Illness in your retirement
While the vast majority of retired people enjoy a healthy life, there are some who suffer illness and disability and may need care. Some may have retired because of the onset of illness or disability. The payments and services to which you are entitled depend on your age and on your needs. The Department of Social Protection (DSP) is responsible for the payments mentioned below except where otherwise stated.
Income supports for older people
If you are already a pensioner when you become ill or acquire a disability, your income arrangements do not change; you continue to receive your pension and other entitlements.
If you are employed you may continue to be paid by your employer but this depends on your contract of employment. Employers are not obliged to pay employees who are unable to work because of illness but some contracts of employment include provisions for payment while ill. This applies regardless of age.
Aged Under 66
If you become ill and unable to work before the age of 66, you may be eligible for Illness Benefit. Your GP will have application forms.
Illness Benefit is based on PRSI contributions. If you do not qualify because you do not have enough PRSI contributions or because you are self-employed, you may be eligible for a weekly Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
If your illness or disability arises from a work-related accident or illness you may qualify for Occupational Injuries Benefit.
Long-term illness and disability
If you have a long-term illness or disability and cannot continue to work, you may be able to claim your occupational or personal pension scheme if you have one and you may qualify for Illness Benefit. If you remain unable to work for a year or more you may qualify for Invalidity Pension. If you do not qualify for Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension, you may apply for the means-tested Disability Allowance.
If you qualify for Invalidity Pension or Disability Allowance, you may also qualify for Free Travel and the Household Benefits Package. If you have problems paying your rent, you may be able to get Rent Supplement.
The Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme may also provide help with various costs such as heating, exceptional needs and urgent needs.
There are a number of housing grants available for older people and people with disabilities. If your home needs to be adapted to enable you to continue to live there, you may qualify for the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability. The adaptations could include adding on an extra room, making the house wheelchair accessible or putting in a ground-floor bathroom and toilet. Apply to your local authority. The Health Service Executive (HSE) also provides grants under the Housing Aid for Older People Scheme and the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme.
If your own home is unsuitable you may be able to get a specially adapted local authority house for older people and people with disabilities, or an adapted house provided by a voluntary housing organisation. The availability of such houses and eligibility for them vary around the country.
Care at home
If you are in need of care, the HSE may provide it or help you to pay for it. Your carer may also be able to get a payment from the Department of Social Protection.
Help with home care
If you need support in order to enable you to continue to live at home, you may be able to get help from the Community Care Services section of the HSE. The help you may get includes home help and public health nursing.
The Home Care Package Scheme helps people who need caring support to continue to live at home independently.
You may qualify for tax relief on the costs of employing a carer for a family member, either directly or through an agency.
This is a means-tested payment to people who provide full-time care to a person who is incapacitated. Those who look after more than one person may be eligible for an additional 50% of the maximum rate of the payment. If you receive a Carer's Allowance, you may also qualify for Free Travel and the Household Benefits Package.
You can work or take education or training courses for up to 15 hours a week, as long as you make adequate arrangements for the care of the person who needs full-time care and attention and inform the Department of Social Protection.
Half-rate Carer's Allowance
If you are getting certain social welfare payments and you are providing full-time care and attention to another person, you can keep your main social welfare payment and get Half-rate Carer's Allowance.
This is a social insurance payment for people who give up work to care for a person who is incapacitated and who needs full-time care and attention. It may be paid for up to two years and increases are paid if you have child dependants. If you look after more than one person, you may be eligible for an additional 50% of the maximum payment. You must be between the ages of 18 and 66 and have enough PRSI contributions to be eligible for Carer's Benefit. You may be eligible for Carer's Leave from your employment.
You can work or take education or training courses for up to 15 hours a week, as long as you make adequate care arrangements, inform the Department of Social Protection and don't exceed an income limit.
Respite Care Grant
The Respite Care Grant is available to carers providing full-time care to an older person or a person with a disability regardless of means. It does not apply to people getting an unemployment payment or those who are working outside the home for more than 15 hours per week. The grant is paid in June each year. You get this payment automatically if you are getting a carer's payment, otherwise apply to the Department of Social Protection.
Medical card/GP visit card
You may qualify for a medical card.
If you do not qualify for a medical card because your means are too high, you are automatically assessed for a GP visit card, which has higher income guidelines.
Long-Term Illness Scheme
Under the Long-Term Illness Scheme drugs, medicines and some approved appliances prescribed for the treatment of certain medical conditions are available free of charge.
Drugs Payment Scheme
If you don't have a medical card the Drugs Payment Scheme covers prescribed drugs and medicines costs that are over a set monthly amount. Application forms are available from your local pharmacy, Local Health Office or health centre.Hospital charges
There are charges for public hospitals, but some people are exempt, including medical card holders. If you opt for private hospital care, you have to pay the total costs involved. Some or all of these costs may be covered by private health insurance.
You can claim medical expenses against income tax paid. You must first make any other claim that you can, for example, from private health insurance.There is tax relief on the costs of employing a carer for a family member