Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 28 Jun 1994

Vol. 444 No. 5

Written Answers. - Invalidity Pension Regulations.

Jim O'Keeffe


38 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the different approach adopted in relation to work classified as rehabilative by the National Rehabilitation Board for those in receipt of invalidity pension where there is a disregard of income for such work of up to £24 per week but total withdrawal of invalidity pension for any pensioner earning in excess of that sum per week; if he will adopt the approach currently in practice by the health boards in relation to disabled person's maintenance allowance where there is disregard of income up to £32 per week and a sliding reduction pound for pound thereafter; and if he continues to refuse to adopt this more humane and more reasonable approach, the reasons therefor.

The regulations governing entitlement to invalidity pension from my Department provide that a recipient shall not engage in work whether on his or her own account or on behalf of another person. However, an exemption from that provision may be granted for any period during which the recipient is engaged in light work for which no remuneration is or would ordinarily be payable; is engaged in work in the nature of rehabilitation or occupational therapy; or, having become permanently incapable of following their usual occupation, is undergoing a course of training with a view to taking up some other occupation.

The remuneration limit of £24 a week referred to by the Deputy applies to certain work permitted in the case of recipients of disability benefit and injury benefit. There is no similar earnings limit applying in the case of invalidity pensioners.

As regards disabled person's maintenance allowance, the Government decided in June 1990, arising from representations from the National Rehabilitation Board, to allow people in receipt of disabled person's maintenance allowance from the health boards earn up to £30 per week without affecting the rate of allowance. This initiative was designed to encourage people with disabilities to return to the workforce. The limit of £30 has been increased each year in line with social welfare rates and currently stands at £32.30.

The disabled person's maintenance allowance is a means-tested payment administered by the health boards. It is not strictly comparable with invalidity pension which is an insurance based payment. The invalidity pension was introduced to provide better payment arrangements for those who are permanently incapable of work. In line with my pro-active approach to enable unemployed people and those suffering from disability to gain a foothold in the work-place I am having the "rules of behaviour" reviewed to ensure that they reflect developments in rehabilitative and therapeutic practice.