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 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.
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 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:
- Your own home
- A payment from the Department received by another member of the household
- 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 element of a higher education grant 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 allowances paid by Health Service Executive (HSE) for children who are placed in foster care or with relatives by the HSE
- Mobility Allowance from the Department of Health
Appealing a decision on your claim
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 2014
How to apply
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):
- Your full birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate (if appropriate)
- Birth certificates for dependent children (if you are claiming an increase for a qualified child and you are not receiving Child Benefit for these children).
You can obtain copies of these certificates from the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. (Photocopies of your original certificates are not acceptable).
Where to apply
Your completed application form (together with the above certificates) should be returned to the Department of Social Protection at the following address:
Department of 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
Locall:1890 500 000
You can email the Blind Pension section using the secure enquiry form.