Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (1860)

Joan Burton

Question:

1860. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to introduce a measure to disregard the blind welfare allowance for means testing purposes; the full-year cost of disregarding the blind welfare allowance in the means test for the disability allowance; the number of persons affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36028/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The blind welfare allowance is a means-tested payment from the Health Service Executive to people who are blind or visually impaired. The allowance is paid to eligible people from 18 years of age.

Blind welfare allowance is considered as means when applying for disability allowance and means are calculated in accordance with Part 2 of Schedule 3 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 as amended. All cash income to the person (and, where relevant, to the person’s spouse, civil partner or cohabitant) is assessed except for specific exclusions.

There are currently just over 3,700 people receiving the blind welfare allowance. It is estimated that about 760 recipients of means tested payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection would be impacted by disregarding this allowance in the calculation of their means. The estimated full year cost of this disregard is €2.3 million.

Any changes to the treatment of blind welfare allowance in the means testing of social welfare payments would need to be considered in an overall budgetary context.