Businessman Sitting in a Wheelchair Working in a LaptopIt has raised my spirit in recent times to see how Coronation Street has cast, Liam Bairstow, to play Cathy Matthews’ nephew Alex. As far as my limited soap trivia knowledge goes, I believe Liam is the first ever actor with Down’s Syndrome to be cast in a main role on TV (I hope I’m wrong, so please enlighten me).

Sam Hesla from Minneapolis was recently sworn in as a reserve officer and is one of the first reserve officers with Down Syndrome to serve in his country.

There are plenty more examples in recent time of people with additional needs securing employment. With this in mind I thought I share some information on work and its impact on means test entitlements.

To start with most children are never means tested personally until they turn 16-years of age. At this point they can apply for Disability Allowance. To qualify your child must have a permanent physical or intellectual disability that substantially restricted them in undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable for a person of their age.

Parents often assume that their child has to finish school before they apply but this is not the case.

Disability Allowance is a means-tested payment on your child (not on the parents). Any money your child has in their bank accounts, shares, savings or property (other than their family home they live in) will be assessed. If your child inherits money in the future then this too will have an impact on their Disability Allowance.


If your child takes up a full time or part time work then expect your child’s Disability Allowance to be adjusted or even STOPPED. Your child has proven that they can work and your child will find it incredibly difficult to receive this payment again unless they can show a deterioration in their health.

An exception to this rule is if the employment is classified as “rehabilitative work”. You must get permission from the Department of Social Protection before you start this type of work. Your child can earn up to around €120 per week without affecting their Disability Allowance. There is a sliding scale of earning but all earnings over €350 are fully assessed when on “rehabilitative work”.

What is “rehabilitation work”, as far as I can tell this seem to be any type of work once your child’s Doctor deems it good for their mental health.

Warning or not

Rehabilitative work might not impact on your child’s Disability Allowance but it may affect other entitlements such as your child’s medical card. So this has to be weighed up when looking at the huge benefits being part of the workforce has on the overall wellness of the child.


It is a crazy world we live in when savings and income from work are discourage. The Department of Social Protection is very black and white on this issue. You either meet the criteria or you don’t, and if you don’t then expect your child only to receive a proportion or none of the €188 per week they were going to receive.

One last comment

Thankful the world is changing and working side by side with people with additional needs will be the norm and won’t make headline news.

To read more on Liam Bairstow story click here

To read more on Sam Hesla story click here