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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection. To qualify for the Pension you must supply an eye test from an opthalmic surgeon 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.
Budget 2018: the maximum weekly Blind Pension rate will increase by €5, with proportional increases for qualified adults and those on reduced rates of payment. In addition, the weekly rate for a qualified child will increase by €2 from €29.80 to €31.80. These increases will take effect from the week beginning 26 March 2018.
One-Parent Family Payment and Blind Pension
Blind Pension is payable with One-Parent Family Payment (OFP). This means that a person who qualifies for OFP and Blind Pension can get both payments at the full rate. People who qualify for Blind Pension are exempted from the age conditions for OFP. This means that you can claim both Blind Pension and OFP (and any IQCs payable with both Blind Pension and OFP) together until your youngest child is 16 years of age.
If you are blind or have a serious visual impairment before 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.) Blind Pension is not paid after you turn 66.
If you become blind or seriously visually impaired after your 18th birthday, you should apply as soon as possible. This is important as payment can only be made from the date your application is received. If you require full-time care, the person looking after you may qualify for a Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit.
The means test
The main items that are counted as means include:
- Any cash income that you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may have (including income from employment)
- The value of savings, investments, shares, land etc.
- Any property you may have
- Maintenance paid to you if you are deserted, separated or a civil partner not living with the other civil partner.
The following items are not counted as means for Blind Pension:
- Your own home
- Any payment made by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
- The value of the first €20,000 of capital assets (for example, savings)
- Money received from a recognised charitable organisation (excluding public or local authority)
- The maintenance part of a student grant from SUSI paid to you, a qualified adult or child dependant(s) for certain courses
- Income up to a certain limit from rehabilitative employment
- Income from rehabilitative training
- Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Child Benefit, Supplementary Welfare Allowance or foster care allowances
- Mobility Allowance from the Department of Health
- Blind Welfare Allowance paid by the HSE
Work and Blind Pension
You can earn €120 per week from rehabilitative employment before these earnings affect your payment. If you earn more than €120 per week from rehabilitative work, 50% of your earnings between €120 and €350 are not taken into account in the Blind Pension means test. All your earnings over €350 are assessed as income and your entitlement to Blind Pension will be reduced in line with the appropriate reduced rates of payment for Blind Pension.
If you have income from work that is not rehabilitative the following disregards apply:
- €400 of your annual earnings
- €265 of your annual earning if your spouse/partner is living with you or is wholly or mainly maintained by you.
- €133 of your annual earnings for each of your qualified children under age 18 (or under age 22 if in full time education).
There are no disregards for your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant's earnings.
Blind Pension and other payments
If you are under age 66 and you satisfy the relevant conditions, you may also qualify for:
- Adoptive Benefit
- Half-rate Carer’s Allowance
- Health and Safety Benefit
- Illness Benefit
- Injury Benefit
- Jobseeker’s Benefit
- Maternity Benefit
- One-Parent Family Payment (until your youngest child is 16)
- Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory and Non-Contributory Pension
If an increase is payable for a qualified spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and/or qualified children with your Blind Pension, an increase is also payable on the schemes listed above.
Blind Pension is payable while you are getting Partial Capacity Benefit. Partial Capacity Benefit is not taken into account in the means test for Blind Pension but your earnings are taken into account and may affect the amount of Blind Pension paid.
|Blind Pension||Weekly rate (maximum) €|
|Increase for a Qualified Adult||128.10|
|Increase for a Qualified Child||29.80 (full rate)
14.90 (half rate)
How to apply
To apply, fill in application form (BP1) (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 Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. Staff in your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office will be happy to help you to complete the form and can answer any questions you may have.
When you apply for Blind Pension, you may need to send the Department certificates if the relevant birth(s), marriage, civil partnership or civil union took place outside the Republic of Ireland.
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.
You must always tell the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection if there are any changes to your circumstances while you are getting a Blind Pension. If your means or circumstances change you may no longer qualify for the payment or it may be reduced. This could mean that you have to repay an overpayment.
Where to apply
Your completed application form should be returned to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection at the following address:
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
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 (If calling from outside the Republic of Ireland please call + 353 71 915 7100)
Locall: 1890 500 000 (Note: the rates charged for using 1890 (Lo-call) numbers may vary)
You can email the Blind Pension section using the secure enquiry form.