Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard Allen

Question:

117 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork was refused a back to school allowance by the Southern Health Board. [3945/02]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme is administered on behalf of my Department by the health boards in parallel with the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

The scheme is designed to assist certain recipients of social welfare and health board payments with the cost of children's school uniforms and footwear. The scheme operates from the beginning of June to the end of September each year. An allowance of €80 is payable in respect of qualified children from two to 11 years and as announced in the recent budget the allowance payable in respect of qualified children from 12 to 22 years will be increased to €120 from June 2002.

A person may qualify for payment of a back to school clothing and footwear allowance if he or she is in receipt of a social welfare or health board payment or participating in an approved employment scheme or attending a recognised education and training course and has household income at or below certain prescribed levels.

The Southern Health Board was contacted on behalf of the individual in question and has advised that an application for a back to school clothing and footwear allowance was only received in December 2001. As the closing date for applications was 30 September 2001 the board deemed that it was not possible to process the particular application under the terms of the back to school clothing and footwear scheme.

If the individual in question feels that he may qualify for a back to school clothing and footwear allowance this year he should apply to the community welfare officer at his local health centre when the scheme commences in June.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

118 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs his proposals to rectify the situation whereby the qualifying adult allowance on some contributory old age pensions has been considerably reduced (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3995/02]

As announced in last year's budget, I intend to increase the payment for qualified adults aged 66 or over to the same level as the personal rate of the old age (non-contributory) pension. This process commenced in budget 2001 with special increases of €19.05 granted. In budget 2002 increases of up to €12.70 were granted to qualified adults over 66 years of age. The measure is intended to improve the position of women who do not qualify for a pension in their own right.

In general, a QAA is paid at a lower rate than the personal rate. However, in the case of some reduced rate contributory pensions not including pre-53 or over-56 self employed pensions, the QAA was actually being paid at a higher rate than that being paid in respect of the pensioner. In these cases, the personal rate is reduced to reflect the average level of contributions paid but the full rate QAA was being paid.

I recognised that the proposals announced in budget 2001 would worsen this anomaly and, accordingly, I introduced measures in the Social Welfare Act, 2001, to deal with the situation. From April 2001 the QAA payments in all new cases have reflected the rate at which pensions are awarded. For instance, when a person is awarded a pension at half the full personal rate the qualified adult is also paid at half the full QAA rate.

The person concerned is in receipt of half rate old age contributory pension applicable to those with a yearly average of ten to 14 contributions. The rate of QAA which would have applied from April 2001 is €50.54 or 50% of the full QAA. However, in order that there would be no reduction in the rate payable, it was decided to slow down the rate of increase for people already in receipt of reduced rate pensions. In the case of the person concerned, the QAA was increased by €10.16 resulting in a payment of €92.20 instead of €50.54. Budget 2002 increased the QAA to €98.50 in this case.

I consider that this measure represents a sympathetic solution to the removal of the anomaly.

Michael Ring

Question:

119 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive arrears of child dependence allowance. [3996/02]

An application for payment of a child dependent allowance increase in the widow's pension of the person concerned in respect of her son was received on 24 January last. She has been awarded payment for 4 September 1998 to 30 June 2000 during which period her son was undergoing full-time education. The arrears payment will issue by cheque within the next ten days.

Under social welfare legislation, decisions in relation to claims are made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Michael Ring

Question:

120 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be awarded a carer's allowance. [4004/02]

The person concerned applied for carer's allowance on 22 November 2001. One of the principal conditions for receipt of the allowance are that full-time care and attention is required and being provided.

The medical evidence submitted with the application was insufficient to determine whether the person being cared for required full-time care and attention and a more comprehensive medical report was requested from the care recipient's doctor.

This report was referred to the Department's medical adviser. In the light of the evidence and the opinion of the medical adviser, the application was refused on the basis that full-time care and attention was not required. The person concerned was notified of this decision and of her right of appeal to the social welfare appeals office on 11 January 2002.

Under social welfare legislation, decisions in relation to claims must be made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.