Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Ceisteanna (596)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

596. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will request the HSE to consider developing a scheme to assist elderly pensioners who suffer from illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with the costs of purchasing the oxygen tanks they need in order to remain in their homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The provision of medical equipment such as oxygen tanks is a matter for the HSE. According to the details supplied by the Deputy, the issue at question is the cost of the electricity required to operate oxygen equipment required by persons with illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Department currently provides an electricity allowance, payable at the rate of €35 per month, as part of the household benefits package. The package is generally available to people living in the State, aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of a social welfare type payment or who satisfy a means test. The package is also available to carers and people with disabilities under the age of 66 who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments. Widows and widowers aged from 60 to 65 whose late spouses had been in receipt of the household benefits package retain that entitlement.

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is considered the "safety net" within the overall social welfare system in that it provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. Under the SWA scheme, my Department may award a supplement to assist with ongoing or recurring costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources and are deemed to be necessary. In addition, the Department can make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. Payments are made at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case.

Any person who consider they may have an entitlement under the SWA scheme should contact the Department's Community Welfare Service at their local INTREO centre.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.