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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 29 Apr 1969

Vol. 240 No. 1

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Disability and Unemployment Benefit.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he is aware that a person (name supplied) in County Donegal furnished medical certificates of unfitness for work from the 18th November, 1968 to the 7th March, 1969; that he has not been paid sickness benefit; that he has proved unemployment from the 7th March, 1969 to date; and that he has not been paid unemployment benefit; and, if so, if he will ensure that this workman will be paid the appropriate amount due to him forthwith.

The claim for disability benefit by the insured person referred to was disallowed on the ground that he was not incapable of work. He was examined on two separate occasions by medical referees each of whom expressed the opinion that he was capable of work. He appealed against this decision and an oral hearing of the appeal has been arranged for 6th May, 1969.

A decision on his claim for unemployment benefit was unfortunately delayed due to a misunderstanding which arose in regard to the question of his capacity for work. The claim has now been allowed and the benefit due has been paid.

Is the Minister aware that where people transfer from disability benefit to unemployment benefit there is considerable delay in payment? I inquired about one such case from the Minister's Department today and I was informed that it was necessary to prove whether or not the person was looking for work, after four weeks in which he, his wife and five children received absolutely no benefit from anybody.

The question relates to one specific case.

If a man spends four weeks proving that he is not fit to work and immediately starts proving that he is fit to work, these are two different types of claim. It is not just as simple as that.

Surely the Minister is aware——

Question No. 73.

Please, a Cheann Comhairle, would you allow me to ask a supplementary question?

The Deputy is out of order in asking the supplementary question.

I am not out of order. I am asking whether a particular case——

I am informing Deputy Tully that this question relates to one specific case on which the Minister has given an answer. The Deputy may not raise the general question of such cases on this question.

I am raising the question of the particular case that Deputy O'Donnell inquired about. With your permission I want to ask a further supplementary question on that case.

The Deputy did not say he was doing so.

You did not give me an opportunity, with due respect. The question I want to ask is this: if a man is ill and has been declared by the officials of the Department as fit for work, on what does the Minister think he and his family should live—in the intervening period? Is he not right to try to prove that he is unemployed, in view of the Minister's officials saying he is not ill? Surely it is self-evident that the man must be unemployed if he was not in over a period, and why is he not paid the benefit?

There is an immediate change when a man seeks to prove that he is disabled and, irrespective of what the medical referees on either side may say—very often they differ—let us say he sets out to prove——

Because the poor man is not drawing any money.

The change over does not take place overnight. It must be gradual.

If the man is ill until the 14th March and the Department officials say he is no longer ill after 14th March, surely it stands to reason that if he is not working he is unemployed for the rest of the period. It is a question of those with a full belly not worrying about those with an empty one.

It is no such thing.