Written answers

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Department of Social Protection

Back to Education Allowance Eligibility

Photo of Gabrielle McFaddenGabrielle McFadden (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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54. To ask the Minister for Social Protection if there are sources of appropriate funding for persons on long-term illness benefit studying part-time degree courses, as it stands, persons on long-term illness benefit may only receive a back to education allowance or a Student Universal Support Ireland grant if they are studying a full-time course. [42418/14]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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Persons in receipt of illness benefit for at least two years and who want to return to education on a full-time basis may transfer to the back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme. If a person fails to satisfy the two year requirement on illness benefit, periods spent on other qualifying social welfare claims can be used to make up the two year qualifying period provided that at least 50% of the two years is spent on illness benefit.

The focus of BTEA scheme is to assist those who are most marginalised and distant from the labour market to acquire the necessary education to improve their chances of becoming independent of the social welfare system.

While I have no plans to extend BTEA to part-time courses, I should point out that a person in receipt of illness benefit who wishes to pursue a part-time degree course can continue to receive weekly illness benefit payment, if it is medically certified that pursuit of the course will not impede his or her recovery.

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