News Q&A: Extension of dental, optical and aural services

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar at the opening of the DG McArdle International Transport and Logistic Depot in Co Dublin, this week.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar recently extended the Treatment Benefit scheme to some 450,000 self-employed people and their dependent spouses for the first time.

Farmers, along with small business owners, tradespeople, freelancers, contractors and professionals can now get free dental and optical examinations through PRSI, after Social Protection

Minister Leo Varadkar

extended the Treatment Benefit scheme to some 450,000 self-employed people and their dependent spouses for the first time.

It means that people who work for themselves and pay PRSI at class S can get the same regular dental and

optical examinations, free of charge.

Until now, these were only available to employees.

They can also get a grant for hearing aids of 50% of the cost, to a maximum of €500 per aid, every four years.

“Self-employed people now join the 2.2 million other PRSI contributors who already enjoy these benefits,” said Mr Vardakar.

“I will also bring in further benefits for the self-employed later this year, when self-

employed contributors who cannot work due to long term illness or disability will also have the option of applying for invalidity pension for the first time.

The Minister has also pledged to restore some treatment benefits available through PRSI which were

removed by previous

Governments.

These include restoration of scale and polish treatment under the dental scheme, and the option of free spectacles or a contribution towards a more expensive pair.

What is Treatment Benefit?

The Treatment Benefit Scheme run by the Department of Social Protection provides dental, optical and aural services to qualified people.

Treatment Benefit may allow you to qualify for dental benefit, optical benefit, contact lenses (on medical grounds), or hearing aids.

Dental benefit covers dental examination and diagnosis.

Optical benefit covers an eye examination only (but not for visual display units such as computers, nor for driving licences). If you need contact lenses on medical grounds, the department may pay up to half the cost.

The Department may pay up to half the cost of a hearing aid or repairs to a hearing aid

You may receive dental, hearing aid, or optical benefit for examinations, etc, carried out in other EU member states.

How do I qualify?

You must have paid Class A, E, P, H or S social insurance contributions.

The amount of social insurance you need depends on your age.

In general, you must have 13 paid contributions in a

recent contribution year.

If you qualify for benefit at age 60, you retain that entitlement for life.

Does social insurance outside Ireland count?

If you do not qualify for Treatment Benefit on your Irish social insurance record, but you worked and made social contributions within the European Economic Area, you may use your social insurance record in that country to help you qualify.

Am I entitled to Treatment Benefit on my spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant’s social insurance record?

You can get Treatment Benefit on your spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant’s PRSI record, provided they satisfy the qualifying contribution conditions, and you are dependent on your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant.

Can I qualify for Treatment Benefit as a widow, widower or surviving civil partner?

If you were entitled to Treatment Benefit on your spouse’s, civil partner’s or

cohabitant’s insurance record at the time of their death, you will continue to be entitled for as long as you remain widowed.

If you are working, you may qualify for Treatment Benefit on your own PRSI contribution record provided you satisfy the PRSI qualifying conditions.

How do I apply for Treatment Benefit?

You must apply to the

Department of Social Protection for approval by completing the appropriate application form(s).

Where can I get more

information?

For more information on the Treatment BenefitScheme, contact your local

Intreo Centre/Social Welfare Office, or the Treatment Benefit Section, Department of

Social Protection, Social Welfare Services, St Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal (telephone 074-9164480 or 1890 400 400).

For information booklets, application forms and more information on social welfare services, log on to the www.welfare.ie website.

Or drop in to your local

Intreo Centre/Social Welfare Office or Citizens Information Centre.

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