Simplification measure related to persons with severe disabilities
Around 90% of those persons with severe disabilities will not have to re-appear before a medical board when they turn 16 years of age. This is another simplification measure aimed at persons with Down Syndrome or any other severe disability. Through this reform, persons with severe disabilities will not be subject to a second means test.
This was announced during a ‘Gvern għan-Nies’ press conference in St. Paul’s Bay. The event was addressed by the Minister for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights Michael Falzon together with the Minister for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing Julia Farrugia Portelli.
Minister Farrugia Portelli explained that last November the Ministry for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing launched a consultation process with stakeholders. During this process the point was raised in that persons aged 16, amongst others with Down Syndrome; had to re-appear in front of a medical board to confirm whether such a person has a severe disability. As with other medical conditions, a child born with down syndrome will live with this condition for the rest of its life.
Minister Farrugia Portelli stated that “we believe that this process was a bureaucratic one and that it was creating a double inconvenience since parents were experiencing an added burden and also having to utilise their vacation leave. During the week in which we will commemorate persons with Down Syndrome, we believe that this step shows that is a government for the people, listens to their views and works to improve their quality of life”.
Minister Michael Falzon explained that through the planned amendment, those parents of children who are about to turn 16, and are receiving a Disabled Child Allowance (DCA), will be notified in order to provide the necessary information about their child in relation to the means testing that is carried out. The application will then be processed automatically with the information provided and those who are entitled will be receiving the benefit entitlement without the child having to appear before a panel again.
Minister Michael Falzon stated that he believes in the policy where one stays in close contact with the people, continues to simplify and make life easier, in such a difficult time for everyone, in particular for those persons with disabilities and their families. The minister recalled that nowadays those disabled persons who are unable to work due to their disability, are receiving the equivalent of the national minimum wage, while a number of incentives have been launched to incentivise more disabled persons to enter the world of employment.