Invalidity Pension is a pension paid to people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness. To qualify for an award of Invalidity Pension a claimant must satisfy both PRSI contribution and medical conditions.
Where a person in receipt of Invalidity Pension wishes to return to work, they may apply for Partial Capacity Benefit. The Partial Capacity Benefit scheme extends the welfare system by explicitly recognising and responding to the reality that some people with disabilities will have a capacity to engage in open market employment while continuing to receive some income support from the State. The objective of the scheme is to support such people to return to the workplace without fear of loss of their disability-related social welfare benefits.
If awarded, Partial Capacity Benefit will allow them to continue to receive, in addition to their earnings from employment, a percentage of their illness benefit or invalidity pension payment while working. After the medical assessment, if a person's disability is rated as moderate, severe or profound their previous payment continues at 50%, 75% or 100% per cent, respectively.
Since 13 February 2012, Partial Capacity Benefit replaced the previous arrangements where people on Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension could get permission to work part-time (known as an "exemption") for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes and keep their full social welfare payment. In this context it is important to note however, in relation to Partial Capacity Benefit that:
- there is no requirement that a person must undertake work that is of a ‘rehabilitative or therapeutic’ nature (and therefore the question of an exemption no longer applies);
- Partial Capacity Benefit is voluntary;
- Partial Capacity Benefit allows people to continue to receive a percentage of their Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension payment while working;
- there is no restriction on the number of hours worked;
- there is no restriction on earnings;
- a person who participates on the Partial Capacity Benefit scheme may return to an Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension payment if, for example, the employment ceases or if the person cannot continue to work.
- a person on Partial Capacity Benefit, with an underlying entitlement to Invalidity Pension, will retain their Free Travel Pass for a period of five years that is for five years while in employment.
The medical conditionality for Disability Allowance is that the person is substantially restricted in undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable for a person of that person’s age, experience and qualifications. An income disregard is in place to encourage people on Disability Allowance to take up employment if possible.
There are no plans to introduce a measure to allow recipients of Invalidity Pension to work up to 10 hours per week while in receipt of the full payment. To do so would invalidate the underlying criterion for Invalidity Pension that the person is permanently incapable of work and would also undermine the Partial Capacity Benefit scheme.
I trust that this clarifies the matter.