Disability Related Expenses

If the person you are caring for is being assessed by your local authority for social care services, an important element of your assessment is called Disability Related Expenses (DRE). 

Making sure that you note all your disability-related expenses on the Council’s financial assessment documents can have a major effect on how much you must pay towards the social care services that they provide to you. 

Financial Assessment 

In calculating how much you must pay towards social care services, the Council will want to know the following details about the person you care for: 

  • income 
  • savings 
  • other assets 

In the case of the person being one of a couple, the local authority cannot include capital or income belonging to the other partner.   

If the person you care for has over £23,250 of savings and assets, they will have to pay for all of their social care services from the Council. 

Below this level the person you care for may be entitled to contribute less. That level of contribution gets less as the figure for savings and assets decreases. 

The other part of the calculation equation is outgoings. This is where Disability Related Expenses come into play. Having Disability Related Expenses can also reduce the size of contribution that the person you care for would need to pay towards their care services from the Council. 

The law in England says that the local authority must leave you with enough money ‘to pay for necessary disability-related expenditure (DRE) to meet needs which are not being met by the local authority’. 

What are Disability Related Expenses? 

It’s important to note that DRE can only be claimed by adults in receipt of: 

  • the care component of Disability Living Allowance 
  • Personal Independence Payment (care) or;  
  • Attendance Allowance 

Disability Related Expenses are extra costs that are needed to look after someone with a disability or medical condition. 

What is counted as a Disability Related Expense? 

DRE usually falls into one of three categories: 

  • specialised items and services: you may use things that are made specially to help with disability or medical conditions, such as wheelchairs and care support. These items may have added costs, like repair and insurance 
  • increased use of non-specialised items and services: you may have to use things more because of the disability, such as transport or heating 
  • higher cost non-specialised items and services: you may have to use things that cost more than the average, such as home delivery 

It can be difficult to think of all the things that might come under those categories. This list from Carers UK shows some good examples to get you thinking of the DREs you may have: 


  • certain medication and health-related purchases (including creams, pressure relief pads) 
  • incontinence pads/goods 
  • Personal Protective Equipment costs 
  • chargeable aids and adaptations (which are not covered under a disabled facilities grant) 
  • equipment for monitoring and communication (including smartphone/tablets) 
  • accessible vehicle costs 


  • healthcare (for example massage/physio/osteopath/acupuncture/chiropractor treatments) 
  • gardening, cleaning, online shopping delivery fees – if you cannot go to the shops because of a disability 
  • taxis if public transport is inaccessible 
  • internet connectivity – if needed for wellbeing, monitoring or for disability aids to connect 
  • subscriptions such as personal alarms, app subscriptions 
  • laundry collection and delivery/service washes 


  • specially adapted clothing/ shoes 

Hidden costs   

  • laundry (extra washes due to incontinence or specialist washing powder) 
  • water if metered (for toilet use/personal care). This is if someone’s condition requires an above average water level in the home, maybe someone has more washing needs due to incontinence or sweating 
  • heating – if someone’s condition requires an above average temperature maintained in the home for example 

What’s not counted as a Disability Related Expense? 

  • equipment or services not specifically used for a disability or health condition  
  • anything where the expense of the item or service could be met by a grant or funder 
  • products or services that can be got more cheaply through social care or the NHS 

What might my claim be worth? 

Although the amount may vary from council to council, there is usually a flat rate for DRE. In most cases that flat rate will be in the region of £15-20 every week. 

What will help with my claim?  

Proof. Evidence that you really are buying a product or service will greatly increase your chances of your claim being successful. 

The type of evidence that the council will be looking for includes: 

  • contracts 
  • invoices 
  • receipts 
  • medical letters 
  • bank transfers 
  • care assessments and support plans 
  • occupational therapist plans 
  • online orders 

It can also help to have the support of your GP or other health professionals in your claim. This is particularly the case when you are claiming for a service or a product that is not available through social care or the NHS. 

What if my claim is turned down? 

An initial no is not the end of the road. You can challenge any decision made. 

Case study

Anne cares for her son, Tom

Anne cares for her 45-year-old son, Tom, who had a stroke. He lives independently, uses an electric wheelchair in the home and has no use in his left arm.

Anne was struggling to manage his care, so Tom was recommended to ask Social Services for help. He had a Care Needs Assessment with a social worker. Once his needs had been identified, his care plan was agreed at one hour of daily support to manage personal care, six hours of flexible one-to-one support to go out and one day at a day centre.

The next step was to assess Tom’s finances to decide his contribution. 

Anne was aware of Disability Related Expenses and together she and Tom made a list of the additional costs relating to his disability. Specifically, they thought about what Tom needs to buy that a person without his disability doesn’t. They included: 

* special clothes, shoes and cutlery, (the cost of one-off purchases is averaged out)
* his community alarm charges (weekly or monthly charge)
* the extra electricity to charge his wheelchair (compared to average use)

The Social Worker agreed that in this case these items are considered Disability Related Expenses and recalculated his contribution to ensure he can continue to meet costs. Tom’s weekly contribution towards his care costs were reduced by £20 pw.

Further help and advice

Local sources of help and advice

You can get a benefit check done through Citizens Advice to find out what you and the person you care for may be able to claim.

Or your local advice centre may be able to help. As well as offering benefits advice, some advice centres also help with other money matters, including debt and energy advice.


Turn2us is a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially. 

Fighting UK Poverty – Turn2us


If you are unsure whether you are entitled to benefits or where to go for further advice, please get in touch with CarersLine. We will point you in the right direction.

CarersLine is open:

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Monday to Thursday: 2 pm – 4 pm
(Closed on Bank Holidays)

0117 965 2200


An answerphone operates outside of these hours and your call will be returned when the helpline next opens.

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Page updated 02.11.23