Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (588)

Denis Naughten

Question:

702 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person over the age of 65 years is not entitled to a motorised transport grant; if the age limit complies with age discrimination legislation; the plans he has to review the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1512/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

The guidelines for the motorised transport grant were revised in July 2002, in accordance with recommendations by the national health board working group on disability related allowances-grants that came under the aegis of my Department.

The revised circular states that all health boards may pay a grant towards the purchase of a car and-or to a car being purchased by a person with a severe disability who is 17 years or older and up to 65 years of age to be adapted, where such a car is essential for him or her to obtain or retain employment. Self-employed persons who satisfy the criteria of eligibility may also be considered subject to the above age limits. In cases where application is made on the basis of obtaining or retaining employment or self-employment, the board must be satisfied that the applicant is capable of holding down a job, has the physical capacity to drive the vehicle and is qualified to hold a full or provisional driver's licence. Qualified persons with a disability who are incapable of driving or who have been medically advised not to drive, and must be driven to and from his or her place of employment will only be considered eligible for a grant provided that he or she will be driven by another named person to and from his or her place of employment. The car must be purchased in the name of the person with a disability. The grant may also be considered in exceptional circumstances for a person with a severe disability, subject to the above age limits, who lives in a remote location and whose disability impedes him or her from using public transport.

The grant is primarily aimed at people with disabilities to enable them to obtain or retain employment. Therefore, it is felt the upper age limit of 65 years of age is appropriate. The working group has made various recommendations about age limits and eligibility criteria for the grant. At present my Department is examining the issue of age limits for mobility related allowances.