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42% of applications for disability allowance rejected in 2018.

February 14 2019, 12:23pm

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"Not being believed was one of the hardest things. It took 16 months in total to get disability allowance — it was so cruel.” - Michelle

A quarter of the country’s disabled population lives in poverty. While 42% of applications for disability allowance made in 2018 were rejected. It’s unacceptable, writes Joan O’Donnell.

More than 140,000 people in Ireland now live on a disability allowance, equivalent to the entire population of Wicklow. These numbers are rising every year, even though it is extremely tough to qualify and it almost guarantees a life of poverty.

Take Michelle from Cork, who was turned down four times for disability allowance, despite being unable to walk. 

She says: “I could honestly have killed myself with the stress. I cried constantly, I hope to never, ever have to repeat anything like it. In 11 months, I had seven medical assessments. 

"Not being believed was one of the hardest things. It took 16 months in total to get disability allowance — it was so cruel.

Michelle is just one of the 39,000 people who have no choice but to go through the hoops of applying for a social welfare payment that is means-tested. She is one of many habitually turned down on their first application.

But 70% of the people who appealed then got their payment. The system is clearly inefficient as well as inhumane.  

Because these refusals hit people at their most fragile. Often coming to terms with a new diagnosis or a deterioration in a chronic condition. Maybe dealing with suddenly having to give up work — they are then faced with additional stress, delays, and uncertainty about being able to eat and pay rent or mortgage.

Pat from Donegal, who lives with chronic pain after an accident, says:

“People with disabilities like me just don’t have the energy to fight the system and keep appealing. All my time is taken up with managing my condition. It is unfair to have to keep fighting for entitlements.

Joan O'Donnell is a Development Manager with DFI, read her full article in The Examiner here: https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews//views/analysis/vulnerable-people-left-fall-through-the-cracks-902014.html