Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Questions (132)

James Bannon


132. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the delay in the documentation for an appeal being submitted to the Appeals Office, D'Olier House, from the Carer's Allowance Section of the Longford Office in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29598/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Carer’s allowance section has been involved in a business process improvement review and backlog elimination programme. New structures and processes were set up to deal with the normal weekly intake of new claims along with a dedicated team to clear the backlog of claims that had built up over the course of 18 months or so. All backlogged claims were actioned by the target date of the end of Q1 2013. New claims being received continue to be processed without delay. The current average time taken to decide new carer’s allowance applications is 8 weeks and this is continuing to reduce.

As a consequence of the very high number of decisions made in the last year, there has been a corresponding substantial increase in the number of appeals being received. Delays in the preparation of claims for appeal are arising as a consequence and this is regretted. Carer’s allowance section is now focussed on reducing the appeals.

With regard to the specific claim mentioned; this department received a claim for carer’s allowance for the person concerned on 6th December 2011. The claim was disallowed on habitual residence grounds and the person in question was notified of this decision and the reason for it on 23rd of July 2012. A letter of appeal was received in August 2012. The claim was reviewed by a deciding officer, who did not change her opinion following her review. The deciding officer forwarded all the relevant claim papers to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) for determination on 20th March 2013.

The delays in this case are regrettable. Because of its quasi-judicial nature, the processing of appeals takes time and reflects the fact that, by definition, the appeal process cannot be a quick one.