Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ceisteanna (63)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

63. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance if the primary medical certificate will be re-issued in circumstances to allow tax relief to be claimed (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10670/15]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, repayment of excise duty on fuel, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme, an applicant must have a permanent and severe physical disability within the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations (SI No. 353 of 1994) and satisfy one of the six qualifying criteria outlined in the Regulations. The Senior Medical Officer for the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. A successful applicant is provided with a Primary Medical Certificate, which is required under the Regulations to claim the reliefs provided for in the Regulations.

An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the Senior Medical Officer to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, which makes a new clinical determination in respect of the individual. The Regulations mandate that the Medical Board of Appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions to ensure the integrity of its clinical determinations. After six months a citizen can reapply if there is a deterioration in their condition.

To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled within the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 and satisfy one of the following conditions:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

There is no explicit provision in SI No. 353 of 1994 for the surrender of a Primary Medical Certificate. It was intended that the Primary Medical Certificate would be a declaration that the citizen would have a permanent and severe disability according to the definitions outlined in SI No. 353 of 1994. However, surrendering the Primary Medical Certificate would not have an impact on the citizen in this case.

As Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People informed the Deputy on 3 March 2015, the Government decided to continue monthly payments to those persons in receipt of Mobility Allowance at the time the scheme closed, pending the commencement of a statutory scheme, on the basis that this would prevent hardship and, on interim basis, alleviate stress, anxiety and uncertainty among a vulnerable group in society. Accordingly, the individual referred to by the Deputy was in receipt of €104.25 in February 2013 when the Government decided to close the mobility allowance. The €104.25 has been paid for the past two years and will continue to be paid to the individual at the existing rate until further instruction issues from the Department of Health, on foot of any further decisions the Government may make in this matter.