There are a number of state entitlements available to people living with sight loss. For further information about any of the below entitlements you can contact the Citizens Information phone service on 0761 07 4000 or contact your local Citizens Information office. You can find your local office on this website.
The Blind Pension is a means tested payment for people between the ages of 18 and 66 who are blind or have a severe vision impairment, as verified by an ophthalmologist. It is a weekly payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, it can be collected at your local post office or paid directly into your bank account. Click here for more information about the Blind Pension.
If you qualify for the blind pension you will automatically qualify for a Free Travel Pass and Companion Free Travel Pass. A Free Travel Pass allows free travel on all public transport ad some private providers throughout Ireland. A Companion Free Travel Pass allows a companion over the age of 16 to travel for free with the person who holds the pass. The pass is issued as part of the Public Services Card. Click here for more information about the Free Travel Pass.
The disability allowance is also a means tested weekly payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is paid at the same rate as the blind pension but is applicable from the age of 16. Click here for more information about the Disability Allowance.
The Blind Welfare Allowance is a weekly payment paid by the HSE to people over 18 who are blind or vision impaired and satisfy a means test. You may qualify for the Blind Welfare Allowance if you are in receipt of the Blind Pension or if your income is below the combined rate of Blind Pension and Blind Welfare Allowance.
You will need to supply a letter from your ophthalmologist or from the NCBI to confirm that you meet the requirements for registration as legally blind in order to be eligible for this payment. Click here for more information about the Blind Welfare Allowance.
If you are in receipt of the Blind Pension or Disability Allowance, you may also qualify for the Household Benefits Package. This includes a free TV Licence and a contribution to the cost of your natural gas or electricity. Click here for more information about the Household Benefits Package.
If you are registered as blind with NCBI you are entitled to a Disabled Persons Parking Card, which allows the car you are travelling in to use public disability parking spaces. This card can be used within the 28 member states of the EU and is also recognised in the US and Canada. The scheme is administered by the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) and the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA). Click here for more information about the Disabled Person’s Parking Card.
A free directory enquiries service is available for people with disabilities, including people who are blind or vision impaired. While it is free to look up a number, if the service connects you directly to the number you will be charged. The free directory enquiries number is 196, however you must first register for the service by calling 1800 574 574 or by downloading and completing this form.
If you make PRSI contributions, you may qualify for dental, hearing or optical services under the treatment benefit scheme.
There are other social protection payments available which may be of use and these are listed on the Citizens Information Board website.