Disability Law: Legal Rights, Assessment of Needs and Service Statements

Disability Law and Assessment of Needs

If either you, your child or someone close to you is living with a disability, you may be able to apply to the Health Service Executive directly for an assessment of needs and service statement. The purpose of the assessment of needs and service statement is to assist the Health Service Executive in determining the health and educational needs (if any) occasioned by the disability. Additionally the assessment of needs should determine The Health or Education Services required to meet those needs occasioned by the disability. The legislation that governs this statutory entitlement to an assessment of needs and service statement is contained in the provisions of the Disability Act 2005 and associated legislation. A person may apply for an assessment of needs and service statement in the following circumstances: –

  • A person may apply directly to the HSE for an assessment of needs where that person has formed an opinion that he or she may have a disability
  • In circumstances where by reason of the nature of a person’s disability or age that a person is likely to be unable to form such an opinion that they may have a disability such as a child, then in those circumstances, that person’s parent, guardian or legal representative may apply for an Assessment of Needs on that person’s behalf.

Assessment Process, Time Frames and Assessment of Needs Report

There is a statutory obligation upon the Health Service Executive to begin the assessment process within three months from receipt of an application for an Assessment of Needs. The initial assessment process will determine the following: –

  • An assessment will be carried out to determine the health and educational needs (if any) occasioned by the disability and
  • An assessment will also be carried out to determine The Health or Education Services required to meet those needs occasioned by the disability.

The Assessment of Needs Report will be prepared following an assessment made by what are described as assessment officers. The legislation provides for a period of within 6 months to prepare the Assessment of Needs Report (other than in exceptional circumstances). The Health Service Executive is required to ensure that the report includes the following information: –

  • Whether the application has a disability,
  • Where it has been determined during the assessment process that the applicant has a disability, then the report will include a statement of the nature and extent of the disability,
  • a statement of the health and education needs (if any) occasioned to the person by the disability,
  • a statement of the services considered appropriate to meet the needs of the applicant and the period of time ideally required by the person or persons for the provision of those services and the order of such provision,
  • a statement of the period within which a review of the assessment should be carried out

Following the preparation of the Assessment of Needs report and in circumstances where a determination has been made that the applicant has a disability, then the report will be furnished to a Liaison Officer who will prepare a Service Statement which will specify the health services or education services or both which will be provided to the applicant by or on behalf of the Executive or an education service provider, as appropriate, and the period of time within which such services will be provided. The Liaison Officer will be required to provide a Service Statement within one month following receipt of the completed Assessment of Needs Report.

Complaints Mechanisms and Enforcement

If a person is not satisfied with either the assessment process or the service statement provided, they may make a complaint to the Health Service Executive. There are many grounds upon which an applicant may make a complaint including but not limited to where a determination has been made by an assessment officer that the applicant does not have a disability or where the Assessment of Needs was not carried out without undue delay which is a requirement under the Disability Act 2005. Furthermore, where services are identified in a Service Statement which are not provided, then in those circumstances enforcement and redress may also be an option.

Should you wish to discuss any of the above matters, please get in touch by contacting us at (01) 833 8147 or alternatively you can email us at anthony@collierlaw.ie. Telephone and video consultations are available by appointment. Should you wish to access further information, please refer to the following link: –

https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/4/disability/disability-assessment/.