Written Answers. - HIV Positive or AIDS Sufferers.

Liam Burke

Ceist:

76 Mr. L. Burke asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the hardship and anxiety caused through HIV positive and AIDS patients who are deprived from receipt of disabled persons maintenance allowance and who do not qualify for social welfare benefit or assistance; the proposals, if any, he has to remedy the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [980/94]

Liam Burke

Ceist:

116 Mr. L. Burke asked the Minister for Health if his Department will enter into negotiations with the Department of Social Welfare with a view to ensuring the provision of either social welfare benefits or disabled persons maintenance allowance for those patients who are HIV positive or suffering from AIDS who are currently deprived from receiving such benefits or assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [979/94]

Alan M. Dukes

Ceist:

143 Mr. Dukes asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the anomaly whereby HIV positive or AIDS sufferers who, despite being unfit for work, can neither qualify for social welfare payments nor disabled persons maintenance allowance from the health boards; the proposals, if any, he has to introduce any changes to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1017/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76, 116 and 143 together. Disabled person's maintenance allowance, is the primary income support scheme operated by my Department for people who, because of their disability, cannot work and are not in a position to maintain themselves in the community. The Regulations governing medical eligibility for disabled persons maintenance allowance specify that the applicant must be suffering from a "specified disability" which prevents him-her from undertaking work which would normally be suited to a person of his-her age, experience and qualifications. The term "specified disability" means an injury, disease, congenital deformity or physical or mental illness or defect which, in the opinion of a medical officer of the health board authorised by that board to examine or to have examined persons applying for or in receipt of a maintenance allowance, has continued or may reasonably be expected to continue for at least one year from its onset.

I am aware that concern has been expressed over the fact that persons with a HIV or AIDS diagnosis have had to wait in community welfare offices for payment of allowances which can cause distress in some circumstances. I understand that this matter is being examined by the health boards with a view to improving access to community welfare officers by this client group. Eligibility for social welfare benefit or assistance is a matter for the Minister for Social Welfare.