Disability allowance is the means tested equivalent of disability benefit. Disability allowance is payable to persons who are restricted from employment due to long term sickness and disability.
In order to qualify, a person must be of normal working age (16 to 66 years ) He must by reason of a specified disability be substantially restricted in undertaking employment of a kind which if he was were not so restricted, would be suited to his age experience and qualification. He must satisfy a means test. The applicant must be habitually resident.
The person must satisfy the deciding officer or appeals officer that he is substantially restricted from undertaking suitable employment by reason of the particular disability. The disease injury mental or physical illness must be expected to continue for at least a year. However, his finding may be subsequently reviewed.
The means test is discussed separately. Disability allowance is a flat rate payment with increments for qualified dependent adults and children.
A person would be disqualified from disability allowance if he fails to good cause to:
- submit to medical examination or treatment;
- comply with instructions of a doctor;
- refrain from behavior likely to hinder a recovery;
- to make himself available to Departmental officers.
A person engaged in specified classes of employment or training may not be disqualified.
A blind pension is a means tested pension payable to a blind person. There are statutory tests of blindness. The person must be between 18 and 66 years old. He must be blind, satisfy a means test and be habitually resident in the State.
The person must be so blind that he can neither perform any work which eyesight is essential or cannot so continue.
The payment is a flat rate payment which increments for dependant children and spouses. An additional payment is e made for persons living alone. A person who receives a contributory pension would not qualify.
The means test for Disability Allowance includes
- income that the person or his spouse, may reasonably be expected to receive in the coming year;
- property or assets, of which they have deprived themselves in order to qualify for assistance;
- advantages accruing to the person or his spouse from use of property other than a domestic dwelling house or farm building, (owned or occupied, furniture and personal effects) that is personally used or enjoyed by the person or the spouse and
- the value of any advantage from leasing of land.
A person who qualifies for Disability Allowance may also qualify for secondary benefits. In principle, a person may receive Disability Allowance up to retirement age. A person remains qualified, while engaging in classes of employment or training subject to such circumstances as may be prescribed. This may include employment or business activities of rehabilitative nature.
Previously, a person was not qualified for Disability Allowance, while resident in an institution. However, this provision has been removed.
A person is deemed blind for the purpose of the Act, if he is so blind that he or she cannot perform any work for which eyesight is essential or cannot continue his or her ordinary occupation. The means test is similar to that for the State Contributory Pension.
The 2011 Act provides for an increase in the minimum age for qualification for Disability Allowance from 16 to 18 years and for a consequential increase in the maximum age for receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance from 16 to 18 years, with effect from 1 January 2012. Existing recipients of Disability Allowance who were aged between 16 and 18 years on 1 January 2012 will continue to be entitled to Disability Allowance, but in this case they will not be eligible to receive Domiciliary Care Allowance as well.
The 2011 Act provided for the introduction of reduced personal rates and increases for qualified adults for recipients of Disability Allowance aged under 25 years, similar to those already provided for in the case of recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Supplementary Welfare Allowance, with effect from 4 April 2012.
There are a number of circumstances in which the reduced rates were to apply, including—
- where the claim for Disability Allowance commences before 4 April 2012,
- where the claimant is entitled to an increase in respect of a qualified child,
- where the claimant was in receipt of certain specified payments immediately before claiming Disability Allowance.
The 2012 Act increased the rate of assessment of self-employment income from farming and fishing from 85% to 100%, in the case of the Farm Assist, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pre-Retirement Allowance and Disability Allowance schemes. The 2012 Act provides for the abolition of the annual child related income disregards in respect of qualified children who normally reside with such claimants (currently €127 per year for each of the first two dependent children and €190.50 per year for each subsequent child). The changes take effect from the beginning of April 2013.
The 2018 Act addressed the fact that, under the existing legislative provisions, recipients of Disability Allowance, Blind Pension and certain supplements under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme only benefit from the disregard of earnings from employment where the employment or self-employment (in the case of Disability Allowance) has been certified by the recipient’s General Practitioner as being of a rehabilitative nature.
This section dispenses with the practice of distinguishing between employment of a rehabilitative nature and work more generally. This date on which this provision would come into force would be set by Commencement Order.
The 2019 Act provided that the Blind Welfare Allowance (a payment made by the HSE) is disregarded in the means-test for certain social assistance payments, and in particular for Disability Allowance. This measure comes into effect from 10 January 2020. The 2021 Act provides for an increase in the general weekly means disregard for disability allowance from €2.50 to €7.60 from 1 June 2022.