There has been a significant increase in inquiries about Treatment Benefits available through PRSI in the first month of its introduction to self-employed people, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar announced today.
“As part of the New Deal for the Self-Employed, medical benefits including optical and dental treatments and hearing aid grants were extended to people who work for themselves last March. In the first month since its launch the number of people inquiring about Treatment Benefits has risen by 20%. That’s a significant increase in a short space of time and shows a clear level of interest in these new benefits for self-employed people,” Minister Varadkar said.
“Later this year we will give self-employed people access to the Invalidity Pension without a means test. For the first time they will have access to the safety-net of State income supports if they become permanently unable to work through illness or disability. There will be no increase in PRSI for this.”
Minister Varadkar spoke to the Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists today about the success of Treatment Benefits, including the extension of the Medical Appliance scheme for hearing aids to the self-employed who pay PRSI. This gives PRSI contributors the opportunity to receive a payment towards the purchase of hearing aids.
Other benefits now available to self-employed people since March include dental and optical treatments. And any new benefits under the scheme will be available to both employees and the self-employed in future.
But the Medical Appliance scheme for hearing aids accounted for 34% of spending under the Treatment Benefit scheme last year. So it’s a valuable help to the 9,560 people who received payments towards hearing aids in 2016, at a cost to the Department of over €7.5 million.
Demand for the Medical Appliance scheme is also rising: claims received in 2016 were 11% higher than in the previous year and 27% higher than in 2009.