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Finance | Addressing the issue regarding primary medical certificates

* To ask the Minister for Finance when the issue regarding primary medical certificates will be resolved in order to facilitate those whose cases are in abeyance for some time in the first instance and to meet the requirements of persons with disabilities who have mobility problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Bernard J. Durkan T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 18 January, 2023.


The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme provides relief from Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT on an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain charitable organisations. In order to qualify for relief, the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled, and satisfy at least one of the six medical criteria.

It is expected that the Board will be established shortly. The background is that following the resignation of all members of the previous Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, effective from 30th November 2021, two Expression of Interest campaigns have been held, seeking suitable candidates for the Board. The Department of Health has led on all actions and tasks with respect to the Expression of Interest Campaigns. Department of Finance officials have provided support to the Department of Health in this matter.

The first campaign closed on 29th April. As there were insufficient suitable candidates arising from the first campaign, a second round was issued with a closing date of 5th July 2022. From these, three suitable candidates have successfully completed Garda vetting. Five members are legislatively required for a functional Board with a quorum of three needed for any appeal hearing. Two other candidates have very recently been deemed suitable and are in the process of being Garda vetted. All five candidates have been nominated by the Minister of Health pending successful completion of Garda vetting.

Once Garda vetting is completed for the two aforementioned candidates, I will then be in a position to appoint them to the Board. I am hopeful that the new Board will be up and running in the next few weeks, and once operational, it will consider the best way of ensuring outstanding appeals are addressed as quickly as possible. 

As of 31st December 2022, there are currently 759 people awaiting an appeal hearing with 382 of those dating back to 2021 and the remaining 377 people applying for an appeal in 2022. The below table outlines the number of appeals heard by the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal and of those, that were successful and unsuccessful since 2018.

 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 
New appeals 674684204382377
Number of Appeals   Assessed 386424116148n/a
Number of   Successful Appeals 209412n/a
Number of   Unsuccessful Appeals 366415112136n/a

*260 appeals outstanding at 01/2017
**Appeal hearings were lower than usual for 2020 due to both public health considerations and the Supreme Court Case in June 2020. Appeal hearings resumed in early 2021 following an amendment to the Finance Bill to provide for the existing medical criteria in primary legislation which, following the approval of the Finance Act 2020, allowed assessments to recommence.
***2021 appeal hearings have also been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Requests for appeal hearings can be sent to the DDMBA secretary in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH). The NRH provides clinical facilities and staffing (including a secretary) to facilitate the DDMBA in carrying out its remit, and costs incurred are reimbursed to the NRH annually by DFIN. It should be noted that there is no legal basis for the secretary of the Disabled Drivers Medical Board, but in the absence of such a role, the scheme could not operate effectively.  

Appeal hearing dates for the outstanding appeals will be issued once the new Board is in place. In this regard, it should be noted that the appeals that will be heard by the Board can only be assessed against the medical criteria contained in the Finance Act 2020.

Assessments for the primary medical certificate, by the HSE, are continuing to take place. Applicants deemed not to have met one of the six eligibility criteria required for a PMC can request another PMC assessment six months after an unsuccessful PMC assessment.

Finally, as the Deputy is aware, my predecessor Minister Donohoe committed to a comprehensive review of the DDS under the auspices of a broader review of mobility supports. In order to achieve this objective, Minister O’Gorman agreed in September 2021 that the DDS review should be incorporated into the work of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) Transport Working Group (TWG). 

The Working Group, under the Chairpersonship of Minister of State Anne Rabbitte, held a number of meetings across 2022. A draft report was considered at its final meeting on 8th December 2022, and is currently being finalised. It is expected that it will be published soon. 




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