People in receipt of Disability Allowance can now earn more money and still retain their medical card, the Department of Health has announced.
Since December 1, the amount a person can earn before their medical card is taken away has risen from €120 per week to €427.
"This increase of more than 250% means that the earnings of someone in receipt of Disability Allowance that can be disregarded under the medical card assessment process has increased from €6,240 a year to €22,204," the department said.
According to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, this move ‘will address one of the key barriers to employment for persons with a disability - that is the fear or anxiety of the loss of the medical card if an individual takes up employment or returns to work'.
This was one of the key recommendations in the 2017 report, Make Work Pay for Persons with Disabilities.
One person who will benefit from this change is Peter Boyd (35), who had to give up working as a barman when he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
He went back to college and retrained, re-joining the workforce in 2017. He started working part-time with Cricket Ireland as their communications officer, but to date, he has had to be careful not to exceed the €120 per week medical card disregard, as he simply cannot afford to lose his medical card as a result of his medical needs.
This change means he can increase his hours and his earnings significantly for 2019.
The move has been welcomed by the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI).
"This is a big step forward. Fear of losing a medical card was identified as ‘the single greatest barrier' to work in the Make Work Pay report. There were 24 recommendations in that report that would make work pay for people with disabilities. They all need to be implemented so that the basic human right to work can become a reality," commented DFI chief executive, Senator John Dolan.
Anyone in receipt of Disability Allowance who was previously considered ineligible for a medical card, can apply here
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