Disabled people who work 'should not lose medical card and travel pass', Oireachtas report finds

The joint report says the system is "rife with disincentives" for people to seek employment

Disabled people who work 'should not lose medical card and travel pass', Oireachtas report finds

File photo of a disabled entrance door button | Image: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/PA Images

A report by three combined Oireachtas committees has found that Ireland requires a root-and-branch reform of how State agencies support people with disabilities.

It singles out support as they progress from school and training courses into employment.

Critically, the report finds the system is "rife with disincentives for people requiring special assistance to seek work at all".

It adds that "success" in the jobs market often means the loss or reduction of essential State-provided supports.

The report notes: "People with disabilities should not be prevented from retaining a medical card and travel pass if they enter full-time employment.

"The current system disincentives jobseekers with disabilities, because they lose medical card coverage once they gain a full-time income.

"The current means-tested system does not recognise the extra costs of transport, personal assistance and medical appointments associated with managing disabilities alongside full-time work."

Means-tested supports

The report, Review of Supports Available to People With Disabilities Transitioning From Education or Training Into Employment, was published Friday by the Joint Committees on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Education and Skills, and Health.

It recommends the qualifying criteria and cut-off points for means-tested supports should be applied consistently.

"Some essential supports, such as hearing aids, are provided only to medical card holders, not to PRSI contributors.

"Such inconsistencies in eligibility for state-aided assistance should be eliminated", it says.

It also says the Government should establish a commission to investigate and document "the true additional cost of living with a disability" in Ireland.

Evidence provided to the committees suggests this average cost is over €200 weekly - excluding hourly fees charged by personal assistants.

It adds that replacement travel supports should be provided to those denied assistance from two discontinued schemes: Motorised Transport Grant and Mobility Allowance.

It wants the Government to prioritise passage of the Health (Transport Support) Bill to address this problem.

It also says the National Council for Special Education should help schools, particularly at secondary level, create spaces for children with autism.

While special schools for people with disabilities should offer the Leaving Certificate and career guidance as options.

And it says children moving from primary to secondary schools should not lose State-funded special needs assistance (SNA) - which it says is "often the current practice."

Read the full report here