Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has welcomed the progression of her plans to extend terminal illness provision in social security benefits following Executive agreement to introduce the draft Bill into the Assembly.
Minister Hargey said,
“I am committed to ensuring that those who find themselves in the most devastating of circumstances do not face any additional stress or anxiety in accessing financial support. This change will mean more people will gain access through the fast track process.
“I will be keeping these provisions under review and considering further options for reform in the future.”
The Minister, whose proposals extends the current six months criterion to twelve months, has sought accelerated passage of the legislation to ensure the changes can be made in this mandate.
The extension of terminal illness provision will apply to all of the five social security benefits to which the special rules apply.
Minister Hargey continued,
“This reform is a priority for my Department. Although timescales are challenging, I am doing everything I can to make sure these changes are made as soon as possible.”
The change will open up the scope of the current system meaning more terminally ill people will qualify for fast track support in social security benefits, without the need to apply under the normal application and assessment route.
Notes to editors:
- The special rules for terminal illness provide an automatic entitlement to certain benefits, and crucially, fast-tracked financial support where a person has received a diagnosis of a terminal illness and death is reasonably expected within six months. This extension will result in access to fast tracked financial support when a diagnosis has been received and death is reasonably expected within 12 months.
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