Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (330, 331, 332, 333)

Tom Fleming

Question:

335 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she has taken to improve the length of time it takes to process contributory pension applications; if she is satisfied with the current turn-around time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35106/12]

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Tom Fleming

Question:

337 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she has taken to improve the length of time it takes to process non-contributory pension applications; if she is satisfied with the current turn-around time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35108/12]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

373 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications for contributory old age pension received and refused in each of the past three years to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35375/12]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

374 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications for non-contributory old age pension received and refused in each of the past three years to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35376/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Social Protection)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 335, 337, 373 and 374 together.

The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers and to ensuring that claims are processed as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Means-tested payments such as State pension (non-contributory) can require more detailed investigation and interaction with the applicant, thereby lengthening the decision making process.

Through ongoing business process improvement projects, the operational processes, procedures and the organisation of work in all scheme areas are continually reviewed to ensure that processing capability is maximised. As part of the Department's programme of service delivery modernisation, a range of initiatives aimed at streamlining the processing of claims and improving claim processing times, supported by modern technology, have been implemented in recent years. The State pension (non-contributory) scheme transferred to a new technology platform in 2011, and this will ensure that the scheme is operated more efficiently and that processing times will improve incrementally.

In addition, the staffing needs of the Department are regularly reviewed, having regard to workloads and the competing demands arising, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources. The Department will continue to source available staff to fill critical vacancies by way of redeployment, or transfer from within the Department and other Government Departments, taking account of the employment control framework (ECF) target, as determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

I wish to assure the Deputies that prompt processing of claims remains a priority for me.

The information requested by the Deputies is set out in the following tables.

Table 1: State pension (contributory/transition) and State pension (non-contributory) — New claims average processing times in weeks

Average weeks to award

2010

2011

May 2012

State Pension (Contributory)

8

5

4

State pension (transition)

4

4

6

State pension (non-contributory)

9

10

11

Table 2: State pension (contributory) claims received and disallowed (under Irish SW legislation)

State pension contributory

2009

2010

2011

2012 (Jan-June)

Received

34,737

28,936

32,193

16,867

Disallowed

8,486

9,688

7,170

3,329

Table 3: State pension (contributory) claims received and disallowed (under EC Social Security Regulations)

State pension contributory

2009

2010

2011

2012 (Jan-June)

Claims Received

6,215

4,398

4,088

1,555

Claims Disallowed

946

951

608

224

Table 4: State pension (non- contributory) claims received and disallowed

State pension non-contributory

2009

2010

2011

2012 (Jan-June)

Claims Received

10,950

9,916

9,838

3,009

Claims Disallowed

2,961

2,641

2,398

641

Question No. 336 answered with Question No. 330.
Question No. 337 answered with Question No. 335.
Questions Nos. 338 and 339 answered with Question No. 330.