Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

295 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason pensioners on pro-rata pensions do not receive the full benefit of pension increases announced in the budget; if she will ensure that in future, the full amount of these increases will be applied to pro-rata pensions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15117/02]

In order to qualify for the maximum rate of the old age contributory pension a person must, among other qualifying conditions, achieve a yearly average of at least 48 contributions paid or credited on their social insurance record. Reduced pensions are paid to those with yearly averages as low as ten contributions and arrangements are also in place for the payment of pro-rata pensions to those with mixed rate insurance records or contributions from different countries. Reduced rate or pro-rata pensions are paid at a fixed percentage of the full rate payment and in order to ensure that the differential between the various rates is maintained, budget increases are also applied on a pro-rata basis. For instance, a person receiving a payment of 50% of the maximum rate receives 50% of any budget increase applied to the full rate pension. Applying the full budgetary increase to those with reduced payments would erode the differentials which exist and which are intended to reflect the level of contribution which a person has made to the social insurance fund. It would also mean that those on reduced rate pensions would, on an ongoing basis, benefit disproportionately from budget increases.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

296 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to provide chiropody services as an insured benefit, in the same way that dental and optical benefits are provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15118/02]

Under the social insurance system, the treatment benefit scheme, operated by my Department, provides benefits in the areas of dental, optical and aural treatment for qualified PRSI contributors and their dependent spouses. These benefits, which were introduced in 1942, were transferred from the former national health insurance system to the social insurance system on its introduction in 1953. I understand that chiropody services are made available to medical card holders over 65 years of age by the health boards under the Health Acts. I have no plans to extend the scope of the social insurance system to include chiropody services.

Michael Ring

Question:

297 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive unemployment benefit when they have been laid off from seasonal work. [15119/02]

In the context of a recent review of his entitlement, the person concerned was asked to provide details of his efforts to find work. The person concerned indicated that he was not available for or genuinely seeking full-time work. Based on his response a deciding officer disallowed his claim on the grounds that he was not available for or genuinely seeking full-time employment. The person concerned has appealed this decision and his file has been forwarded to the social welfare appeals office for determination.

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.