Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (427)

Bernard Durkan


427. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason payments of €10 per week are not acceptable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22790/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

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

It is the department’s policy to pursue all debts with the aim of recouping the money owed within the shortest possible timeframe. To this end, the department may withhold any arrears due to the customer and/or implement weekly deductions of up to 15% of the personal rate payable to the customer.

When determining a recovery plan, the general approach is that the recovery amount proposed will be the maximum repayment that the person can afford in order to recover the overpayment as quickly as possible. Due consideration is given to any case made by the person regarding the method of recovery. Currently, the department does not apply interest or penalties on the amounts owing.

Correspondence issued to the person concerned on 17 January 2014 advising him of the outstanding overpayment amount €12,755.79 and a proposed method of recovery of the overpayment. This letter proposed to recover his debt to the department by withholding arrears of IP of €4,401.99 due to him and to recover the balance of the debt through weekly deductions of €29.00 from his IP payment.

As part of this standard letter, the person concerned was offered the opportunity to comment on the proposal and to provide relevant facts and circumstances that he wished to be considered prior to a recovery plan being implemented. A letter issued to the person concerned on 29 April 2014 advising him that the proposed repayment plan as outlined in 17 January correspondence would be implemented within 7 days if there was no response received from him regarding his overpayment and proposed method of recovery.

To date, the person concerned has not contacted the department regarding proposed weekly deductions nor provided any relevant information pertaining to his current financial circumstances. Therefore no grounds have been put forward for the Department’s consideration to justify a reduced level of repayment.

On 08 May 2014 a letter issued to the person concerned advising him that the Department’s proposed repayment plan was being implemented, consisting of the withholding of arrears of IP and weekly deductions of €29.00 commencing 15 May 2014.

It is still open to the person concerned to contact the department regarding the proposed weekly deductions with evidence of his financial circumstances.