Press Release by the Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights and the Ministry for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing: a difference in the lives of over one hundred youths with severe disabilities
Reference Number: PR211369
Over a hundred youths with Down Syndrome or with other severe disabilities shall not be required to appear before a Medical Board in order to benefit from Severe Disability Assistance. Previously relatives of these person had to re-apply and appear before the Board because their children had turned 16 years old and thus no longer fell within the Disability Child Allowance category.
This was announced during a news conference by Ministers Michael Falzon and Julia Farrugia Portelli who explained how this simplification measure would lead to less bureaucracy, waste of vacation leave days and other unnecessary stress.
Minister Falzon said that it was considered necessary that this process was discontinued, moreover he explained that this was another form of social justice which shall give everyone the opportunity to reach their potential. “This is why we are a government that listens, a government of the people for the people, a government which intervenes where necessary to give a better quality of life to those who are already facing challenges in their lives” said Minister Michael Falzon.
Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said “ This March we announced that we were going to introduce a simplification measure for persons with severe disabilities so that over 90% of persons with severe disabilities would not have to re-appear before the Medical Board when they turned 16 years old. We have begun to implement what we announced in March: this June all those persons with severe disabilities who were about to turn 16 or had turned 16 between January 2021 and August 2021 were notified that they would be eligible for Severe Disability Assistance. Throughout this August those turning 16 between September and December of this year shall also be notified.
Minister Farrugia Portelli added that the implementation of this measure is further evidence of how much this government is ready to listen, consider what it is told and has no qualms about making needed changes and improvements where the message is found to be justified. “We shall continue to show our determination to do all that is possible to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities as well as their relatives, as for us they are people equal to all others” concluded the Minister.
George Cremona, Director within the Department of Social Security explained how these parents shall not need to re-apply but shall instead receive a notification some days prior to receiving the benefits. He explained how the Department is reducing bureaucracy in other areas such as that of the Carers’ Grant that is given to parents who are caring for their children with severe disabilities. Even in this case, parents are no longer required to re-apply for this benefit.
Joanne Xerri, mother of a person with Down Syndrome expressed her satisfaction at this news, she described how this shall considerably relieve parents who are already taking a substantial amount of leave to attend regular visits with their children.
The implementation of this simplification measure began in June of this year and all those eligible persons with severe disabilities who were about to turn 16 or had turned 16 between January 2021 and August 2021 have been notified. Throughout August those eligible persons under this simplification measure who will be turning 16 between September and December 2021 shall be notified.
The Chief Executive Officer of Aġenzija Sapport, Ruth Rose Sciberras was also present at the press conference.