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Social Welfare Code

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 15 July 2021

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Questions (262)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

262. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will examine the inequitable treatment of persons on invalidity pension that wish to move on to partial capacity benefit and to establish themselves as self-employed (details supplied); if these significant disincentives to taking up employment will be examined and addressed; and if the feasibility of applying similar rules to invalidity pension and partial capacity recipients as those that apply to persons on disability allowance will be examined. [38792/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

A person may apply for whichever of the Department's schemes that best fits his or her needs and circumstances. He or she must satisfy the entitlement criteria and conditions for receipt to be granted payment.

Disability Allowance (DA) is a means-tested payment for people with an injury, disease or disability that has continued, or may be expected to continue, for at least one year and, as a result of this disability, the person is  ‘substantially restricted’ in undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable.  Legislation provides that the DA means test takes account of the income and capital/assets of the person (and spouse/partner, if applicable) applying for the scheme. The scheme is also subject to a habitual residency requirement.  In addition, where a person is in receipt of DA and they are earning above €140 per week from employment, their earnings are assessed as means, initially at 50% (for earnings between €140 and €350) and then at 100% for earnings above €350 per week.    

Invalidity Pension (IP) is a pension paid to people who are ‘permanently incapable of work because of illness or disability.  It is based on a claimant's social insurance contributions and medical conditions and is not means tested.

Persons in receipt of Invalidity Pension who wish to enter or re-enter employment or self-employment can apply for the Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) scheme. PCB extends the Invalidity Pension scheme to respond to the reality that some people with disabilities have a capacity to engage in employment while continuing to need to receive some income support from the State. The personal rate of payment of PCB is based on a medical assessment of a person’s restriction, regarding their capacity for work.  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%, respectively.  PCB allows people to continue to receive a percentage of their Invalidity Pension payment while working.  In addition, there is no restriction on the number of hours worked and  there is no restriction on earnings. A person who participates on the PCB scheme may return to an Invalidity Pension payment if, for example, the employment ceases or if the person cannot continue to work.

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme offers support for people who are long-term unemployed and who are interested in self-employment as a route to entering the labour market.  The scheme plays a vital role in supporting the development of new enterprises and supporting the first steps into self-employment for the long term unemployed.  Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension and Blind Pension are qualifying payments for receipt of the scheme. No paid employment is allowed outside the business as the customer is expected to devote 100% of their time to the business venture.

A person who avails of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme retains a percentage of their social welfare payment rate for up to 2 years. Applicants receive support through their DSP Intreo Case Officer, who will refer them to their Local Development Company (LDC) who assists them in discussing options and to explore the viability of their business idea. Once accepted onto the scheme, the person retains100% of their original payment in year one and 75% in year two. Customers in receipt of Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension and Blind Pension may retain any secondary benefits they were in receipt of prior to participation in the scheme. 

I trust this clarifies the matter.

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