Thursday, 11 March 2010
We will cover what disability benefits are, who is entitled to them, and what do they cover. We will look at 5 disability payments and look at you entitlements to work and still claim disability benefits.
Teresa McCourt- Social Welfare Expert
Teresa Mc Court has been the Development Manager with Co Westmeath Citizens Information Service since 1997. The service runs 2 full time Citizens Information Centres, one in Mullingar and one in Athlone and Outreach centres in Castlepollard and Kilbeggan.
The service dealt with over 32,000 queries from members of the public in 2008 alone. The figures so far for 2009 are showing a marked rise on last year with close to 3000 queries in each of the first 2 months. The main issues people have are Employment, Social Welfare Heath and Housing, but the service also deals with queries on Education, Tax, Immigration and many other topics. Every effort is made to provide a high quality comprehensive and confidential service to the public. The service is free.
Teresa began her career as a civil servant working in the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Social Welfare. She studied Public Administration, Community Development , Psychology and also completed a Diploma with Open University in the Management Voluntary and Non Profit Organisations.
She remains actively involved in Community affairs in a voluntary capacity. She is a Board member of Athlone Community Services Council, Dr. Stephens Centre for the unemployed, The Midlands Support Agency and Citizens Information Phone Service.
In her role as a Development Manager she has initiated programmes such as a weekly "know your rights" slot on local radio which has been extremely successful.
The service runs public Information workshops on topics such as Pensions, Wills and Inheritance. And also gives presentations to Community groups on request.
In light of the economic crisis queries at the Westmeath CIC have become increasingly complex as more and more people are faced with unemployment.
Entitlements for people with a Disability
An overview of benefits available to people who are sick or have a disability:
There are a number of social welfare payments for people who are sick or who have a disability. Payments are made either by the Department of Social and Family Affairs or the Health Service Executive (HSE).
How do you qualify for Disability Benefit, does one need a cert from a doctor?
To qualify for a social welfare payment because you are sick or have a disability you must be certified as sick or disabled by a doctor.
Can you qualify for payments if you are sick only for a short time?
Yes, you can qualify for certain payments if you are sick for just a short time. For other payments you need to show that you have an illness or disability that will last longer than one year.
Are payments based on PRSI contributions?
Some payments are based on PRSI contributions.
What if you do not have enough PRSI contributions?
If you do not have enough PRSI contributions you may qualify for a similar social assistance payment, however, you must be habitually resident and pass a means test.
We have a range of different number on our website that people will be able to find out about, but today, we will discuss 5 of the most common benefit entitlements .
1.Illness Benefit is intended for those under 66 with a short-term illness, who are unable to work because of the illness.
2.Invalidity Pension is a long-term payment. Illness Benefit and Invalidity Pension are social insurance payments based on your PRSI contributions.
3.Disability Allowance is a long-term means tested social assistance payment for those aged 16 - 65 with a disability expected to last at least one year.
4.Blind Pension is also a long-term social assistance payment. If you are blind or have low vision and you are getting Blind Pension or Disability Allowance you may also qualify for blind welfare allowance .
5.Injury Benefit is a weekly payment made to employees in Ireland who are unfit for work as a result of an accident at work or because they have contracted a disease due to the type of work they do.
NB: Other type of benefits are covered under 'additional information' see below
What about disability payments and work?
If you are getting a disability payment, you may be allowed to participate on a FAS training course or community employment scheme or do some other work that is rehabilitative or therapeutic.
First you must get written approval from the Department of Social and Family Affairs to do rehabilitative work and retain your disability payment. For disability Allowance, Blind Pensions and Invalidity Pension and there is no minimum period of time for which you must have been getting your payment before you can apply. However, in general you must be at least 6 months on Illness Benefit before you will be considered for approval
Disability allowance and Blind Pensions are means-tested disability payments, how will any earnings from rehabilitative work affect these payments?
Disability Allowance and Blind Pension are means-tested disability payments and any earnings up to €120 from rehabilitative type work are not taken into account and you can keep your full disability payment.
If your earnings from rehabilitative work is above €120 per week, 50% of your earnings between €120 and €350 will not be taken into account in the Disability Allowance or Blind Pension means test.
All earnings over €350 will be assessed as income and your entitlement to Disability Allowance/blind pension will be reduced in line with the appropriate reduced rates of payment. If you have no other means, the maximum amount you can earn is €430 (2010) and still keep an entitlement to the minimum payment of €3.50 (2010).
While no restriction has been placed on the number of hours you may work you should use a maximum of 20 hours a week as a guideline.
Invalidity Pension and Illness Benefits are 'Social insurance' payments, if you take up rehabilitative work, can you keep your full payment?
Invalidity Pension and Illness Benefit are social insurance (PRSI based) payments. If you are getting one of these payments and take up rehabilitative work, you can keep your payment in full, but you may have to pay income tax on your total income.
Is there limit to the number of hours worked for illness benefits and invalidity pensions?
For Illness Benefit the rehabilitative work must not exceed 20 hours a week. In practice the Department also operates a limit of 20 hours work a week for people getting Invalidity Pension.
Is there a Public service quota for people with disability: The Disability Act 2005 places an obligation on public bodies to consider and respond to the needs of people with disabilities.
Under Part 5 of the Act, 3% of jobs in public service bodies (local authorities, civil service, the HSE and so on) are reserved for people with disabilities.
What about Secondary Benefits for people with a disability?
Those claiming Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension and Blind pension also qualify for Free Travel and may qualify for the Household Benefits Package, which includes Free electricity allowance, free telephone allowance and free television allowance
Weekly payment for illness benefit in 2010:
1. Average weekly earnings €300 or more
Personal rate €196
Qualified adult rate €130.10
2. Average weekly earnings €220 - €299.99
Personal rate €153.60
Qualified adult rate €84.30
3. Average weekly earnings €150 - €219.99
Personal rate €126.60
Qualified adult rate €84.30
4. Average weekly earnings less than €150
Personal rate €88.10
Qualified adult rate €84.30
Injury Benefit /Blind Pension/ disability allowance maximum weekly rates 2010
Injury Benefit Blind pension Disability allowance: Weekly rate (maximum)
. Personal rate €196
. Qualified adult €130.10
. Qualified Child €29.80 (full rate) €14.90 (half rate)
Rate of Invalidity Pension from January 2010
Invalidity Pension: Weekly rate
. Aged under 65 €201.50
. Aged 65 €230.30
. Qualified adult under 66 €143.80
. Qualified adult over 66 €206.30
. Qualified child €29.80 (full-rate under 18)
. Qualified child €14.90 (half-rate under 18)
Any additional information
A list of other benefits:
Disablement benefit may be payable to you if as a result of an accident at work in Ireland or a prescribed disease contracted at work, you suffer a loss of physical or mental faculty.
Medical Care Scheme
An insured employee in Ireland that is injured at work or who contracts a prescribed occupational disease is entitled to social welfare benefits.
Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme applies to work related injuries and diseases. If you are injured at work (or traveling directly to or from it) or have contracted a disease due to the type of work you do you may qualify for benefits under this scheme.
Diet and Heating Supplements - if you require a special diet for your medical condition or you have exceptional heating expenses due to ill-health or infirmity.
Mobility Allowance is a means-tested monthly payment from the Health Service Executive for those aged 16 - 65 with severe disabilities who are unable to walk and would benefit from a change of surroundings. Apply to your Local Health Office in the Health Service Executive.
There are concessions for disabled drivers and passengers and local authority grants to adapt your home. There are also tax benefits available to people that are sick or have a disability.
Domiciliary Care Allowance is a monthly payment to the carer of a child with a disability so severe that it requires care and attention and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age. This care and attention must be provided to allow the child to deal with the activities of daily living. The child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months.
The Domiciliary Care Allowance scheme was administered by the Health Service Executive before it was transferred to the Department of Social and Family Affairs.
If someone is providing you with full-time care they may qualify for a carer's payment.
Respite care grant is an annual payment made to carers Carers can use the grant in whatever way they wish. You can use the grant to pay for respite care if you wish, but it is not necessary to do so.