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How to apply for a blue badge for a person with dementia

You can now apply online for a blue badge. This article explains the criteria for people with dementia and how to fill out an application for yourself or a loved one.

Are people with dementia eligible for a blue badge?

Blue badges are for people with severe mobility problems who need to park close to where they are going. This can apply to many people living with dementia, which can affect balance, co-ordination and spatial awareness. 

However the focus on mobility and walking means that many people with dementia who apply for a blue badge are turned down.

In 2018 a government consultation into the blue badge scheme highlighted the need to change the system to include people with hidden disabilities, including people with dementia.  

However, currently there is no clear guidance for local authorities on how to apply these new guidelines. This means you may still be turned down for a blue badge if you have dementia but don’t experience severe mobility problems.

How can I apply for a Blue Badge?

In January 2019 the government introduced a way to apply online  for a Blue Badge, whether it’s for yourself or for somebody else.  Your local council will be responsible for making the decision about whether you get a badge or not. 

Some councils use a different online or paper form. The online gov.uk form will direct you to the right place if this is the case.

Who can automatically get a Blue Badge?

There are some criteria that mean you are definitely entitled to a blue badge. Blue badges are automatically given to people who:

  • Are registered as blind
  • Get the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and scored 8 points or more in the ‘moving around’ area of the assessment.
  • Get War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement 
  • Received a lump sum payment as part of the Armed Forces Compensation scheme (tariffs 1 to 8), and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability

If you meet one or more of these criteria, you must still fill out the form to receive the badge. 

If you or your loved one don’t meet any of these criteria, you can still apply for an assessment, to see if you are eligible for a badge.

Tips for applying for your blue badge online:

Get your documentation together

You will need photos or scans of:

  • Proof of identity (passport, birth certificate, driving licence)
  • Proof of address (dated within the last 12 months – for example an electricity bill)
  • Any documents related to the person with dementia’s condition (for example diagnosis letters or any correspondence with medical professionals)
  • The person’s National Insurance number (if they have one)
  • Up to date contact details (phone number and email address)
  • A recent digital photo of the person 
  • If the person is receiving PIP (Personal Independence Payment) you need to send the full award letter including the points awarded for moving around.
  • The decision letter from the Department for Work and Pensions confirming eligibility for a blue badge (if you have one).

The photo of the person with dementia doesn’t need to be an official passport photo. You can take a photo with a smartphone as long as the lighting is good. You need to be able to see the face and shoulders of the person, against a plain light background. 

Gather information about the person and their diagnosis

The online form asks you for details of any medical appointments or treatments that the person with dementia has. You should include anything related to their dementia diagnosis, including surgeries, clinics or treatments, GP appointments, and other conditions they may have. 

You should also gather together information about medication and mobility aids. 

There’s a chance to add supporting documents as well. If you have a letter from a GP or other medical professional supporting the blue badge application, you should take a photo of this and upload it when asked.

Areas to look out for in the online form:

  • Choosing a reason for needing a badge

Question from the gov.uk online blue badge application form

You should select the option that best fits your situation. For example, if the person who needs the badge finds walking difficult, then you should tick the option ‘I have a permanent disability that means I can’t walk or I find walking very difficult.’ 

  • Describe your walking difficulties

    Question about walking difficulties from the gov.uk online blue badge application form

The form will ask you to tick different statements about your walking difficulties. You should select the most appropriate one for your situation.

  • Explaining the impact on your daily life

Question about walking problems from the gov.uk blue badge online application form

This is an important section where you can talk about how dementia affects the mobility of the person who needs the badge.  

Think about yourself or the person you are applying for on the worst day. Describe in detail how far you or they could walk and the difficulties they have. It can help to think about whether the person with dementia experiences any of the following:  

  • Challenges with depth perception and visuo-perceptual difficulties due to patterns, depths or uneven surfaces, which can lead to falls or trips. 

  • The person might not recognise road or safety signage. 

  • Walking slowly due to a lack of spatial awareness or being disorientated.  

  • The applicant might always need to be guided to go the right way so can never walk unaided. 

  • Getting in and out of the car can take time and be difficult, especially in narrow spaces. 

  • Slow processing skills and a lack of quick reaction to speed can be dangerous near roads. 

  • People with advanced dementia often have muscle weakness and mobility problems. 

 We recommend writing this section before you start the online form, and then copying and pasting it in when you get to the relevant section.

  • Walking difficulties 

Walking difficulties from the gov.uk blue badge online application form

You may then be asked to tick some of the difficulties that you, or the person with dementia, have when walking. You can select more than one option. If you select ‘Something else’ you can describe the particular issues that are related to the dementia diagnosis.

  • Walking distances

Finally the form will ask about distances that you or the person you are applying for can walk for. The form asks you to think of somewhere nearby that you or the person regularly walk to, and estimate how long this takes.

What happens after you've applied?

It can take a while for your council to process your application. You should get in touch with them if you haven’t heard back within 8 weeks.

They might ask the person with dementia to attend a mobility assessment

If they deny you a blue badge, you can write to the council to protest against the decision and ask them to reconsider.

What do I do if I receive a blue badge?

The badge belongs to the person with dementia. They can use it in any vehicle that they travel in, including taxis. It can’t be lent out to other people or used when the person isn’t in the vehicle. 

You can find out more about where you can park with a blue badge on the gov.uk website. 

We’d love to know about your experiences applying for a Blue Badge using this online form. Let us know in the comments below or email us at [email protected]. We can pass on your feedback to the Department of Transport.

Image at top of article is licensed under © Kolforn/ Wikimedia Commons / (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Apply online for a blue badge

Visit the gov.uk site and start applying for your blue badge.

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10 comments

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Thank you for this detailed information. Mum had a blue badge as she has arthritis. Trying to renew was met with frustrating bureaucracy and ignorance of how conditions affect the lives of people even though she now has dementia and arthritis doesn't improve as we age! Will try again. Thank you

We have been knocked back again. Mum 88, limited mobility post-stroke, greatly lacks confidence & always walks holding our hand when outside. Cannot walk far. Has Alzheimer's & absolutely cannot be left while I park elsewhere. Is thus limiting her horizons and our options when taking her out, e.g., no longer able to go shopping if spaces not near entrance. Council wanted her to travel to them to do mobility tests. While understanding their need to ensure the system is not abused, we said no, as this would cause unnecessary confusion. As with mental health, we are still not quite there in the UK when enabling access for those with so-called hidden disabilities.

I am mid application for getting a Blue Badge for my husband here in France. Parking spaces close to shop entrances are reseved for holders of the badge, Drivers with children, & Pregnant Women. Here the 'demented' appear to be a little forgotten. Are badges held back because in some places Parking would be free and there might be a loss of income? We dont mind paying but need the help to manage our loved ones.

I'm having trouble with an application for a blue badge for my Dad. He is being asked to go for an Occupation Therapy assessment. He would likely find this most distressing and my Mum is dreading taking him. She is already struggling to cope and this is a real blow. I am going to write to the Council and ask if a GP letter could replace the assessment.

the i time is coming for my husband but I have heard the problems people have had trying to get one and I have enough problems now without that. Surely if a Dr gave permission that us all you need.

My sister has had Alzheimers for almost 9 years. She had a blue badge after a hip operation but this was not renewed. I applied for one because of her dementia but it was refused, as was my appeal. In the meantime her carer got a fine for parking just slightly over the line in an Aberdeenshire car park ( so my sister could exit with the aid of her walking stick.) When her carer appealed to the attendant he just said,”She should have a blue badge!” We had to pay £40 fine but I’m in a catch 22 and feel very frustrated. Any advice would be appreciated.

Lorraine: I feel for you. Not to begrudge the ease of obtaining a badge for Registered Blind and Partially Sighted but I cannot see why we are so knocked back. My Dear One can see but does not know why he is going or where without an arm or hand - and we have to brave the disabled toilets as a couple.

My mum is 89 and has Alzheimers, she can not walk without relying on my arm - as her balance is not good and her lack of muscle tone in her legs means that they don't do what she's telling them and she stumbles a lot. To get to the cinema, which she loves, I have to drop her at the cinema and make her safe in the onsite Costa, then drive to a carpark, park, pay and run back to the cinema, or put her in the wheelchair at the carpark and push her up a huge hill! Her blue badge application was refused.

Very disappointed to learn today that Notts County Council are not issuing Blue Badges for disabled people with hidden, unseen disabilities, such as Alzheimers or Autism. It isn't council policy yet and yet my husband with Alzheimers was told last year, by a Working Age Dementia support worker, that he could re-apply for a Blue Badge in April '19. No such luck!!

Hi Kate, sorry to hear about the problems you've been having applying for a blue badge.

I'm afraid it's a complicated system and there has been a lot of mis-informaiton out there.

To clarify, after a consultation a year or two ago, the government has agreed to change the emphasis in the guidance so that people with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as dementia can be found eligible for a Blue Badge at assessment. However, the new guidance is still being produced (and Alzheimer’s Society is contributing to that). There is no real change in the rules at present, it is just emphasizing what assessors should consider anyway. There is no real reason why a local authority cannot implement these changes now.

Here is a summary on the consultation findings on Blue Badge eligibility which you may find useful: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/blue-badge-disabled-parking-…

It may be worth enlisting the help of someone like Citizen’s Advice to help with your application or to make an appeal: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-…

Different local authorities have different approaches to appeals and there is no legal requirement for local authorities to have an appeals procedure. However, the guidance strongly recommends that local authorities establish an internal procedure to deal with appeals against a decision not to issue a badge

If there is no appeals mechanism then it is acceptable to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman that there isn’t one (as opposed to appealing against a decision) after taking it up with the local authority through their complaints process first: http://www.lgo.org.uk/

I'm sorry this is so difficult Kate, but hope this information is helpful for you.
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Alzheimer's Society blog team

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