Fine Gael is helping people with disabilities to achieve their ambitions and find work, and to remove the many barriers which prevent them from doing so.
That’s according to Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell, who was speaking after the Make Work Pay Report was launched recently by the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, and the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.
The Report recommends a range of measures to support people with disabilities to work.
“My Fine Gael colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, has confirmed that people in receipt of Disability Allowance will keep their free travel pass for five years if they take up employment, and will also be given a guarantee that they will be re-instated on welfare if a trial of work doesn’t work out for them.
“In addition, my colleague the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has confirmed that his Department is committed to addressing what the Make Work Pay Report finds is the single most significant barrier for people with disabilities; people’s fear of losing supports.
“One such issue relates to the earnings disregard applied to people in receipt of Disability Allowance or Partial Capacity Benefit when it comes to assessing eligibility for a Medical Card. Minister Harris has committed to substantially raising the earnings disregard for people in this category which will allow people to earn more from employment while continuing to retain their medical card.
“People with disabilities should not have to fear losing their supports if they want to take on more employment. These changes will encourage people with disabilities here in Dublin Fingal to seek more work, safe in the knowledge that they will not lose their medical card.
“Approximately 31,235 people in Dublin who are in receipt of Disability Allowance, and 491 people in receipt of Partial Capacity Benefit stand to benefit from this.”
Commenting Minister Harris said: “I fully understand the anxiety that people with a disability and who hold a medical card may have about losing their medical card and that this can discourage them from entering the workforce or, even worse, cause them to want to opt out of working altogether. I am determined to remove this barrier for people.”
Minister Varadkar added: “People with a long-term disability payment who move off the payment to get a job will retain their Free Travel Pass for a period of five years. This measure is now in effect. We are also providing a fast–track return to Disability Allowance, or Invalidity Pension, for people where employment does not work out. My Department is developing a new ‘Ready Reckoner’, to calculate the net benefits and financial implications of working, and is also reviewing its communications with a specific focus on the needs of people with disabilities. There will be regular reviews of all these policies to ensure their effectiveness.”
Deputy Alan Farrell added: “Another significant change is that anyone entering the workforce can qualify for the Disability Allowance earnings disregard, regardless of whether or not the work is rehabilitative in nature, which means they can retain more of their income.
“It is also really important that people with disabilities have accurate and up to date information in relation to the Medical Card when making decisions about entering into or retaining employment. We are committed to implementing the recommendations in the Make Work Pay Report, which requires the Department of Health to work with the Department of Social Protection and the HSE to ensure that this information is readily available and accessible to everyone who needs it.”