Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (418, 419)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

418. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection the percentage and number of domiciliary care allowance applications in the past three years that were initially refused by her Department; the percentage and number of applications that were subsequently granted on appeal; if the results suggest there is a policy of blanket refusal of initial applications within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22742/14]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

419. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if it is departmental policy to refuse domiciliary care allowance in respect of children with autism; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22743/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 418 and 419 together.

The number of domiciliary care allowance (DCA) applications processed and the outcomes for the last three complete years are detailed in the following table.

Year

Applications fully processed in year

Applications allowed by DO incl. on review

Allowed or partly allowed on appeal

Total awarded and as % of all processed claims

2011

5,396

2,502 (46%)

835

3,337 (61%)

2012

4,680

2,204 (47%)

903

3,107 (66%)

2013

4,404

2,444 (55%)

808

3,252 (73%)

Total

14,480

7,150 (49%)

2,546

9,696 (67%)

As can be seen from these statistics, approximately 50% of applications are successful on assessment by a deciding officer, with a further 18% awarded on appeal. In many cases applications are successful at appeal due to the provision of additional information or medical evidence on the care needs of the child, which was not available to the deciding officer (DO) at the earlier stage. The statistics show that there is no policy of a blanket refusal of initial applications.

Eligibility for DCA is not based on the disability but on the level of additional care required by the child because of that disability. Autistic Spectrum Disorder is treated in the same manner as any other disability or condition under the scheme. The Department undertook an assessment of applications that had been processed over a two year period, which indicated that while an overall average of 49% of applications were approved by a deciding officer at assessment stage some 55% of applications in respect of children on the Autistic spectrum were awarded. This statistic would indicate that children with Autism are not treated in a manner that would disadvantage their application for the payment.

It should be noted also that the administrative recommendations made in the report of the review of the DCA scheme relating to changes to the application, decision and appeal processes have been implemented from the 7th April 2014. The application form has been redesigned to allow the detail of the child’s care needs to be more comprehensively documented by the parent/guardian. Also, an additional medical information form can be completed for children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders, such as Autism. This additional medical information, which will be supplied by the specialist attending the child, will ensure that the appropriate information is available to assist in the decision making process. It is hoped that having as much information as possible on the child’s care needs available at the initial assessment stage will allow the correct decision to be made at the earliest opportunity possible and reduce the need for further examination and for recourse to the appeals process.

Question No. 420 withdrawn.