Law Centre NI has welcomed the commitment by Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, to bring forward legislation on reform to terminal illness rules before the next Northern Ireland Assembly elections in May 2022.
Currently special provisions within the rules mean that if you are living with a terminal illness and your doctor or medical professional says that you might have less than six months to live, you may have your benefits fast-tracked. The change which the Minister proposes to the legislation will extend the current criterion from six months to 12 months.
In answer to a question in the Northern Ireland Assembly in September, Minister Hargey said that she expected legislation which would extend the timeframe to be introduced this month.
The Minister has also committed to looking at further options for reform in the future including review of the definition of terminal illness and looking at a clinical model in the time ahead.
The urgency for this reform to terminal illness rules is understood by everyone. A terminal illness diagnosis devastates people’s lives and new legislation will make a huge difference.
We would like to thank all of those terminally ill people who have been brave enough to share their experience of the benefits system, particularly our client, Lorraine Cox, who has had the courage and determination to step forward during a difficult period in her life to ensure that no one else has to go through a similar experience.