The Blind Pension is a means-tested payment paid to people who are blind or have low vision and who are habitually resident in Ireland. The payment is made by the Department of Social Protection.
The payment is made up of a personal rate for you and extra amounts for a qualified adult and any child dependants (see 'Rate of Blind Pension' below). If you get 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 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, Fuel Allowance and the Household Benefits Package.
Blind Pension is a taxable source of income.
Budget 2024: Blind Pension increase and once-off payment
It was announced in Budget 2024 that people on the maximum rate of Blind Pension will get an increase of €12 per week from January 2024. There will be proportional increases for qualified adults and people on reduced rates of payment.
People getting the Carer’s Support Grant, Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension or Blind Pension will get a once-off payment of €400 between 22 November 2023 and 24 November 2023. You will get the once-off payment on the same day you get your primary payment.
You will get one payment only, even if you qualify for more than one of these payments or you are caring for more than one person.
How to qualify for Blind Pension
To qualify for Blind Pension, you must:
- Be blind or have low vision
- Be aged 18 or over and under 66
- Be habitually resident in Ireland
- Satisfy a means test
What evidence of blindness or low vision is needed?
To qualify for Blind Pension, your vision must be significantly impaired, to the point where you're unable to carry out any job where eyesight is essential, or you can’t continue working in your regular occupation.
If you're registered with Vision Ireland, it usually means you meet this requirement. If you're not registered with Vision Ireland, you need to provide a medical report from an eye doctor (ophthalmic surgeon or optometrist) to the Department.
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 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 employment
- Income from rehabilitative training
- Foster care allowances
- Mobility Allowance from the Department of Health
- Blind Welfare Allowance paid by the HSE
- PhD scholarships of up to €20,000 per year for up to 4 years
If you are married, in a civil partnership or are cohabiting with another person, half of your joint means will be assessed.
The Department of Social Protection provides more information on the means test for Blind Pension.
Work and Blind Pension
You can earn €165 per week from employment before these earnings affect your payment. If you earn more than €165 per week from work, half of your earnings between €165 and €375 are not taken into account in the Blind Pension means test. All your earnings over €375 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.
There are no disregards for your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant's earnings.
Rate of Blind Pension
Blind Pension rates 2023
|Maximum personal rate||Increase for an adult dependant||Increase for a child dependant
|€220||€146||Child under 12 years of age
Child 12 years of age and over
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)
- Partial Capacity Benefit
- Paternity Benefit
- Parent’s Benefit
- Occupational Injuries Benefits including Injury Benefit, Disablement Benefit and Death Benefits
- 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 or qualified children with your Blind Pension, an increase is also payable on the schemes listed above.
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.
One-Parent Family Payment and Blind Pension
If you qualify for One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Blind Pension, you can get both payments at the full rate. People who qualify for Blind Pension do not need to meet the age conditions for OFP. This means you can claim both Blind Pension and OFP together until your youngest child is 16, including any increases for a qualified child.
When to apply for Blind Pension
If you are under 18 and you are blind or have a serious visual impairment, you should make your claim 3 months before your 18th birthday.
You can't get Blind Pension if you are under 18, however, you may qualify for Disability Allowance if you are 16 or over.
If you become blind or develop low vision after you turn 18, 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 Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit.
Blind Pension is not paid after you turn 66.
How to apply for Blind Pension
To apply, fill in application form (BP1) (pdf) and send to the Department of Social Protection at the address below.
A braille and audio cassette tape version of this application form is also available from the Vision 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 marriage, civil partnership, civil union or birth took place outside of Ireland.
You must tell the Department of Social Protection if there are any changes to your circumstances while you are getting a Blind Pension within 3 months of the change. 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.
Can I appeal a decision?
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.
Where to apply
Your completed application form should be returned to the Department of Social Protection at the following address: