The Central Statistics Office has today (Wednesday, February 1st) released the latest data from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2015.
The SILC is the national measure of income, poverty and living conditions in Ireland.
Statistics are released every year which allows for the tracking of trends between years.
Data is disaggregated (meaning it's broken down in component parts or smaller units of data) by different socio-economic characteristics so a comparison can be made across different groups in society.
The SILC allows us to compare income and living conditions for those out of work due to illness or disability with the population as a whole.
According to the SILC, incomes increased between 2014 and 2015 and income inequality fell among most socio-economic groups.
However, analysis of the disaggregated data shows that incomes decreased for those out of work due to illness or disability and income inequality in fact increased among this group.
Poverty and deprivation
Among the general population, there was no significant change in the number of people at risk of poverty or living in consistent poverty between 2014 and 2015.
However, for people out of work due to disability, poverty and deprivation rates increased during the same time period.
Among people with disabilities, 34.8% are at risk of poverty (an increase from 25.2% in 2014). This is more than double that of the population as a whole.
While the deprivation rate fell to 25.5% among the general population, it rose from 51.3% to 53.2% for people with disabilities.
Consistent poverty rose from 14.4% to 22.4% among those with disabilities, compared to 8.7% among the general population.
As shocking at these figures are, they are likely to be an underestimation of the poverty that people with disabilities experience.
Standard measurements of poverty based on income underestimate poverty among people with disabilities since for a given income level, people with disabilities have additional costs not taken into account.
These costs include specialist disability aids, home adaptations and therapeutic supports, higher energy costs or an increased need for taxis where accessible public transport is not available.
The findings demonstrate the real need to ensure that people with disabilities have sufficient economic resources to sustain a decent standard of living.