Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Questions (184, 185)

Mary Upton

Question:

202 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if public servants paying full PRSI whose pension is integrated with their occupational pension will, upon reaching 66 years of age, be entitled to receive the household benefits package; and if not, the reason therefore. [12296/06]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

The household benefits package, which comprises the electricity and gas allowance, telephone allowance and television licence schemes, is generally available to people living permanently in the State, aged 66 years or over, who are in receipt of a social welfare type payment or who satisfy a means test. Public servants who pay full PRSI, subject to meeting the normal contribution conditions for entitlement, will qualify for a social welfare old age contributory pension which, under current rules, is a qualifying payment for the household benefit package.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

203 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will withdraw a claim for an alleged overpayment of €3,128.50 to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12. [12459/06]

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Recipients of one-parent family payments are obliged to notify my Department when there is a change in their circumstances, for example, when their earnings increase. Overpayments may arise where beneficiaries fail to notify my Department of an increase in their weekly earnings.

My Department has no record of having received any notification from the person concerned in relation to increased earnings. On the basis of her earnings from employment, a deciding officer has decided that the person concerned was entitled to a transitional payment — half the rate she had been receiving — of one-parent family payment for the period 1 January 2004 to 5 January 2005. The entitlement to one-parent family payment ceased completely from 6 January 2005. An overpayment to a total amount of €8,232.50 for the period from January 2004 to 23 November 2005 resulted.

In all cases, overpayments are recoverable. In the case of the person concerned, it was possible to reduce the amount of the overpayment from €8,323.50 to €3,128.50 as the Department took into account an underlying entitlement to family income supplement which the person concerned may have had during the period in which the overpayment was incurred. The person concerned was notified of the decision on 20 March 2006 and she was advised of her right of appeal.

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.