Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (135)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

135. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45414/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 3 October 2013 and that the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all of the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer's decision when the appeal has been determined.

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.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Questions (136)

Finian McGrath

Question:

136. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason the family of a child (details supplied) in Dublin 17 with a recognised disability was refused carer's allowance and domiciliary care allowance. [45430/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 5th September 2013. The application was disallowed as it was considered that the child does not meet the eligibility criteria for the allowance. A letter issued on the 2nd October 2013 advising of the decision.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the decision to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within twenty one days.

Household Benefits Scheme

Questions (137, 145)

Billy Timmins

Question:

137. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection if in view of the hardship and fear that the abolition of the telephone rental allowance is causing, if same will be reinstated as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45432/13]

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Róisín Shortall

Question:

145. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of senior citizens affected by her decision to discontinue the telephone allowance; and the projected saving to the Exchequer. [45508/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 and 145 together.

My overall concern in this Budget has been to protect the primary social welfare rates. To allow us to protect these core payments, we have had to look very carefully at other additional payments such as the household benefits package, including the telephone allowance, which is currently €9.50 per month (about €2.20 per week). While we have cut the telephone allowance, there have been no cuts to the electricity/gas allowance, free travel, the free television licence, the fuel allowance or the living alone increase. I am not in a position to reverse the decision to abolish the telephone allowance.

The abolition of the allowance is expected to yield savings of €44 million in 2014 and €46 million in 2015. In December 2012, there were 394,671 people getting a telephone allowance from the Department and 218,188 or 55% were in receipt of State pension contributory, State pension non-contributory or State pension transition. In addition, a further 21,040 older people were in receipt of the allowance but not receiving a pension from my Department. The remaining 155,443 customers were in receipt of other schemes from the Department for example widow's pension, disability allowance, carer's allowance, or invalidity pension, some of whom may be over 65 years of age.

The cost of the telephone allowance scheme has risen each year and the number of eligible customers has increased very significantly. In 2007 there were some 316,000 people receiving the telephone allowance, today there are almost 400,000, an increase of 24%. Each year almost 10,000 extra customers become eligible for the allowance because of the increased number of pension recipients.

The telephone allowance was introduced at a time when telephone services were more expensive and fewer people had telephones. In recent years the nature of the telephone market has been transformed with deregulation, mobile services and bundled services including television, broadband and telephone. There is a wide variety of deals and great competition now available.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has responsibility for the Seniors Alert Scheme which provides grant support for the supply of equipment such as personal alarms, smoke detectors and security lighting to enable older people without sufficient means to continue to live securely in their homes. The grant assistance is made available through community and voluntary groups registered with the Department and the equipment supplied under the scheme remains the property of the community group. The budget allocation for 2013 was €2.35 million. While the equipment currently provided requires the use of a landline, there are other companies in the market providing similar services based on mobile technology.

Finally, if any person is in particular difficulty an application may be made for an exceptional needs payments (ENP) under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, to help meet an essential, once-off cost which an applicant is unable to meet out of his or her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment. Each application is determined by a Department based on the particular circumstances of the case.

Bereavement Grant Applications

Questions (138)

Michael Creed

Question:

138. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications approved for financial assistance towards burial costs under each of her Department's schemes in 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45435/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

In 2012 there were 26,553 applications approved for financial assistance towards burial costs under the schemes within the remit of my Department in 2012. A table detailing this number by scheme is attached for the Deputy's information.

Scheme

Approved Applications

Bereavement Grant

22,793

Supplementary Welfare Allowance – Funeral and Burial Expenses

3,760

Total

26,553

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (139)

Seán Fleming

Question:

139. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when the payment of carer's allowance will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois who lodged their application in December 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45452/13]

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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 the 23rd of 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. These were received in the Appeals Office on the 15th of August. The appeal was referred to an Appeals Officer on the 23rd of October, 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.

Family Income Supplement Application Numbers

Questions (140)

John Halligan

Question:

140. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of public service workers who are currently supplementing their income with family income supplement; the number of those public service workers currently with applications awaiting approval; her views on whether, in certain cases, the reduction of public service hours in an effort save money on wages has put an additional burden on her Department, specifically in respect of family income supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45474/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The family income supplement (FIS) is an in-work income support for employees on low earnings who have families and who otherwise might be at risk of financial poverty. FIS also preserves the incentive to remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might only be marginally better off than if he or she were unemployed and claiming social welfare. FIS is available to public sector employees and private sector employees on an equal basis. While the estimated expenditure for 2013 on FIS is expected to be €229.6 million, almost €282 million has been provided in Budget 2014 for this scheme. There are currently some 41,000 families in receipt of a FIS payment. Take-up of FIS has continued to improve over the past 2 years as more people are supported to take up or remain in employment.

To qualify for payment of FIS, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

Figures for the recorded numbers of public servants in receipt of FIS for each year from 2008 to August 2013 are given in the following table. The proportion of FIS recipients who were employed in the public service stood at about 10 -11% between 2008 and 2011. Since 2012 the proportion of FIS recipients who are public servants has dropped somewhat to approximately 9%.

Table: FIS recipients who are public servants

Year Ending

Number in receipt end Dec

Number Public Servants end Dec

% of FIS recipients who are Public Servants

2008

27,798

2,720

10%

2009

25,963

2,951

11%

2010

28,223

3,151

11%

2011

28,876

2,976

10%

2012

32,307

2,860

9%

2013*

41,391*

3,595*

9%

*End August 2013.

There are approximately 300 recently received new and renewal applications from public servants currently awaiting a decision.

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

Questions (141)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

141. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the maximum rent at which they can receive support and the maximum rent support payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45485/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department is not a position to assess this customers eligibility as a request for further information required to make a decision was sent to the client on the 12th August 2013 to which no response has been received.

Rent Supplement Scheme Appeals

Questions (142)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

142. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal in respect of rent support will be decided in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45486/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

According to the records of this Department the person concerned has not submitted an application for a rent supplement in respect of his current address.

Child Benefit Payments

Questions (143)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

143. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when outstanding child benefit will be paid in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45487/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Child benefit is paid up to and including the month of a child's 16th birthday, and continues to the month of the 18th birthday provided the child is in full-time education. In order for payment to continue after the age of 16, it is necessary for the school/college to certify that the child is in full-time education and will be until the age of 18.

In the case of the person concerned, a completed application form has been received and child benefit has been restored. A payment notification has issued to him and payment for the months from July 2013 to November 2013 will be lodged to his nominated bank account on Tuesday, 5 November 2013.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Applications

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 137.

Questions (144)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

144. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if arrangements have been made to make payment of supplementary welfare allowance to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare while awaiting a decision in respect of further documentation in regard to an appeal hearing or oral hearing, in view of the extreme hardship caused to the applicant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45489/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

According to the records of this Department the person concerned has not recently submitted an application for supplementary welfare allowance. The person concerned was previously refused supplementary welfare allowance for failure to attend two oral appeals hearings with respect to a jobseeker's allowance claim.

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 137.