Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has described Minister Humphrey’s response to her proposed amendment to Disability Allowance legislation as ‘deeply disappointing’.
The drafted amendment would extend the payment of Disability Allowance for three months following the death of a child, in line with Domiciliary Care Allowance.
In an exchange in the Dáil this morning, Minister Humphreys agreed to review the processes around Disability Allowance but did not agree to implement the much-needed change to address this gap in current legislation.
Teachta Kerrane put forward this amendment having engaged with Tracy McGinnis, who has advocated extensively on the need to extend the Disability Allowance payment following the death of a child over the age of 16.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“Minister Humphrey’s reply is just not good enough and skirts around the issue, rather than just addressing it.
“While she acknowledged the situation that Tracy experienced, she would not acknowledge that there is an anomaly in existing legislation.
“Tracy’s experience has exposed the cliff-edge that exists where on the death of a child in receipt of Disability Allowance, the payment ceases immediately. This is not the case for younger children under 16 years of age and in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance nor is it the case where the deceased recipient of Disability Allowance is a partner or spouse in which case the payment continues for 6 weeks.
“So not only are there discrepancies around the continuation of supports depending on the age of the child, there are also differences depending on relationship.
“Why would we treat the death of a fifteen year old with a disability and a sixteen year old with a disability differently? Why would we allow the continuation of Disability Allowance following the death for a husband or partner but not for a son or daughter? This makes no sense.
“There is no rational reason for this and the gap in legislation must be addressed to rectify this unfair anomaly immediately.
“The Minister has committed to a review of the processes, but this just delays the appropriate action needed to address this serious issue. Rather than review, the Minister should implement the necessary amendment which I have already drafted and sent to her.
“The Minister said in her reply to me that her Department ‘recognises the need for a transition period during which people can grieve and plan for a life following the death of a family member’ yet this was not afforded to Tracy McGinnis and it will not be in future, unless this amendment is made.
“This is an important amendment that will make a difference to families who sadly lose a child they were caring for at home.”