I am informed by the Department of Social Protection that the person concerned was notified by letter dated 19th March 2014 that she was deemed to be not incapable of work and was therefore not entitled to illness benefit with effect from 25th March 2014. The Social Welfare Appeals Office has confirmed that an appeal from the person concerned was registered on 16th April 2014, and that she submitted further medical evidence in support of her appeal on 13th May 2014. The person concerned was called for a further medical assessment on 20th May 2014 and the result of this assessment was that she was still deemed to be not eligible for illness benefit. The Social Welfare Appeals Office was notified by the Department on 22nd May 2014 of the outcome of the further medical assessment and, in accordance with the statutory requirements, the appeals office then wrote to the person concerned on 26th May 2014 asking her to set out the complete grounds of her appeal. The appeals office has no record of any response having been received to date to that request. As soon as the person concerned provides clarification as to the grounds of her appeal as requested on 26th May 2014 the Department will be asked to provide a submission on the grounds of the appeal and the relevant departmental papers. When these have been received, the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.
The Deputy made reference in his question to an oral appeal hearing attended by the person concerned two weeks ago. I would like to clarify that this was not an oral appeal hearing, but was a further medical assessment carried out by the Department, as outlined. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.