Written answers

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Department of Social Protection

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Photo of Ciara ConwayCiara Conway (Waterford, Labour)
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94. To ask the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties being faced by children with additional needs, having reached the age of 16 years and having been assessed as having an intellectual disability, to receive disability allowance; if she will examine correspondence (details supplied) and if she will advise as to the options available to persons in this situation and her views on plans to address this anomaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27434/14]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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Disability allowance (DA) is a payment for persons between the ages of 16 and 66 with a specified disability which is expected to last at least 1 year who, by reason of that disability, are substantially restricted in undertaking work suitable to their age, qualifications and experience. Applicants must also satisfy a means test and be habitually resident in the State. The application form for DA collects all the relevant information necessary to determine the eligibility of an applicant in relation to his/her identity, means, habitual residence and medical condition. Application forms for all Departmental schemes are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect any changes in conditionality and to improve clarity.

Domiciliary care allowance (DCA) is a payment made to parents/guardians of certain children up to the age of 16 years who, by reason of a disability, require care substantially in excess of a child of similar age without a disability. It is not means tested. The conditions for receipt of these payments differ significantly; DA reflects a work focus ‘substantially restricted in undertaking work suitable to their age, qualifications and experience’ and DCA reflects a care condition, ‘require care substantially in excess of a child of similar age without a disability’.

Medical eligibility for DA is determined by a deciding officer (DO). The Department employs a team of doctors, called medical assessors (MAs) to provide advice to DOs in relation to medical eligibility for DA and other medical-related schemes. The MAs are fully qualified and experienced medical practitioners who must have at least 6 years satisfactory experience in the practice of medicine since registration with the Medical Council. Many of the MAs have specialist post-graduate qualifications and all have experience/training in Human Disability Evaluation.

Applicants for DA are required to provide medical and other evidence from their own doctor(s) or other therapists etc. to demonstrate their eligibility. In forming his/her opinion, the MA does not question the applicant’s diagnosis/es rather s/he evaluates, based on the evidence provided, to what extent the applicant’s disability restricts his/her employment potential by reference to the severity and expected duration of the disability and any other relevant factors.

To assist the DO to make a quality decision on a DA application and to avoid unnecessary delay it is important that the applicant submits at the outset good quality information in support of his/her claim. It is often not until an applicant is found to be medically ineligible that they send in full and comprehensive information on their medical circumstances for consideration. If a person is found to be ineligible for DA, whether for medical, means or habitual residence reasons, it is open to them to request a review of that decision with or without the submission of additional supporting information and, in addition, they have a statutory right to appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

As at the end of May 2014, there were approximately 40 DA applications for DA from persons under 17 years awaiting decision.


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