Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Schemes
379. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will reintroduce arrangements in which persons on an invalidity pension could get permission to work part-time, known as an exemption, for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes and keep their full social welfare payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27625/21]
Invalidity Pension (IP) is a pension paid to people who are “permanently incapable of work” because of illness or disability. It is based on a claimant's social insurance contributions and medical conditions and is not means tested.
Under legislative provisions set out in Section 118 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended, a person in receipt of or entitled to invalidity pension shall not engage in insurable employment or insurable self-employment. However, a person may, with the prior written permission of an officer of the Minister, undertake for a specified period of time, a course of training with a view to taking up some other occupation, or light work for which no remuneration is or would ordinarily be payable.
Since 2012, the Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) replaced the previous exemption arrangements whereby people on Invalidity Pension could get permission to carry out work in the nature of rehabilitation or occupational therapy for a specified period of time. The PCB scheme allows people to receive a payment at a rate which is a percentage of their Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension rate of payment, while working.
It is important to note the following features of PCB:
- participation is voluntary;
- there is no requirement that a person must undertake work that is of a ‘rehabilitative or therapeutic’ nature;
- there is no restriction on the number of hours worked;
- there is no restriction on earnings;
- a person who participates on the PCB scheme may return to an Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension payment if, for example, the employment ceases or if the person cannot continue to work;
- a person on PCB, with an underlying entitlement to IP, will retain their Free Travel Pass for a period of five years;
- PCB allows people to continue to receive a percentage of their Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension payment while working. The personal rate of payment of PCB is based on a medical assessment of a person’s restriction, regarding their capacity for work, whether the person was in receipt of Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension and their current rate of payment. After the medical assessment, if a person's disability is rated as moderate, severe or profound their previous payment continues at 50%, 75% or 100%, respectively.
There are 3,185 people currently availing of the scheme (as at 19 May 2021).
PCB provides for a substantial improvement on the previous arrangements that were in place for people in receipt of Invalidity Pension who wished to take up work. I will continue to keep the Department’s employment support schemes for people with disabilities under review to ensure that they continue to meet their policy objectives.
I trust this clarifies the matter.