Thursday, 2 May 2013

Questions (128)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

128. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department is currently reviewing disability applications from July 2012; the reasons for the backlog; the attempts made by her Department to clear this backlog; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21016/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The earliest new applications for disability allowance which are awaiting action by a deciding officer was received in August 2012. Those applications have, however, been medically assessed at this point.

A recent analysis of the applications pending decision indicated that approximately 60% of them had been waiting for a decision for 12 weeks or fewer.

The general practice is that claims are decided in date of receipt order. However in some instances priority is given to certain claims, for example, claims received from 16 year olds who parents/guardians had been in receipt of domiciliary care allowance or in cases where claimants are very ill.

The processing time for individual claims can vary depending on the complexity of the claimant’s circumstances and the information they provide in support. In many cases, further information is required in order to make a decision for example a medical assessment, information from the claimant or applicant themselves or a report from a social welfare inspector.

Following the completion of a major service delivery modernisation programme disability allowance has recently untaken a business process improvement initiative aimed at eliminating the backlog and improving customer service. A plan has recently been put in place to ensure that new claims being received are dealt with promptly and to eliminate the current backlog. Additional temporary staff is being assigned to the disability allowance area to ensure that the backlog is eliminated as soon as possible. The target is to have the current backlog of disability allowance applications actioned by the end of quarter 2 2013.