Disability/Disability. Ombudsman sends recommendation to the Government after finding serious problems in access to Social Allowance for Inclusion

The Ombudsman, Maria Lúcia Amaral, sent a recommendation to the Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security following the receipt, in the last two years, of more than two and a half hundred complaints on issues related to attribution of the Social Inclusion Benefit (PSI).

Created by Decree-Law no. 126-A/2017, of 6 October, the PSI would progressively aggregate a set of scattered benefits into a single benefit for situations of disability and/or incapacity, and would be composed of three components: the "base", which came into force on 1 October 2017; the "supplement", which came into force one year later, although the implementing rules only became available in March 2019; and the "top-up", for which the date for its introduction is not yet known.

However, the delay in regulating the "complement", combined with dysfunctionality in some services of the Institute of Social Security and considerable delays in issuing Multipurpose Disability Medical Certificates (AMIM) – which also led to a recommendation being sent by the Ombudsman to the Minister of Health – had very negative repercussions on access to any of the PSI components (base or complement), since the benefit, according to the law currently in force, is only "due from the month of delivery of the certification document" (AMIM), greatly conditioning the access of the applicants, in due time, to the PSI complement.

On the other hand, while it is certain that the legislator, in September 2019, allowed the recognition of the right to PSI to persons who, having acquired disability or incapacity before the age of 55, only applied for the respective certification (AMIM) at a later date, it is no less certain that, to date, such right remains unenforceable due to the lack of the respective regulation.

Finally, the repeal of the disability social pension scheme by the law establishing the PSI has meant a substantial reduction in social protection for those who have acquired or developed – or will acquire or develop – a disability after the age of 55, creating an age discrimination without any grounds. In the current legislative framework, these people – equally disabled/incapacitated – can only benefit from the social insertion income (RSI), and are therefore obliged to formally and expressly undertake to enter into an insertion contract and be subject to the verification of a more demanding condition of resources than that in force for access to the basic component of PSI.

In summary, it was recommended:

a) Clarification of article 23 of Decree-Law no. 126-A/2017, modifying, namely, the provisions of numbers 5 and 6 in order to ensure the payment of the instalment from the month of submission of the application, provided that AMIM certifies the degree of devaluation legally required for the purpose of granting the instalment;

b) Publication of the regulatory diploma that allows the right to PSI to be made viable for people who, having acquired disability or incapacity before the age of 55, only applied for the respective certification (AMIM) at a later date;

c) To consider a legislative measure to ensure, within the framework of the PSI, the protection of people who have acquired (laughed) or develop (were) a disability after the age of 55;

(d) to pay special attention to the regulation of the "top-up" component of the ISP and to prevent possible computer constraints so that it can be applied immediately when it enters into force;

e) In articulation with the Directive Council of the Institute of Social Security, IP, to take into account the situation of delays in the attribution of the PSI by district centres, namely in those with the greatest backlog (cases of Porto, Braga, Aveiro and Lisbon).

To read the full recommendation click here [in Portuguese only].