People with disabilities will be able to earn 250 per cent more on their income before they lose their medical card benefits, according to the Minister for Health Simon Harris.
People who qualify for disability allowance will be able to earn up to €427 a week under the new system, which was introduced on December 1, while also keeping their health benefits.
This is in contrast to the current system where once they earn more than 127 euro a week, they lose their medical cards.
Harris said the changes are aimed at removing barriers to entering the workforce, describing the initiative as a “win-win situation for all of society.”
“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.”
“People with disabilities wanted to take up employment but were worried that if they did so they’d lose their safety net, they would lose their access to medical care through their medical card,” said Harris.
DCUSSU Irish Officer, Sorcha Ni Chonghaile, believes the extra financial support will enable people with minor disabilities to live a full social life.
“I feel it’s (the new measure) hugely important, it is expensive outside of medical costs alone with a disability so the extra financial support could help a lot! It will also allow those with access to the allowance be enable to live a full social life, which is important as the disability can be very isolating.”
“Of course there will be naysayers but the extra support is needed. Granted, not every single person with a disability is on disability allowance, so that helps with shares of money being equal across recipients,” added Ni Chonghaile.
The Disability Federation of Ireland believe the changes are a big step for people with disabilities.
Chief executive Senator John Dolan identified that the fear of losing a medical card was identified as the biggest barrier to employment in the Government’s
Make Work Pay report in 2017.
Dolan stated that a range of supports were needed to improve the “horrendous unemployment rates” for people living with disability and this was one of those supports.
“There were 24 recommendations in that report that would make work pay fort people with disabilities. They all need to be implemented so that the basic human right to work can become a reality,” said Dolan.
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