People with disabilities can earn 250% more without losing benefits
People who qualify for disability allowances will be able to earn up 22,000 euro a year and hold on to medical benefits.
People with disabilities will be able to earn 250% more before they lose their medical card benefits, the Health Minister has said.
Simon Harris said the changes are aimed at removing barriers to entering the workforce and described it as a “win-win situation for all of society”.
From December 1 people who qualify for disability allowances will be able to earn up to 427 euro per week, or 22,204 a year, and keep their health benefits.
Under the current system once they earn more than 127 euro a week, or 6,240 euro a year, they lose their medical card.
Changes that remove barriers to work by allowing people in receipt of Disability Allowance to earn €427 per week without losing their medical card is 'good news for society and good news for employers' - @SimonHarrisTD https://t.co/6D8dlxmeQK pic.twitter.com/yWax1EQu18— DFI (@DisabilityFed) November 30, 2018
Mr Harris said: “People with disabilities want to live their life to their full potential, they want to play their role in society, they want to, like everyone else… have a career and to access the workforce.”
Until now, there were not enough supports in place to assist them, he said.
“One of the big barriers was… people with disabilities wanting to take up employment but worried that if they did so they’d lose their safety net, they would lose their access to medical care through the medical card.”
Mr Harris added that society needed people to make that contribution as well and he hoped the improved thresholds would make it easier to enter the workforce.
The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) described the changes as a big step for people with disabilities.
DFI chief executive Senator John Dolan said fear of losing a medical card was identified as the biggest barrier to work in the Government’s inter-department 2017 report entitled Make Work Pay.
Mr Dolan said a range of supports were needed to improve the “horrendous unemployment rates” for people living with a disability and this was one of those supports.
I was constantly stuck in a bind between working and working too much because I was always afraid: the massive fear of losing the medical card Peter Boyd
Aoife Kirwan, 31, from Kildare, who is living with MS, said it was hugely important that people were able to work, but until this point there had not been any incentive.
“I’m delighted people are going to be able to avail of this now and that they’re going to be included in society in a larger way,” she said.
Ms Kirwan added that people with disabilities miss out when they are not working.
Peter Boyd, who was diagnosed with arthritis when he was 27, said: “It is going to make such a big different to people like myself who have been stuck basically in a rut for the last few years.
“I was constantly stuck in a bind between working and working too much because I was always afraid: the massive fear of losing the medical card because of the cost of the medications.”
He said it was also important for a person’s mental health as well as physical well-being to be part of the workforce.
The changes applies to single and family assessments.