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Disability allowance to increase as part of system reform
Social solidarity minister says that following initiatives to help those with a disability join the workforce, reform is the second stage in the government’s promise to help those living with a disability
19 December 2016, 4:22pm
Speaking at the launch of the reform, social solidarity minister Michael Farrugia said that in Budget 2015, the government had placed quotas on employers in an attempt to encourage people living with a disability to join the workforce.
Farrugia said that this initiative had proved successful, with over 800 people receiving a wage from employment, in addition to their disability pension. According to the minister, the pension system reform represents the second stage of the government’s pledge to improve the quality of life of those living with a disability.
He said that during over the past year, he had spoken about the need for government to focus on those people who, owing to the nature of their disability, are not able to enter the workforce. It was for this reason, said Farrugia, that the government had decided to change the present system.
The reform, he said, will see more people being eligible for one of three levels of assistance: that given to people with a disability, assistance for those with a severe disability and additional assistance given to those with a severe disability.
In all cases, applicants must be under the age of 60 to qualify for this pension, and those qualifying for more than one type of social benefit will be entitled to the most advantageous one, in accordance with Article 90 of the Social Security Act.
Level 1 – Additional assistance for severe disabilities
Individuals that, because of the nature of their disability, are not able to do any form of work will qualify for a disability pension under this level of the scheme.
Those qualifying will be entitled to €120 a week, that will gradually increase to the level of the national minimum wage.
The severity of one’s disability will be determined according to the Barthel Index, with each case being evaluated by a multi-disciplinary board. Assistance offered under this level will be not be taxed, and those qualifying will be entitled to free medicine and any other requirements such as hearing aids, dentures and other similar items.
Level 2 – Severe disability assistance
This level will include those that are currently receiving a disability pension and that are able to work.
The rate for those qualifying under this level will be a maximum of €102.13 a week, with an additional increase based on the cost of living adjustment. Any income from employment will not affect the pension received by those who qualify. Moreover, income from employment will not be considered in determining whether applicants can qualify for free medication.
Level 3 – Disability assistance
Those who for whatever reason have lost a limb will be entitled to an allowance as of the 1 January 2017. Farrugia said that currently, these people do not legally qualify for disability allowance and this will be rectified through the reform.
Those qualifying under this level of assistance will be entitled to up to €76.60 a week in disability allowance, and will not have income from employment considered when their application is being assessed. Eligibility for free medical aid will be means tested under this level of assistance.
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