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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 5 Dec 1989

Vol. 394 No. 1

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Payments.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason the legitimate purchase of an animal by a person (details supplied) in County Mayo who has applied for unemployment assistance and for which documentary evidence was produced, was not allowed in calculating his means for unemployment purposes.

The person concerned made a claim for unemployment assistance on 4 September 1989. As the rate of means assessed against him from a previous assessment, £51.28 per week, derived from the profit from his holding, exceeded the rate payable in his case, he was not entitled to unemployment assistance.

He appealed the amount of means assessed against him and an appeals officer on 22 September also assessed him with means of £51.28 per week. The facts regarding the purchase of the animal referred to were known to the appeals officer.

He completed a further application on 13 October and this claim was also disallowed by a deciding officer on 7 November on the basis that the rate of means assessed against him exceeded the rate of unemployment assistance payable in his case.

As a smallholder, his means are calculated by reference to the normal annual net income accruing to him from his holding. In calculating the expenses involved in operating his holding, account is taken of all costs actually incurred in generating that income. In addition, allowances are made in respect of the replacement cost of production stock and such an allowance was made in this case.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare the present position regarding the appeal of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick in respect of disability benefit.

The person concerned has been in receipt of disability benefit from 31 December 1985 and is currently being paid £45.00 per week, which is the maximum weekly personal rate.

The records of the Department show that payment has issued at regular weekly intervals on receipt of monthly medical evidence and that all benefit payable to date has been issued.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare the entitlement to disability benefit of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; if an oral appeal can be held as requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Payment of benefit to the person concerned was disallowed from 20 February 1989 following examination by a medical referee who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

She appealed the disallowance and was examined by a different medical referee who also considered her capable of work. The case was referred to an appeals officer who, having held an oral hearing in the case, upheld the decision to disallow payment of disability benefit from 20 February 1989. The decision of the appeals officer is final and can only be altered in the light of new facts or fresh evidence.

The person concerned has submitted letters from her doctor and these were considered by both the Department's medical adviser and the appeals officer. The appeals officer decided that they did not contain evidence which would warrant a change in his decision.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare whether a person (details supplied) in County Cork is eligible for a free fuel allowance; and if so, when this will be paid.

The person concerned was awarded the free fuel allowance with effect from 20 October 1989. An allowance book for £5.00, payable from 23 November 1989, has been issued to her local post office and all arrears due will be issued directly to the person concerned as soon as possible.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will extend the facility for entitlement introduced in November 1988 to old age contributory pension, to include employees of semi-State companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Social Insurance Provisions) Regulations, 1988, — S.I. No. 263 of 1988 — which came into effect on 13 October 1988 gave entitlement to old age (contributory) pension on a pro-rata basis to certain persons who failed to qualify for pension because of gaps in their insurance records prior to April 1974. These gaps occurred because, prior to April 1974, social insurance coverage for non-manual workers applied only if their earnings were below a certain limit. This limit was increased from time to time and, as a result, some persons found themselves being intermittently in and out of insurance, thus causing gaps in their insurance records. These gaps affected entitlement to old age (contributory) pension for which a minimum average of 20 contributions since the date of entry to insurance is required and in some cases, as a result of the gaps, people failed to qualify for pension.

The provisions do not apply to persons such as employees of semi-State companies who in the course of their working lifetime move from full to modified insurance and, as a result, fail to qualify for the old age contributory pension due to gaps in their social insurance records in respect of that pension, which occurred while they were insured at the modified rate. This is an ongoing feature of the social insurance system. The question of pension coverage for persons in this sitution is being examined by the National Pensions Board as part of their review of pension provisions generally.