Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare whether a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who lives alone and is in receipt of a United Kingdom widow's pension is entitled to a free fuel allowance.

Fuel allowances are payable under the national fuel scheme to persons in receipt of long term social welfare payments from my Department who satisfy the living alone conditions of the scheme and whose household income is below a certain level. The person concerned is not in receipt of a qualifying payment from my Department and is not, therefore, entitled to a fuel allowance under the scheme.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare the qualifying conditions which will apply to the pre-retirement allowance when the scheme is fully operational; the reason for the delay in the implementation of the scheme; and when it is expected to be in operation.

The pre-retirement allowance scheme will be an optional scheme available to older long term unemployed persons who have been in receipt of unemployment payments for at least 15 months and who satisfy a means test.

Legislative provision for the scheme was made in the Social Welfare Act, 1988, but certain amendments to the legislation are necessary and it is intended to include these in the forthcoming Social Welfare Bill. Subsequently the necessary regulations to bring the scheme into operation will be made and it is intended that the scheme will come into operation later this year.

The Deputy will find further details in reply to Question No. 12 on the Order Paper of Thursday, 26 January 1989, as reported at columns 531 to 533 of the Official Report.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare the entitlements which are due to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 who is a long term hospital patient; the reason he has not received payments since he entered hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The person concerned is not in receipt of any social welfare payment.

His insurance contribution record indicates that he would not be entitled to any payments under the sickness benefit payment schemes as he has no contributions paid or credited since 1984. The position is that where a client has no contributions paid or credited for two consecutive contribution years he does not qualify for payment of disability benefit or the award of credits in respect of unemployment or incapacity for work until such time as he has at least 26 contributions in the course of a subsequent year of insured employment.

I have arranged that this case be investigated to confirm that the person concerned is not being deprived of any benefit payment that he may be entitled to under the Social Welfare Acts.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 has been refused disability benefit despite being a certified sufferer of myalgic encephalomyelitis which is recognised as a serious disease in England but not recognised by his Department; and if he will review this case in view of the fact that the Minister for Health is to meet with the ME Association of Ireland shortly.

The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 9 January 1989. Medical certificates submitted from this date do not give myalgic encephalomyelitis as the certified cause of incapacity.

Payment was suspended on this claim pending the result of an examination by a medical referee as the person concerned had been found capable of work on two occasions on her previous claim. The examination has been arranged for 14 February 1989 and her claim to benefit will be decided in the light of the medical referee's report.

Where a person is certified as unfit for work due to myalgic encephalomyelitis, the claim is treated in the same manner as for any other certified incapacity. Each case is considered on its own merits.