Donegal father’s bid to change ‘unfair’ law

A Gaoth Dobhair father’s bid to end what he describes as the “unfair treatment of special needs teenagers” has drawn hundreds of signatures of support.
John Joe McGinley is calling on Disability Minister Anne Rabbitte to reconsider the system which automatically shifts a young person from Domiciliary Care Allowance to Disability Allowance once they turn 16.
He says removing the financial safety net severely disadvantages the child by leaving them having to apply for a new means-tested benefit which they are not guaranteed to get.
Mr McGinley is the father of two boys on the autism spectrum, eight-year-old Joseph and 14-year-old James.
Because of their lifelong medical conditions both Joseph and James qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance, a monthly non-means tested payment which helps cover the extra care and attention they need.
The money is used to look after them but it also covers expenses that arise from seeking private medical options, such as dental care, which are not always readily available.
“My eldest boy is 14 and has just started secondary school,” Mr McGinley said.
“I hope and pray he remains in education as long as possible but when he turns 16, under the current legislation in Ireland, he loses his Domiciliary Care Allowance and has to apply himself as an adult in his own right for Disability Allowance.
“Disability Allowance is a means-tested payment for people who, as a result of their disability, are substantially restricted in undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable for a person of their age, experience and qualifications.
“As any parent of a child with special needs will tell you their condition does not magically disappear over night and the process of applying for any support is both time consuming and a traumatic experience.
“Many children with disabilities are denied Disability Allowance while still in education. This removal of Domiciliary Care Allowance in many cases increases child poverty and removes the ability of families to fund additional resources which the state is not providing.”
By starting the petition Mr McGinley hopes to make the Minister Rabbitte aware of how problematic the current system is for families.
“I don’t feel that it would take an awful lot for the government to make this change,” the Gaoth Dobhair man added.
To sign the petition go to and search for ‘End unfair treatment of Special Needs Teenagers in Ireland’.

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