Assessment of need for people with disabilities


An Assessment of Need is an assessment carried out by the HSE for children or young people with a disability. The assessment identifies your child's health needs and what health services are needed to meet your child’s needs.

You don’t have to get an Assessment of Need to access HSE services. You can apply directly to services outside of the Assessment of Need process.

The Assessment of Need is set out in the Disability Act 2005.

This page will explain who can apply for an assessment, how to apply for an assessment, what happens after the assessment is complete and how to complain or appeal if you are unhappy with your assessment report, Service Statement or provision of services.

Who can apply for an assessment?

If your child has a disability or you think they may have a disability, you can apply for an Assessment of Need.

The child or young person must be born on or after 1 June 2002.

An application can be made by a:

  • Parent
  • Legal guardian
  • Personal advocate

If you are aged over 16, you can apply for your own Assessment of Need.

Can I re-apply if my application was refused?

If your application was refused, you can ask for a new assessment if any of the following apply:

  • There has been a change in circumstances
  • Further information is available
  • You believe there was a factual mistake in the assessment report

How do I apply for an assessment?

Your application must be in writing. You can download the Assessment of Need application form (pdf) online and post it to your local HSE Assessment Officer.

You can also call your Local Health Office or the HSE information line on 1800 700 700 to get a copy of the application form

If you need help completing the application form, contact your local HSE Assessment Officer. They will help you to fill in the application form and give you whatever information you need.

What happens after I send in the application?

After you send in your application, you will get a letter from the HSE confirming they have received your application and the date when the assessment will start. The HSE must send you this letter within 14 days of your application.

Once the HSE receives your application in writing, they must start the assessment within 3 months and must finish the assessment within a further 3 months. An Assessment of Need starts when the Assessment Officer arranges the referral to the assessors, if needed.

In exceptional circumstances, the assessment may take longer than 3 months. If there is a delay in completing the assessment, you must be told the reason and given a timescale for when it will be completed.

What does the Assessment Officer do?

The Assessment Officer arranges for assessments to be carried out.

They will first carry out an initial review of your application. They will then contact you for more information that will help to show the nature and difficulty of your child’s disability.

The Assessment Officer must then decide if an applicant is eligible for an Assessment of Need within the terms of the Disability Act.

If your child is eligible for an Assessment of Need, they will refer your child to HSE employees or other experienced professionals, known as assessors, to carry out the assessment.

What do the assessors do?

The assessors decide what health needs arise from your child's disability and what services are needed to meet those needs. The assessors do not give a diagnosis.

The assessment must be carried out in accordance with the standards for the Assessment of Need (pdf). Parents and legal guardians will be encouraged to take part in their child’s assessment.

When the Assessment of Need is complete, the Assessment Officer writes an assessment report.

If your child is deemed to have a disability, the assessment report will be given to a Liaison Officer. The Liaison Officer will use the report to draw up a Service Statement (See ‘What is a Service Statement’ below)

If your child is not deemed to have a disability, you will still get an assessment report. You will not get a Service Statement.

What is an assessment report?

The assessment report provides you with information on the health needs of your child. The report also lists the services your child needs.

If the report states your child has a disability, the following is included:

  • A statement of the nature and extent of the disability
  • A statement of the health and education needs arising from the disability
  • A statement of the appropriate services to meet those needs
  • A statement of the period within which a review of the assessment should be carried out (this must be no later than a year from the date the assessment report is issued)

What is a service statement?

You will get a Service Statement if your child is deemed to have a disability. A Service Statement lists the services the HSE proposes to provide to meet your child’s needs.

It is prepared by a Liaison Officer and must be completed within one month of the assessment report being completed.

When preparing the Service Statement, the Liaison Officer considers both:

  • The costs and availability of services
  • The timescale for delivery of services

By law, the HSE must provide the services named in the Service Statement. The Service Statement must be clear and easily understood.

Who is entitled to services?

By law, the child or young person must have a ‘substantial restriction’ to be entitled to services following an Assessment of Need.

A substantial restriction means that the child or young person has a significant difficulty with communication, learning or mobility or significantly disordered cognitive processes.

The child or young person must also:

  • Have a restriction that is permanent (or likely to be permanent)
  • Need services to be provided continually

If the applicant is a child, there must be a need for services early in life to help their disability.

Who arranges delivery of health services?

After the Service Statement is complete, the Liaison Officer arranges the delivery of services with the different service providers.

If needs other than health (for example, housing or transport) are identified, the Assessment Officer can refer the matter to the relevant public body such as the local housing authority or public transport service.

Complaints and appeals

You can make a complaint to the HSE under the Disability Act 2005 if any of the following apply:

  • Your child is found not to have a disability and you do not agree
  • The assessment is not done in line with the agreed standards (pdf)
  • An assessment is not started and completed on time
  • You believe that the Service Statement is incorrect
  • The services in the Service Statement are not being delivered

The complaint must be made within 3 months of when you became aware of the cause of the complaint.

The HSE will arrange for your case to be reviewed.

How do I complain?

If you would like to make a complaint you can contact the Disability Complaints Officer by submitting a complaint form. You can get a complaint form from your Assessment Officer, Liaison Officer or directly from the Disability Complaints Officer.

You can contact the Disability Complaints Officer by calling 045 880 400 or by e-mailing

How do I appeal?

If the HSE does not act on the recommendations of the Disability Complaints Officer, you can appeal to the Disability Appeals Officer or you can go to the Circuit Court to seek an enforcement order.

For more information about making an appeal, you can:

Further information

More information about the Assessment of Need is available on the HSE website.

You can read the Standards for the Assessment of Need (pdf).

Each Local Health Office has an Assessment Officer that can help you with your application. You can contact your Local Health Office by:

Page edited: 10 February 2023