Disability Allowance

What is the disability allowance?

Disability Allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people with a disability in Ireland by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. It is available to people aged between 16 and 66, whose income falls below certain limits and who are “substantially handicapped” in undertaking work as a result of injury, disease, physical or mental disability.

How do I qualify for the disability allowance?

Firstly, you must be over 16 and under 66 years of age. If you are in this age bracket, then you will have to take a means test and be medically examined. The injury, disease or disability must have continued or be expected to continue for at least one year. Disability Allowance is not payable to a person who is considered to be in full-time residential care; however, in this case, you may be able to apply for a special weekly rate of €35.

You may need to attend a medical exam by a Medical Assessor, in order to prove that you satisfy the medical conditions for receipt of a disability allowance. The Medical Assessor is a registered doctor who will prepare a report on your condition based on the medical certificate completed by your GP.

If you need to take a medical examination, you will be told in advance, and are allowed to bring along evidence to support your case.

How much allowance will I receive?

Your weekly rate of payment depends on the amount of means you are assessed as having. The main items that count as means include:

  • Cash income, belonging to you or your spouse/partner
  • The value of any property you or your partner may have, but not your own home.
  • The value of any investments and savings you or your partner may have.
  • Maintenance paid to you if you are separated.

To work out your means, the cash value of any investments and property you have (apart from your home) is added together with any money you have in a savings account and any cash-in-hand. The first €20,000 of this is not taken into account. Your weekly rate of allowance is calculated based on any means you have above this amount.

The following do not count as means:

  • Your own home
  • A social welfare benefit paid to another member of your household
  • The first €100 of your partner’s weekly earnings, if they work four or more days a week
  • The first €50 plus travel of your partner’s weekly earnings, if they are employed three days or less per week
  • Money received from a recognised charity
  • The maintenance element of a higher education grant paid for you, a qualified adult of a child dependant, for certain courses
  • Income up to a certain limit from rehabilitative employment
  • Income from rehabilitative training
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance paid in respect of your child dependant(s)
  • Child Benefit, Supplementary Welfare Allowance or Allowances paid by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in respect of children who are placed in foster care or with relatives by the HSE
  • Mobility Allowance from the HSE
  • Income from employment by an HSE Area as a home help
  • Compensation awarded from: a court to persons who have contracted Hepatitis C or HIV from contaminated blood products; the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunals; the Residential Institutions Redress Board; or for disability caused by Thalidomide.

If you sell your house to move to more suitable accommodation, proceeds of the sale of your house up to €190,500 will also be disregarded when assessing means. This exemption only applies under certain circumstances; for instance, if you buy or rent alternative accommodation, if you move into a registered private nursing home, if you move in with a person caring for you in receipt of Carer’s Payment, or if you move to special or sheltered housing in voluntary, co-operative statutory or private sectors.


As of January 2006, the weekly maximum rate of Disability Allowance is €165.80, plus €111.00 for a qualified adult and €16.80 for each child dependant.

The allowance can be paid to you in a number of ways, and it is up to you to choose how you are paid. You can receive the allowance:

  • Directly into your Bank or Building Society Account
  • By a book of payable orders which can be cashed weekly at a chosen Post Office. If you are paid in this way and are unable to collect your allowance, you can nominate another person aged over 16 to collect it on your behalf.
  • By Electronic Information Transfer (EIT), using a Social Services card at a chosen Post Office if you wish to avail of the Household Budget Scheme. You cannot nominate another person to collect your payment using your Social Services Card and it must be collected each week.

Payments for dependants

You may be entitled to an allowance for a spouse or partner, as your ‘qualified adult’. You may also get an additional allowance if you have dependant children. You will not get an increase for a qualified adult if he/she has weekly income exceeding €250 or is receiving certain social welfare payments in his/her own right.

Can I take up employment or education while on the disability allowance?

You are allowed to engage in rehabilitative employment and earn up to €120 per week without your payment being affected. If you are in rehabilitative employment and have a weekly income between €120 and €350, 50% of your income will be taken into account under the means test and assessed as income, and your Disability Allowance reduced accordingly.

If you have been receiving Disability Allowance for at least 15 months and return to the workforce, you may qualify for the Back to Work Allowance, which allows you to continue receiving 75% of your Disability Allowance for the first year, 50% for the second year, and 25% for the third year.

You are can do further educational courses while getting the Disability Allowance, without them affecting your payments. If you take part in vocational training, you can get a training allowance from FÁS instead of your Disability Allowance, equivalent to the maximum personal rate of the Disability Allowance.

What other benefits might I qualify for?

You may also qualify for:

  • Living Alone increase
  • Fuel allowance
  • Household Benefits Package – including electricity, natural gas or bottled gas refill allowances, free television licence and telephone allowance
  • Island Allowance – if you live on a specified island off the coast of Ireland
  • Assistance under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme
  • HSE services, e.g., medical card or long-term illness card.

Where Can I Get More Information?

For information, contact your local Social Welfare Office, or contact the Disability Allowance Section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs at Tel: 043 45211.

Reviewed: September 29, 2006