Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (915)

Michael Ring

Question:

1037 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a claim for unemployment benefit made by a person (details supplied) on 10 November 2003, and awarded at the maximum rate for 390 days, has not been made to that person; the reason her Department reduced this benefit with effect from 8 January 2004, treating this as a new claim, rather that continuing payment of the rate previously approved for the full duration of 390 days; and if the rate can be restored to the amount awarded last November. [2275/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

The maximum period for which unemployment benefit can be paid is 390 days. If, at the end of a period of unemployment, a person has not exhausted his/her full 390 days entitlement, the remaining days of entitlement are carried forward to the next linked period of unemployment.

The person concerned had a number of linked unemployment benefit claims in the period from October 2000 to January 2004. On 7 January 2004, the total number of days of unemployment over the period reached 390. The person concerned, however, requalified for a further 390 days' benefit from the 8 January 2004, based on his contribution record.

The rate of unemployment benefit payable is determined by reference to the person's weekly earnings in the governing contribution year, currently 2002. At present, to receive the maximum rate of unemployment benefit, a claimant must have had average weekly earnings of at least €150 in the governing contribution year. The person concerned was awarded benefit at the weekly rate of €105.60, based on his average weekly earnings of €143.19 in the governing contribution year.

Under social welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims and the insurability of employment 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.