Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has published an amendment to extend the payment of Disability Allowance for three months, following the death of a child in line with Domiciliary Care Allowance.
This call echoes the advocacy efforts of Tracy McGinnis, who experienced the heartbreak of losing her disabled son Brendan, who she spent seventeen years caring for.
Just weeks after his death, Tracy received a repayment demand for a Disability Allowance payment that the Department for Social Protection had found to be overpaid.
Although the demand has been overturned, Tracy’s experience has exposed the need to extend the payment of Disability Allowance to Carers following the death of a child, which are currently not in place.
Speaking about the proposed amendment, Teachta Kerrane said:
“Currently, if a child you are caring for passes away under the age of 16, the payment of Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) rightly continues for three months.
“Yet, if you are caring for a child who dies and is 16 or older, their Disability Allowance payment ceases immediately. This leaves those Family Carers facing a financial cliff edge whilst also grieving the loss of their child.
“DCA is payable until a child turns 16, at that point the child can receive Disability Allowance (which is means tested) and where that child is severely disabled, it is typically collected by a parent or guardian, who are known as Agents.
“I have drafted an amendment to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, to change the rules regarding the payment of Disability Allowance after death. I have sent this amendment to Minister Humphreys today.
“The amendment would extend the three month rule which is in place for DCA to those caring for their disabled child and who are in receipt of Disability Allowance, meaning they too would continue to receive Disability Allowance for three months following the death of a child.
“I want to thank Tracy for raising awareness about this gap in existing legislation. Her tireless efforts seek to prevent the suffering of other families who may find themselves in the same situation.
“I am calling on the Minister to accept this amendment with urgency. It is an important change that will make a difference to families who sadly lose a child they were caring for at home.
“The loss of a child is devastating. At that most difficult time in a parent’s life, our social protection system must provide support, not cause further distress.”