The Blind Pension is a means-tested payment paid to blind and visually impaired people who are habitually resident in Ireland. The payment is made by the Department of Social Protection. To qualify for the Pension you will be required to have an eye test by an opthalmic surgeon (paid for by the Department) to verify your visual impairment.
The payment is made up of a personal rate for you and extra amounts for a qualified adult and any child dependants (see 'Rates' below). If you are awarded a Blind Pension, you may also qualify for the Blind Welfare Allowance paid by the HSE.
You will automatically get a Free Travel Pass and a Companion Free Travel Pass. (A Free Travel Pass allows you to travel on State public transport in Ireland for free. A Companion Free Travel Pass allows your companion aged 16 or over to also travel for free). You may also qualify for other benefits such as the Living Alone Increase and the Household Benefits Package.
Blind Pension is a taxable source of income.
If you are blind or have a serious visual impairment prior to reaching 18 years, you should make your claim 4 months before your 18th birthday. (If you are aged 16-18, you may qualify for Disability Allowance.)
If you become blind or seriously visually impaired after your 18th birthday, you should apply as soon as the condition arises. This is important as payment can only be made from the date when your application is received. If you require full-time care and attention, the person looking after you may qualify for a Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit.
You can earn €120 per week from rehabilitative employment before these earnings affect your payment. If you have been receiving a Blind Pension for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for the Back to Work Allowance
Since June 2006, if you are in rehabilitative employment and have a weekly income above €120 and below €350 a week, a tapered 50% withdrawal rate will apply.
The main items that are counted as means include:
The following items are not counted as means:
If you are unhappy with a decision made about your claim for Blind Pension, you can appeal against it. Find out more about the social welfare appeals process.
Blind Pension maximum weekly rates in 2013
|Blind Pension||Weekly rate (maximum), €|
|Qualified child||29.80 (full rate)
14.90 (half rate)
To apply fill in application form (BP1) for a Blind Pension (pdf). A braille and audio cassette tape version of this application form is also available from the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. This application form is also available from your local social welfare office. Staff in your local social welfare office will be happy to provide assistance in completing the form and can answer any questions you may have.
You are also required to attach the following certificates with your claim for Blind Pension (this will help avoid delays in processing your claim):
You can obtain copies of these certificates from the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. (Photocopies of your original certificates are not acceptable).
Your completed application form (together with the above certificates) should be returned to the Department of Social Protection at the following address:
Social Welfare Services
Opening Hours:This office does not offer a service to personal callers. All queries must be made using the online enquiry form, by telephone or in writing.
Tel:(071) 915 7100
Locall:1890 500 000
You can email the Blind Pension section using the secure Blind
Pension enquiry form.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.