The current disability grant managed by the Ministry of Social Welfare will be reformed into a scheme that provides a regular transfer to all poor and vulnerable citizens of Bangladesh with a severe disability. The current disability grant reaches 290,000 people. It is estimated, however, that there are 1.15 million people of working age with a severe disability. Under the income eligibility criteria, some 50 percent of this population will be eligible. So a significant expansion of the current scheme is envisaged, while it will be directed at those with a severe disability only. The scheme will be accessible by all those poor and vulnerable population with a severe disability aged 19-59 years and, at 60 years, they will transition to the Citizens’ Pension.
The Government will design robust measures for identifying severe disability and will establish an appeals mechanism for those who feel that they have been unfairly excluded. As the scheme is revised, all current recipients of the disability grant will be screened to ensure that they comply with the new criteria. A means test will also be developed. However, as the Disability Benefit is an individual benefit, only the income of the person with a disability will be assessed, rather than the income of the household.
The value of the Disability Benefit transfer will be aligned with that of the Citizens’ Pension and, therefore, will commence at Tk.800 per month. In the longer term, the level of the transfer will be reviewed to assess whether a higher transfer is viable. The introduction of the reformed Disability Benefit will mark a significant change in the lives of the disabled citizens who are poor. They will be better able to enter the labour market and access credit so that they can invest in small businesses. The Government will complement the Disability Benefit by providing additional support to recipients by ensuring access to vocational education and small business schemes and eliminating discrimination in the labour market.
The Ministry of Social Development will prepare a detailed implementation plan for the Child and Adult Disability Benefits and submit to the Cabinet for approval by December 2014. Government will start implementation in July 2015.