Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
179. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the changes he proposes regarding eligibility for payments for persons with physical disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47532/10]
Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív): The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2010, which is currently before the Oireachtas, includes provisions which will facilitate the introduction in 2011 of a Partial Capacity Benefit scheme.
In essence, the intention behind the scheme is to provide an opportunity for people with disabilities, and assessed to have an employment capacity which is restricted when compared to the norm, to avail of employment opportunities while continuing to receive an income support payment. It recognises that the current structure of the welfare system, which categorises people as ‘fit to work’ or ‘unfit to work’, does not reflect the reality for many existing welfare customers who have some capacity to work.
The scheme will be open to people who are in receipt of Invalidity Pension (IP) or who have been in receipt of Illness Benefit (IB) for a minimum of six months. Participation in the scheme will be voluntary and the scheme is designed in particular to respond to the needs of people who currently seek to avail of ‘exemptions’ in order to take up employment opportunities.
Under the terms of the legislation and the consequent regulations, it is envisaged that IP and IB customers who wish to avail of employment opportunities will be required to undertake a partial capacity assessment by a Medical Assessor. On the basis of this assessment of their employment capacity, their personal-rate payment may be adjusted. Any reduction in payment rates will be applied to the personal rate only and increases paid in respect of qualified adults and/or children will not be affected.
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