The starting point for all entitlements is Domiciliary Care Allowance. This is a monthly payment for the benefit of your child. It is not means tested. I have nicknamed this the gate opener because when you are in receipt of this allowance then other entitlements are made available to you and your child.

The official line from the department on eligibility for Domiciliary Care Allowance is that it is based primarily on the resulting lack of function of body or mind demanding a degree of extra care and attention.

What this means in plain English is that the department are not disagreeing that your child has Down Syndrome or some other type of special needs. But what they are disputing is that you are giving your child additional care over and above that of a child of similar age.

Parents have to understand, this is the criteria that you are being judged on, not your child’s illness.

The Department uses a set of guidelines in determining the medical eligibility of children for this allowance. Each application is assessed on an individual basis taking account of all the information supplied in the application form.

This is a combination of the parent’s information and their doctor’s assessment. Any experts used to support the claim such as a therapist or consultants will also be considered. This is important to realise as parents often get frustrated in the knowledge of another parent whose child has the same condition as their child, but they are now in receipt of the allowance.

My advice to parents is if you believe you are entitled to this allowance then you need to put an honest and strong case forward or else is will be rejected. This means keeping a detail diary of the care you provide for your child. In other words, what exactly are you doing for your child over and above another parent would typically do. The more information you can supply the better.

Show examples where you assist your child in communication, interaction, learning, feeding, dressing, hygiene and sleeping. If possible write down any additional measures you have in place to keep your child safe and out of harm’s way. List your monthly appointment for your child and any medication you administer. If your child has additional behavioural issue, show how you have to deal with these issues.

Above all just make sure you demonstrate clearly how you support your child and provide extra care. I hope this give you a better understanding on how best to fill in your Domiciliary Care Allowance form. Good luck because from my experience you will need it!

This article was prepared by Allan Cuthbert, a Special Needs Financial Planner. If you have a financial question, feel free to email [email protected] or call 021 482 3635. For more information about special needs financial planning, check out