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Access to Treatment Benefit Scheme made easier for 80,000 25 to 28-year-olds – Higgins

Deputy Emer Higgins, Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid-West, has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys, that people aged 25-28 will now only need to work for 9 months to avail of dental, optical and aural treatments under the Treatment Benefit Scheme.

Deputy Higgins said, "Previously, the scheme only allowed people who made 260 PRSI contributions to receive state support for the range of treatments.

"I welcome Minister Humphreys’ announcement that the threshold will be reduced to nine months of employment for 25 to 28-year-olds, meaning they need 39 PRSI contributions as opposed to 260, which is a really positive development for young people in the local community.

"I know from engaging with young people in my constituency that many wanted to avail of dental, optical, and aural treatments but simply couldn't afford it, and thankfully, now more young people will qualify for the Treatment Benefit Scheme,” added Deputy Higgins.

Minister Humphreys said, "I am delighted to extend the scheme to benefit more workers, particularly our younger cohort, and I would urge all who have an entitlement to make sure they get the full benefit from their PRSI contributions.

"Previously, a young worker in this cohort would have to clock up PRSI contributions over a five-year period, that's now reduced to nine months – and demonstrates our desire to support our young professionals when it comes to dental, optical or aural treatment."

The Scheme also provides dental, optical, and aural services to insured employees, the self-employed and retired people.

People who qualify can avail of free and part-funded treatments, along with their dependent spouse, civil partner, or co-habitant.

Deputy Higgins said, “Supports include a free annual dental check-up and €42 towards a scale and polish or periodontal treatment once a year as well as a free eyesight test every two years and a grant towards glasses or contact lenses.

“The scheme also provides a grant of €1,000 for hearing aids every four years and a new €500 grant towards the cost of a hairpiece, wig or hair replacement for those suffering hairloss due to illness.

"The expansion of the treatment benefit scheme has greatly increased the number of people who can get access to affordable, high-quality treatments when they need it the most and I hope all young people will avail of their new entitlements now that the necessary number of PRSI contribution for this age group has been reduced," concluded Deputy Higgins.

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