Disability and the Cost of Living

The cost of living for people with disabilities is generally higher than for the rest of the community – higher medical costs, paying for disability aids and home adaptations, the cost of transport, help with care and higher costs on day to day living. So the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities in 1996 recommended a Cost of Disability Payment.

The National Disability Authority (NDA) commissioned research from economic consultants Indecon on how much extra it costs to live when you have a disability. And in a commentary on that research, the National Disability Authority have argued that correcting for the higher cost of living is a basic equality issue, and that a Cost of Disability Payment should be introduced. To move the issue on, the NDA has recommended that existing supports to people with disabilities should be rationalised, and that the State needs to take clear decisions about which of these extra costs are to be met through services and which through cash support.

The Indecon research and the NDA’s commentary on it are published together.

The Indecon report used a number of methods to establish the cost of disability

  • A review of studies in Ireland and abroad.
  • An examination of the differences in spending patterns of households with and without disabled members, using the Household Budget Survey
  • Use of various econometric techniques to calculate how much extra income disabled households would need to reach the standard of living of other households at similar incomes
  • A survey of 248 people in Ireland with a disability to establish what extra costs they faced because of their disability
  • Pricing different goods and services needed by people with a disability and drawing up sample budgets

Because of gaps in our data on disability, and the wide variation in the needs of different individuals, the Indecon team could not establish a definitive figure of the average cost of disability. However, their work showed that people in Ireland face extra costs of living related todisability over and above those which are currently met by state services or supports, for example extra costs for heating or transport. And for people with a high level of disability, the lowest figure the international studies put on their extra cost of living was €40 a week.

Printed and audio versions of the NDA commentary and a summary of the Indecon report are available from Emma Doyle in the NDA, edoyle@nda.ie tel (01) 6080400.

The NDAcommentary and the full technical Indecon report are also available from the NDA and on the web by following the links below.

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Page last updated: 05/05/2011