What is the Long-Term Illness Scheme?

If your child has specific illnesses or conditions as listed on the HSE Long-Term Illness Scheme, your child may be allowed to obtain treatment, medicines, and equipment directly related to their illness free of charge.

Can I have a Long-Term Illness Card and a Medical Card?

Children can have both the Long-Term Illness Card and their Medical Card. Both schemes are separate, and neither is means-tested once your child has their Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance. The main benefit of having the Long-Term Illness Card is that you do not have to pay any prescription fees, even the €1.50 per prescription when you have a Medical Card.

Is there a cost?

If your child with additional needs qualifies for the Long-Term Illness Scheme, there is no cost. Other drugs and medicines not related to the specified condition must be paid for in the usual way.

How does the Long-Term Illness Scheme work?

Your child must have one of the listed conditions below. Remember your child’s primary diagnoses might not be on the list, but if they meet the diagnoses of one of the conditions, then apply under this criteria.

What are the medical conditions covered under the Long-Term Illness Scheme?

The conditions covered by the scheme are:

Acute leukaemia

Cerebral palsy

Cystic fibrosis

Diabetes insipidus

Diabetes mellitus (Gestational diabetes not included)




Intellectual disability

Mental health condition – people age 16 and younger

Muscular dystrophy

Multiple sclerosis



Spina bifida

Thalidomide conditions

How do I know if my child’s medicines are on the list?

The HSE has a list of approved medicines covered under the scheme. Click on the HSE Website and the diagnoses, to see the complete list.

How to apply?

Fill in the application form, which is available to download from here. If you cannot download the form, phone 0818 224 478 to order one over the phone, or you can request the form from your local health office. Your doctor or consultant will sign the form to confirm your child’s condition and list their medication. You will need your child’s PPS number and basic personal information.

You will get a Long-Term Illness book and an authorisation letter if your child qualifies. This letter lists the medicines for treating your child’s condition, which your local pharmacist will provide free of charge.

How do I check the status of my application?

When you apply and provide a mobile number, the department will text you a reference number. They will post the reference number to you if you prefer not to provide a mobile number. You can use your reference number to check the status of your application online.

How can I check if I have a valid Card?

The HSE provides a website where parents can check if the card is valid or needs renewal. https://www.sspcrs.ie/portal/checker/pub/check

How do I contact the Long-Term Illness Department?

Long-Term Illness Scheme, Client Registration Unit, PO Box 12962, Dublin 11, D11 XKF3. Phone 0818 224 478 or email clientregistration@hse.ie.

What are the options if I do not qualify for Long-Term Illness Card?

There are other schemes which protect parents of children with special needs from excessive medical costs. Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no family pays more than €80 a month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines.

If your child’s medication is not approved, you may have the option to apply under the Hardship Scheme. This is when the HSE will cover the cost of the medication to avoid undue hardship to a family.

Finally, a parent may also be entitled to claim tax relief on the cost of their medical expenses. This includes medicines prescribed by a doctor, dentist, or consultant. Relief is at the standard tax rate of 20%. Details on how to claim are at www.revenue.ie.