The Government and relevant departments must speed up the review of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme as genuine applicants are missing out on its benefits, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Reacting to the news that the members of the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal resigned, the Roscommon-Galway representative agreed with their views that the criteria for the scheme was too restrictive.

Commenting further on the matter, Fitzmaurice said: “As it stands, an applicant must meet certain criteria to obtain the primary medical certificate in order to proceed with the scheme. It states that the applicant must be severely and permanently disabled.

“This criteria includes being without, or almost without, the use of one or both of their legs; being without the, or almost without, the use of both hands or arms; and if the applicant has the medical condition dwarfism and has difficulty using their lower limbs.

“It has emerged this week that the chair of the board of appeals and the other board members submitted their resignations to the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, last October.

“These is a hugely important scheme which helps people in need avail of relief on VRT and VAT when it comes to buying an adapted vehicle.

“In my office, I have helped genuine applicants apply for the scheme and have seen the benefit it can have on their lives and the lives of their family or carers.

“On the other hand, I have also witnessed the frustration and disappointment in people deserving of the benefits when they have been rejected from the scheme due to the overly strict criteria.

“Many of these applicants are elderly, and by receiving assistance to purchase an adapted vehicle – for either a passenger or driver – they can carry on living independently or the difficulty of getting a passenger in and out of the car comfortably would not be so daunting.

“It was suggested in media reports that, on average, less than 5% of appeals for certs are unsuccessful and that there were almost 400 cases awaiting an appeal date.

“While Minister Donohoe has acknowledged that the scheme will be reviewed by a working group, it must be done speedily and the criteria must be overhauled to allow genuine applicants access to the benefits,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

For further information contact Michael Fitzmaurice at 086-1914565

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