The social protection system includes a variety of social assistance payments with different rules in relation to means testing, reflecting the different contingencies under which payments are made.
The blind pension is a means-tested payment paid to blind and visually impaired people. It is unique in the social protection system as it is a payment provided to people with a specific physical impairment. As such, it contains different eligibility and means criteria to disability allowance. Unlike disability allowance, recipients of blind pension may also qualify for a range of other primary schemes such as jobseeker’s benefit, illness benefit, and one-parent family payment. Persons in receipt of the blind pension may also have an entitlement to blind welfare allowance from the HSE which is disregarded for the blind pension means test.
The capital means test for disability allowance is also unique in the social protection system, in that it disregards €50,000 of capital completely, compared to €20,000 for most other social assistance schemes including blind pension. 84% of blind pension recipients with means from capital have means of less than €20,000 and this is therefore completely disregarded. A further 13% (about 65 people) have capital means between €20,000 and €50,000.
Subject to meeting the qualifying conditions, a person with significant visual impairment on blind pension may, instead, apply for disability allowance.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.