Question No. 445 withdrawn.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Questions (446)

John McGuinness

Question:

446. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for jobseeker's allowance now under appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) and if she will expedite same. [31643/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the jobseekers allowance and supplementary welfare allowance appeals from the person concerned were referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to convene an oral hearing in this case.

Every effort will be made to hear the case as quickly as possible and the appellant will be informed when arrangements for the oral hearing have been made.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Departmental Staff Training

Questions (447)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

447. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Social Protection the training front-line officials in her Department receive so as to recognise cases where long-term and short-term unemployed persons require access to mental health services; if there are any plans to upscale such training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31649/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department’s frontline staff cannot and are not expected to be in a position, or have the expertise to, clinically assess the mental health needs of customers. However, the Department has taken initiatives to raise mental health awareness among its staff.

Since 2010, Mental Health Ireland has assisted in the delivery of a one-day training course to staff in the Department to raise awareness of mental health issues. 356 staff members have received this training to date. Local mental health support organisations, such as AWARE, have also been invited to talk to staff where a need is identified.

In addition, following feedback from frontline staff and management, a need was recognised to support staff in dealing with customers who identify themselves as having thoughts of suicide. Over the past year, with assistance from the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), the Department has provided ‘safeTALK’ training to 82 frontline staff. This training programme helps prepare participants to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.

Also this year, the NOSP has provided access to the ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills) training workshop to the Department’s staff. This two-day workshop trains participants to reduce the immediate risk of a suicide and increase the support for a person at risk. A small number of staff has received this training to date.

The Department will continue to provide these mental health training supports to frontline staff and management.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (448)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

448. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for a partial capacity benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31654/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Partial capacity benefit was awarded to the person concerned following an assessment by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that the restriction on her capacity for work should be assessed as moderate.

An appeal was registered on 14th May 2013 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department has been asked to provide the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer’s comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an assessment by another Medical Assessor will be carried out.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (449)

Michael Creed

Question:

449. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be expedited on a carer's allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31684/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 08th April 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Questions (450)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

450. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when an invalidity pension application will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31686/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions.

This department received a claim for invalidity pension for the person concerned on 08 August 2011. The medical evidence provided by the claimant in support of her claim was examined by a medical assessor who was of the opinion, based on the evidence provided, that the person concerned was not eligible for invalidity pension as she did not satisfy the medical criteria. The application for invalidity pension was disallowed by a deciding officer. The person in question was notified of this decision and the reason for it on 14 April 2012.

Further medical evidence was subsequently received from the claimant on several separate dates in the period between October 2012 and April 2013 with requests that the decision be reviewed. This additional evidence, along with the original information, was evaluated by a different medical assessor who also expressed the opinion that the person concerned does not satisfy the medical criteria. The deciding officer has confirmed the original decision and notified the claimant of the outcome on 12 June 2013, advising her of her right to appeal the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (451)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

451. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31688/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 09th May 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (452)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

452. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for carer's allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31691/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 28th May 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Mortgage Interest Supplement Payments

Questions (453)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

453. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the correct level of mortgage interest relief in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; the history of the amounts payable to the person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31703/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned has been in receipt of a mortgage interest supplement from November 2010. As at 01 November 2010 the rate of supplement paid to the person concerned was €895 per month and from 01 January 2011 the rate paid was €886.90. As at the 01 December 2011 the rate paid was €1,170 and from 01 May 2012 the rate paid was €796.50. The person concerned is currently in receipt of a mortgage interest supplement at a rate of €663.26 per calendar month from 01 June 2013 which is the maximum amount payable based on information available to this Department.

Carer's Allowance Waiting Times

Questions (454)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

454. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications that are currently awaiting to be processed for carer's allowance; the timescale it will take in order to process these applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31750/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The backlog of claims and processing times for carer’s allowance were unacceptable in 2012 but significant improvements have been made in the past year by my Department and the backlog of carer’s allowance applications has been eliminated. New applications are now being actioned on receipt and applications received in the last 6 months are now decided within 8 weeks.

The total number carer’s allowance applications which were awaiting decision at mid-June 2012 were approximately 11,600. At present, the number is approximately 2,900 cases. Most of these applications are already processed and are awaiting further information from customers or are part of the appeals process.

It should be noted that the processing time for individual applications can vary depending on the complexity of the applicant's circumstances and the completeness of the information they provide in support.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (455)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

455. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 237 of 18 June 2013, if a decision on an appeal in respect of a carer's allowance will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31761/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 20th June 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (456)

Clare Daly

Question:

456. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to implement a system whereby maintenance orders which are awarded to social welfare recipients would be deducted from their social welfare payments. [31791/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Men and women are required by law to maintain their dependants. Maintenance can be paid voluntarily or as a result of a maintenance order granted by the courts. If someone is in receipt of a social assistance payment they must satisfy a means test. All sources of income, including maintenance, are assessed as part of the means test.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Eligibility

Question No. 458 withdrawn.

Questions (457)

Noel Harrington

Question:

457. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a detailed breakdown for all applicants for basic supplementary welfare allowance of the way the means test is calculated; if she will make it departmental policy that this would be issued in future to all applicants for basic supplementary welfare allowance in line with other schemes involving a means test administered by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31793/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Where a supplementary welfare allowance is awarded at a rate below the maximum rate payable it is the position of the Department that details of the full means assessment is communicated to the customer in writing. This position applies to refusals, withdrawals, suspensions or reductions in the rate of supplementary welfare allowance payable.

If the Deputy has a concern in relation to a specific case, he can forward the details to the Department for follow up.

Question No. 458 withdrawn.

Community Employment Schemes Funding

Questions (459)

Dara Calleary

Question:

459. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection the average processing time for the processing of a claim for payment of wages to participants on a community employment scheme by a sponsor to her Department; if there are departmental guidelines in place for a target processing time for these claims; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are some schemes that have to use their own resources to pay wages owed to participants owing to delays in processing claims; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31817/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The payment of wage grants to Community Employment (CE) Sponsors is done on a 4-week basis (called a cycle). There are 13 cycles in a 52-week CE project year. Community Employment (CE) Sponsors are required to pay the participants (employees) on a weekly basis (current week). At the end of each 4-week cycle, the Sponsor can claim a grant from the Department towards the cost of wages paid over the previous four weeks. Wage grants are therefore paid in arrears and only on receipt of the correctly completed claim forms.

To assist Sponsors with cash flow prior to the start-up date of the CE project, voluntary sector Sponsors can claim an Initial Grant equivalent to eight weeks advance of employee wages. Public Sector Sponsors can claim an advance equivalent to four weeks wages. This once-off advance is intended to ease any cashflow difficulties that may otherwise be encountered in the first weeks of the project and can be used to cover participant wages, Supervisor wages, materials or training expenses. The advance payment will be recouped or "clawed-back" by DSP in instalments over the remainder of the project (Cycles 3 to 12).

After each cycle, the wage claim is sent in the form of an Application for Wages and Supervision (AWS), signed by the Sponsor to the DSP Officer with responsibility for the project. The Officer signs off electronically on the AWS sheet via the Community Service Management System (CSM) and sends it for approval via the CSM to the local DSP Manager. Once approved by the Manager, it is automatically processed for payment by the Department’s Accounts Section. Claims received on a Wednesday to Tuesday are paid on the next Wednesday, so the delay can be as little as 1 working day for payment to issue (electronically) and is usually no more than 5 working days. Delays may occur if the AWS claim is incomplete or incorrect on submission.

The 13th (final) cycle is held for payment pending the receipt of the audited accounts/final reconciliation for the project to date, as per the CE Operating Procedures. If there are delays in furnishing satisfactory audited accounts by the Sponsor, this can delay the final payment until the matter is resolved. In emergencies, the Department does have flexibility where a Sponsor is having major financial difficulties to facilitate a wage claim payment.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (460)

John McGuinness

Question:

460. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and when a decision will issue. [31836/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence, has decided to allow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme

Questions (461)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

461. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of families and children who will receive the back to school clothing and footwear allowance automatically in 2013; the amount of money her Department has allocated for this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31999/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme provides a one-off payment to eligible families to assist with the extra costs when children start school each autumn. The Government has provided €48.8m for the scheme in 2013.

This year, approximately 117,000 eligible families will receive an automatic payment in respect of 211,000 children with no application form required.

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

Questions (462)

Martin Heydon

Question:

462. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Social Protection the options available to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in relation to rent allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32027/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible people living in private rented accommodation who are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources and who do not have accommodation available to them from another source. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are currently approximately 93,800 persons in receipt of rent supplement, for which the Government has provided €436m in 2012.

The person concerned has been requested to reduce his portion of the rent to €250.00 per month in order to qualify for the entitlement. Regrettably, if this reduction cannot be obtained the person concerned must seek alternative accommodation that falls within the necessary limits.

Social Insurance Rates

Questions (463)

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

463. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the different rates of PRSI which apply to those recruited to the public sector prior to 1995; if she has any plans to review this differential and ensure that the same rates apply to all those working in the public sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32034/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Permanent and pensionable employees in the public service, other than those who were recruited after 6 April, 1995, are liable to pay social insurance contributions at a lower modified rate of PRSI. Class B covers civil servants, registered doctors and dentists employed in the civil service and Gardaí. Class C covers commissioned officers of the Defence Forces and members of the Army Nursing Service. Class D covers employees in the public service other than those mentioned in Class B and C.

Subject to having the required number of PRSI contributions, employees who pay modified contributions have access to the following payments:

(a) widow’s/widower’s (contributory) pension and surviving civil partner’s (contributory) pension;

(b) guardians payment (contributory);

(c) bereavement grant, and

(d) carer’s benefit.

Modified rate contributions are not reckonable for establishing entitlement to State Pension (contributory).

Permanent and pensionable employees in the public service recruited after 6 April 1995 are liable to pay social insurance contributions at the Class A rate which gives them access to the full range of short-term and long-term social insurance benefits.

Any plans to review the differential in the rates of PRSI to ensure that the same rates apply to all those working in the public sector would have to take account of providing access to the full range social insurance benefits which would have considerable cost implications and could only be considered in a budgetary context.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Questions (464)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

464. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an appeal for jobseeker's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32057/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 21st June 2013, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.