Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

58.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will again review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who was refused unemployment benefit on tenuous grounds; and if she will allow a further appeal with an oral hearing to determine this very deserving case of a person from whom unemployment benefit has been withheld on the basis that she was not available for work, despite the fact that she was available for work and that she was made redundant from her job, along with 180 other employees.

The employment of the person concerned was terminated on 23 October 1981. She immediately claimed disability benefit for the period 24 October 1981 to 20 May 1982 and, subsequently, maternity benefit for the period 7 March 1983 to 28 May 1983.

Regulations provide that a late claim to unemployment benefit may be admitted retrospectively only if good cause for the delay is shown by the claimant.

The person concerned did not claim unemployment benefit until 30 April 1985. Her claim was admitted from that date, but she did not qualify for payment as she did not satisfy the contribution condition of having 26 contributions paid or credited at the appropriate rate during the contribution year 1983-1984 which governed her claim. She did not appeal against this decision.

She is currently signing the unemployed register and is being allowed a credited contribution in respect of each week of proved unemployment. The conditions for the award of such contributions are the same as for payment of unemployment benefit — namely, that she must be capable of, available for and genuinely seeking work. At no stage has she been disallowed as not being available for employment and the question of an appeal against such a decision does not, therefore, arise.

She also applied to be allowed sign the unemployed register retrospectively. She was not allowed to do so, however, as it was considered that she had not shown good cause for failing to claim unemployment benefit earlier than she did.

Provided the person concerned continues to sign the unemployed register, her entitlement to unemployment benefit will be reviewed from 5 January 1987 when a new benefit year begins.

59.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare when an oral hearing will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

The person concerned was paid disability benefit to 5 September 1986 after which date payment was disallowed following examination by a medical referee who expressed the opinion that he was capable of work. He appealed against the disallowance of benefit and was examined by a different medical referee on 7 November 1986 who also expressed the opinion that he was capable of work.

His appeal has been referred to an appeals officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing of his claim as soon as possible.

60.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will indicate when payment of unemployment assistance from date of application, 11 September 1986, will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will take urgent steps to expedite payment of disability benefit from the 20 November 1986, as the unfortunate applicant has no income from any source and did, in fact, reside alone from 18 September 1986.

The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 20 November 1986. He has submitted only one medical certificate indicating that he was incapable of work. Further medical evidence is necessary to establish the duration of incapacity before any payment can be made.

Medical evidence of incapacity should be submitted on a regular weekly basis for as long as the person concerned remains ill and incapable of work.

61.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford has not yet received his retirement pension as he applied three months ago.

The person concerned submitted a claim for old age contributory pension on 22 September 1986. He reached old age contributory pension age of 66 on 7 October 1986.

One of the qualifying conditions for receipt of an old age contributory pension under the Social Welfare Acts requires a person to have a yearly average of at least 20 reckonable contributions over the period from the beginning of the 1953 contribution year or from the year of entry into insurance, whichever is the later, to the end of the last complete contribution year before reaching pension age. The Department's records show that the person concerned had a total of 361 reckonable contributions in the relevant period which, based on his entry into Irish insurance, is from January 1962 to 5 April 1986. This is equal to a yearly average of only 15 which is not sufficient to qualify for an old age contributory pension under the Social Welfare Acts.

Where a person has been employed in another EC country his insurance in that country may be combined with his Irish record. He may then qualify for apro-rata old age contributory pension if the combined total would suffice to give him the required yearly average of at least 20. The person concerned was employed in Great Britain and details of his British insurance record are awaited from the Department of Health and Social Security, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His entitlement to a pro-rata pension will be determined when those details are received.

62.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a grant will be paid to the Drogheda Homeless Aid Group, St. Josephs, North Strand, Drogheda; if she is aware that this committee have housed 14 men who are homeless, all from voluntary means; if she is aware that they bought the buildings and carried out reconstruction work out of money raised by them; the reason no allocation has been made to them from grants to voluntary bodies in the social services area as applied for in 1985 and if she will make a statement on the matter.

The only scheme under which grants are paid to voluntary organisations by my Department is the scheme of grants to such organisations in the social services area for once-off projects. An application form for a grant under the 1985 scheme issued to the project concerned but it was not returned to the Department. No application was received from the project under the 1986 scheme of grants, which have all been allocated at this stage.

63.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare when the correct social welfare payments will be made with arrears to persons (details supplied) in County Louth; and the correct weekly payments due.

The person concerned was in receipt of disability benefit at the personal rate of £41.10 with an allowance of £26.60 in respect of an adult dependant and an allowance of £28.60 in respect of three child dependants.

His spouse is currently in receipt of disability benefit and is no longer regarded as an adult dependant. Consequently since 17 November 1986, he is entitled to payment of disability benefit at the maximum personal rate of £41.10, with an allowance in respect of three child dependants at half rate.

A temporary payment of £10 per week is issued to the person concerned to compensate him for the loss of the adult dependant allowance. This amount will be increased to £20 weekly with effect from 17 November 1986 and will continue for the duration of his claim or for 52 weeks, whichever is the lesser.

His spouse claimed disability benefit from 13 December 1976 and was in receipt of payment at the personal rate of £41.10. She has an equal right to claim an increase for the child dependants allowance from 17 November 1986. However no increase was authorised because the form required to establish her status with regard to the new legislation was not received by the Department. The matter has now been rectified and her claim has been authorised at the weekly rate of £55.40, the maximum personal rate plus half the allowance in respect of three children.

A cheque has been issued to her in respect of all arrears payable from 17 November 1986 to 6 December 1986. All benefit payable has been issued on both claims.

64.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare when the correct disability benefit will be made to a person (details supplied) in Conty Louth; when arrears due will be paid; and the correct payments due.

The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 20 December 1983, and was paid at the weekly rate appropriate to a man with an adult and two child dependants.

As a result of the EC Directive, on equality of treatment, the Social Welfare (No. 2) Act 1985 was passed, giving men and women the same entitlement when claiming social welfare benefits.

The first phase was introduced in May 1986. This provided that married women were entitled to the same personal rate as other claimants. The second phase was implemented on 17 November 1986. From this date men and women have similar entitlement when claiming increases of benefit in respect of an adult and/or child dependants.

In the case of the person concerned, this has meant that from 17 November 1986, he is no longer entitled to an increase of benefit in respect of his wife, as she is in receipt of disability benefit in her own right. He is entitled to half the rate payable in respect of his two children.

His weekly rate of benefit was, therefore, reduced to £51.05 per week, with effect from 17 November 1986. However, in order to avoid hardship a special temporary payment of £10.00 per week, has also been issued. A further payment of £10.00 per week will also be made shortly to the person concerned, under the further alleviating measure recently announced.

The wife of the person concerned was in receipt of disability benefit at the weekly rate of £41.10 up to 15 November 1986. From 17 November 1986, she has also been paid half the rate payable in respect of her two children. This has increased her weekly rate of benefit to £51.05.

65.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will grant approval for a free telephone allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon.

To qualify for a free telephone rental allowance, a person in receipt of a qualifying payment must be living alone or only with children under 15 years of age or other persons who are so permanently incapacitated as to be unable to summon aid in an emergency.

The person concerned applied for the allowance in October 1985. At that time he was residing with his sister who was not, from the information furnished, permanently incapacitated. His application was therefore rejected and he was notified accordingly.

If the person concerned feels that he now satisifies the conditions of the scheme, it is open to him to reapply for the allowance. Application forms for the allowance are available at all post offices.

66.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare when disability benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Carlow.

The person concern was paid disability benefit to 27 August 1986 after which date payment was disallowed following examination by a medical referee who expressed the opinion that he was capable of work. He appealed against the disallowance of benefit and was examined by a different medical referee on 20 October 1986 who also expressed the opinion that he was capable of work.

His appeal has been referred to an appeals officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing of his claim as soon as possible.

67.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will expedite an application for an invalidity pension for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 who is waiting to have both hips replaced and suffers from other illnesses, and who needs to use public transport because of her condition; and in view of the free travel entitlement for invalidity pension holders, if she will grant the pension as a matter of urgency.

Invalidity pension is payable to insured persons who satisfy the contribution conditions and who are permanently incapable of work.

One of the contribution conditions which must be satisfied is that the claimant must have not less than 156 contribution weeks of insurable employment for which the appropriate contributions have been paid. According to the Department's records the person concerned entered into insurable employment on 23 October 1950 and has a total of 149 such weeks registered in respect of her. The deciding officer has, accordingly, decided that she is not entitled to invalidity pension.

68.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will award a disability pension to a person (details supplied) in Dublin who is critically ill with asbestosis obtained from his employment; and if she will ensure that the application which is being considered by her Department is favourably replied to now.

Invalidity pension is payable to insured persons who satisfy the contribution conditions and who are permanently incapable of work.

Arrangements are being made to have the person concerned examined by a medical referee on 18 December 1986. His entitlement to invalidity pension will be reviewed in the light of the report of this examination.