I propose to take Questions Nos. 4, 10, 30 and 31 together. I am not aware that there have been any particular problems in relation to delays in the processing of disability benefit claims from Wexford or from any other part of the country.
The position generally in relation to disability benefit is that payments are being issued promptly where the claim is made correctly and the claimant is qualified on his or her insurance record. There have been no measurable delays due to computer faults and, in fact, the Department have comprehensive fallback arrangements in the unlikely event of a computer failure.
The issue of payment depends largely on the receipt of medical evidence of incapacity and any delay or irregularity in the submission or delivery of medical certificates to the Department inevitably causes delays.
Examination of medical certificates forwarded to the Department has shown that a number of claimants fail to quote their RSI number correctly and this can result in delay of payment. Every effort is made to issue payments for disability benefit recipients as speedily as possible after receipt of medical evidence and in most cases cheques are actually issued on the same day as the certificates are received. Inevitably a small proportion may be issued on the day following receipt of the certificate. Naturally, I cannot comment on specific cases in the absence of identifying particulars. If the Deputies would arrange to furnish details of any cases which have been brought to their attention, the matter will be looked into further in those cases.
I am very conscious of the need for the speedy processing of disability benefit claims. In this respect internal administrative practices are kept under continuous review to ensure that they are operating as efficiently as possible.
The Department are installing a major telecommunications and computer network as a first step in providing improved local services. This includes computerised links with certain community welfare officers of the health boards. The progress already achieved has resulted in the provision of up to date information at some locations outside Dublin. As the network develops, possibilities to further improve the service which can be provided locally will arise.