Pensioners renting rooms to students shouldn’t have to worry about medical cards

Limerick Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne

PENSIONERS interested in renting rooms to students should not be discouraged by the possibility of losing their medical card, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Maria Byrne is working with Higher Education Minister Simon Harris to examine the possibility of including a provision under the rent-a-room scheme for pensioners who wish to retain their medical card.

“The anecdotal evidence I am receiving from pensioners is that some who wish to rent a room are discouraged from doing so due to potentially going above the medical card income threshold,” she said.

“Students and pensioners would jointly benefit from an income disregard whereby a certain amount of income from a particular source, the rent a room scheme in this case, is not considered. Ultimately, this would avoid interference with the medical card income threshold.”

The weekly gross medical card income threshold was increased in 2020 for those aged 70 and over and is currently €550 per week for a single person and €1,050 for a couple.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

“While this was a positive development in relation to healthcare for the elderly, we don’t want a situation where pensioners feel impeded from renting out a room during the current student housing crisis.

“A flexible approach to student housing is exactly what we need. We must ensure that pensioners willing to rent a room are not met with obstacles”.

“It is imperative that we resolve this issue as soon as possible and remove what could potentially be an obstacle to increasing accommodation for students,” Senator Byrne concluded.