THOUSANDS of Irish people can now qualify for a €1,000 payment for medically necessary contact lenses every two years from this week.
Employees and the self-employed could previously qualify for the payment every four years.
Grants of up to €1,000 will now be available every two years to cover the cost of a pair of medical lenses, or a payment of €500 for each contact lens.
Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys confirmed that the changes will come into effect immediately under the treatment benefit scheme.
She said: “I am delighted to introduce these changes today, which means people will be able to get state support for the cost of medical contact lenses every two years instead of four.
“Contact lenses can be an expensive expense and this measure is designed to help people who need specialist lenses for medical reasons.
“This is the third positive change that I have introduced as part of the treatment allowance scheme arising from the 2022 budget.
“The settlement I signed today ensures that these people, whether employed or self-employed, receive the same treatment as those who could use the treatment benefit scheme to receive assistance for the cost of a pair glasses.
“I will continue to consider what other changes we can make to this important program so that more of our citizens can benefit from it.”
In May, the Minister confirmed that thousands of Irish people would benefit from a new payment of €500 for the cost of hairpieces, wigs or hair replacement.
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The grant – which will benefit approximately 2,000 people in the first year – will support women or men who experience hair loss due to illness.
The grant covers hair loss resulting from cancer and forms of alopecia.
The scheme works similarly to the dental scheme, with people using their PPS number to qualify for the subsidy when buying a wig.
And Minister Humphreys also previously announced measures to allow people aged 25 to 28 to work only nine months to qualify for dental, optical and hearing treatments.
The treatment benefit scheme is available to employees, self-employed and retirees with the required PRSI social insurance contributions.
Adult dependents may also be eligible, nearly 2.25 million people in total.
To be eligible for treatment allowance, a person must have paid Class A, E, P, H or S PRSI contributions.
Those under 21 and 21 to 28 must have made 39 contributions, while those aged 29 to 65 must have made 260 contributions but different rules may apply for those over 60 and over 65 years.
The Treatment Benefit Program provides full or partial funding for certain dental, optical, hearing treatments, as well as medical devices such as hearing aids and medical contact lenses, as well as the subsidy for the cost of a hairpiece, a wig or hair replacement announced earlier this year. .