People in receipt of Disability Allowance may soon be able to earn "substantially" more in the workplace while still qualifying for a medical card under new plans.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he expects to announce within "the coming months" a figure to replace the current weekly earnings limit of €120 for people on the Disability Allowance and on the Partial Capacity Benefit.

Professor Frances Ruane, the independent chairperson of an inter-departmental group of public servants which recommended the reform, said the new income disregard limit should be €350 to €400 per week.

However, Ms Ruane, a former director of the ESRI, said this was her personal opinion.

The group's report to Government, 'Make Work Pay For People With Disabilities', finds that the fear of losing the medical card is the single most significant barrier confronting people with disabilities who want to take up paid employment.

The report makes 24 recommendations.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has said he is introducing changes with immediate effect, including that people with a long-term disability payment who move off the payment to get a job will retain their Free Travel Pass for a period of five years.

Other measures include a fast-track return to Disability Allowance or Invalidity Pension for people where employment does not work out.

"We want to help more people with disabilities to achieve their employment ambitions and enter the workforce," Mr Varadkar said.

"Unemployment and poverty among people with disabilities is high in Ireland and we would like to help to change that.

"Work is the best way forward for many people with disabilities but we need to ensure that the right support is provided," he added.