Question No. 510 answered with Question No. 503.

Direct Provision Payments

Questions (511)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

511. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount paid to an adult living in direct provision; the amount provided for each child living in direct provision; and her plans to increase the amount provided to each. [51944/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Ireland has opted in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive with effect from 30 June 2018.  As a result, direct provision allowance is being renamed daily expenses allowance.  The Government has provided over €5.6 million for the allowance in 2018.  This is paid to applicants for international protection who live in the direct provision system where they are provided with full board accommodation and other facilities/services by the Reception and Integration Agency of the Department of Justice and Equality.

The allowance is currently paid at the rate of €21.60 per week per adult and per child.

Budget 2019 provided that the rate of payment will increase to €38.80 for adults and €29.80 for children with effect from March 2019.  This fully implements the recommendation of the McMahon Report on Improvements to the Protection Process which was published in June 2015.

Any further increases to the rate of this allowance require approval by Government and must be considered in a budgetary context.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications Data

Questions (512)

Robert Troy

Question:

512. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of illness benefit claims awaiting assessment; and the steps being taken to resolve issues being encountered by applicants and those already in receipt of illness benefit that are experiencing regular issues with payment. [51513/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department receives approximately 1,000 Illness Benefit Claims each working day. The number of Illness Benefit claims pending decision on Monday 10th December 2018 was 954.

My Department has deployed additional staff both to process new Illness Benefit claims received and resolve issues being encountered by existing applicants.

I want to assure the deputy that my  department continues to focus on Illness Benefit and where  payment issues arise  applicants will be paid the correct amount for the period of their illness as certified by their GP as quickly as possible . 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Questions (513)

Robert Troy

Question:

513. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to consider giving greater responsibility back to the regional offices in terms of processing certain social welfare payments. [51514/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Illness Benefit has always been administered centrally.

The Department has a dedicated freepost address for customers to send their Illness Benefit forms and certificates to (Social Welfare Services, PO Box 1650, Dublin 1). For the efficiency and convenience of our customers we ask that they send their forms and certs to this address.

However, if certificates are sent into a local Intreo Centre, they will be processed  there.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Exceptional Needs Payment Applications

Questions (514)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

514. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an exceptional needs payment will be made available in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51521/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned was issued an Exceptional Needs Payment on the  05th December 2018

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Commencement of Legislation

Questions (515)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

515. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for the delay in the commencement of Part 9 of the Children and Families Relationship Act 2015; the steps she has taken to date to address the issue; when this section of the Act will be commenced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51524/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Certain sections in Part 9 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 provide for the registration and re-registration of the birth of a donor-conceived child. The current position is that these sections need to be amended, to correct technical errors, and have yet to be commenced. My intention is to correct these technical errors by means of Committee Stage amendments to the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017, which I hope to see taken early in the new year.

Commencement of these provisions is also dependent on commencement of Parts 2 & 3 of the Act, which is the responsibility of the Minister for Health. In this regard, the Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill 2018 was enacted on 24 July 2018. It was introduced to correct typographical and technical errors in the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, which will facilitate the subsequent commencement of Parts 2 & 3 of the Act. There are important administrative and operational arrangements to be put in place to facilitate the implementation of Parts 2 & 3, including the establishment of the National Donor-Conceived Person Register and the appointment of authorised persons under the Act. I know that it is Minister for Health's intention that Parts 2 & 3 of the Act will be commenced as soon as possible.   

In order to progress this, officials from the General Register Office, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and the Department of Health are working together to ensure that the appropriate legislative, regulatory, and operational, mechanisms are in place to allow for the earliest possible commencement of all of the relevant legislation that will allow for birth registrations of donor-conceived children. 

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (516)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

516. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a back payment for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51540/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

As the result of an appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, the domiciliary care allowance (DCA) in payment to the person concerned, in respect of the two children for whom she is caring, was backdated.

Following this decision, the person concerned requested a review of the decisions in relation to her carer's allowance (CA) claims.

This review has resulted in CA being awarded to the person concerned from 2 December 2010 in respect of her first care recipient and from 7 August 2014 in respect of her second care recipient. 

The person concerned was notified on 5 December 2018 of this revised decision, the reason for it and of her right of appeal. Arrears of allowance due issued on 7 December 2018.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (517)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

517. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); when a decision will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51623/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 20 February 2018.

It is a condition for receipt of CA are that the person being cared for must have such a disability that as a result they require full-time care and attention. 

This is defined as requiring from another person, continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions or continual supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself and likely to require that level of care for at least twelve months.

It is a further condition that the carer must provide this level of care. 

In addition, every applicant for a social welfare payment is required to furnish a deciding officer with such certificates, documents, information and evidence as may be required for the purpose of deciding a claim.  

The person concerned did not provide documents that were requested in relation to her means and her employment.  In addition it was decided that she was not providing full-time care and attention and that the person being cared for did not require full-time care attention.  Therefore her application for CA was disallowed.

The person concerned was notified on 26 July 2018 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal. The person concerned has requested a review of this decision. 

The review is currently being processed and once complete, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Questions (518)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

518. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will issue on an invalidity review for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51666/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The lady referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 21 June 2018.  Payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 13 December 2018.  Arrears due from 21 June 2018 to 12 December 2018 less any overlapping social welfare payment will issue as soon as possible.  The lady in question was notified of this decision on 10 December 2018.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Questions (519)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

519. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason an illness benefit claim has not issued to a person (details supplied); if payment can issue as soon as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51704/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned is in payment and any arrears owing have been issued.

The claim is both medically certified and paid up to the 10th December 2018.   

If the person concerned remains ill and unfit for work, a further medical certificate should be submitted to the Department as soon as possible in order for further payments to issue.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Applications

Questions (520)

Tom Neville

Question:

520. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a family income supplement, FIS, application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51713/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (formerly Family Income Supplement ) is a weekly tax-free payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

An application for Working Family Payment (WFP ) was received from the person concerned on 25 September 2018.

When the applicant had updated their Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) claim as requested, their WFP application was processed on 16 November 2018. 

The person concerned has been awarded WFP with effect from 27 September 2018 to 25 September 2019.

All arrears owing issued to their nominated bank account on 20 November 2018 and all weekly payments have issued to date.

The person concerned was notified in writing on 16 November 2018 of this decision and of their right of review and appeal. 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Questions (521)

Tom Neville

Question:

521. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51716/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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

The department received a claim for IP for the gentleman concerned on 15 November 2018.  In order to establish whether the medical condition for IP is satisfied in this case, the Department sent two forms to the gentleman on 05 December 2018.  On receipt of the completed forms the claim will be processed as quickly as possible and he will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Questions (522)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

522. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a domiciliary care allowance review will be completed in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51717/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

An application for Domiciliary Care Allowance was received from the person concerned on the 15th June 2018.  The application was not allowed as the child was not considered to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the allowance.  A letter issued on the 13th September 2018 setting out the decision of the deciding officer to refuse the allowance.

A review of this decision was requested on the 24th September 2018.  The claim will be re-examined by a deciding officer and a revised decision will be made if warranted.  The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of the deciding officer's review as soon as possible.

Reviews are currently taking approximately 12 weeks to process.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Public Service Vehicles

Questions (523)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

523. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding public service vehicle, PSV licences; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51749/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department provides a wide range of education and training opportunities for unemployed people, lone parents and people with disabilities.  The objective is to raise education and skills among the unemployed to meet the requirements of the labour market.  

A person wishing to undertake a part-time training, including a PSV course, can apply for approval under the education, training and development option (ET&D) or the part-time education option (PTEO) and may continue to receive, subject to satisfying certain conditions, his/her existing social welfare payment while attending recommended courses.

Furthermore the Training Support Grant (TSG) funded by my Department is designed to facilitate quick access to short-term training that is identified to assist an individual jobseekers access immediate work opportunities.  This grant may be provided to a jobseeker to assist with the costs of training where reasonable evidence of a potential job is provided. While this grant will not assist with the costs of a PSV licence, it can support jobseekers with PSV training costs, awarding up to €500 per annum.

My Department’s Intreo staff are available to advise an individual of the option that might best suit their needs.  

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (524)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

524. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she has or is taking to address issues faced by returning emigrants in terms of information on and access to social welfare entitlements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51752/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Citizens Information Board, which comes under the aegis of my Department, is the statutory body responsible for supporting the provision of independent information, advice and advocacy on the broad range of public and social services. 

 Information is provided through the nationwide network of 260 Citizens Information Centres, and  through the Citizens Information Phone Service (0761 07 9000) which operates from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and on the website  www.citizensinformation.ie. The website has a section with specific information on social welfare entitlements which is of interest to Irish citizens returning to live in Ireland. Service and information about Social Welfare entitlements can also be accessed on my department's own website www.welfare.ie or at any of our 66 Intreo Centres or 58 Branch Offices. 

 In addition the department's service JobsIreland.ie provides an online recruitment service to both Employers and Jobseekers at www.jobsireland.ie. The site provides Jobseeker Profiles with a downloadable CV, and also offers a Job-Matching service.

 Returning emigrants are encouraged to visit Intreo Centres and Branch Offices where they will be provided with advice on accessing benefits and the broad range of activation services. This advice will encompass:

- Benefit entitlements and application processes.

- Information on job vacancies.

- Information on Employment Supports.

- Information on Employment Schemes.

In addition the department holds a number of Jobs Fairs which seek to match jobseekers with employers and also to provide information on entitlements and Further Education and Training opportunities.

In summary returning emigrants are encouraged to engage with the department through Intreo Centres, Branch Offices our websites, and the regular Job Fairs that we support

 I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Reports

Questions (525)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

525. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the research being undertaken by her Department; the expected publication date on each subject matter in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51753/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The information requested is currently being compiled within the Department and will be made available to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (526)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

526. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she has examined the habitual residence clause in view of the increasing number of emigrants returning here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51754/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department regularly reviews the habitual residence guidelines to ensure they are fit for purpose. The guidelines, although drafted for Departmental decision-makers, are published online and offer detailed guidance on the most appropriate course of action when applying the criteria with respect to habitual residence.

They include specific guidance relating to returning migrants or those resuming previous residence in the State. This includes the arrangements made by the Department with the registered charity Safe Home to assist with any difficulties Irish emigrants may have in satisfying the provisions with respect to habitual residence.

In addition, training in the assessment of the provisions with respect of habitual residence is available to all decision-makers within my Department. The training places a strong emphasis on case studies and the previous experiences of the participants.

The Department has an information leaflet (SW108), which outlines the key issues with respect to the habitual residence provisions and their application, as well as a Q&A and further contact information.

The Citizens Information Board, under the auspices of my Department, provides a comprehensive and readily accessible guide to the provisions with respect to habitual residence.

Each assistance claim receives a determination in relation to the Habitual Residence Condition in its own right and a decision is based on application of the legislation and guidelines to the particular individual circumstances of each case. The determination of a person’s habitual residence is made in accordance with five factors which are set out in legislation, as follows:

(a) the length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country;

(b) the length and purpose of any absence from the State;

(c) the nature and pattern of the person’s employment;

(d) the person’s main centre of interest, and

(e) the future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances.

These five factors have been derived from European Court of Justice case law, and are generally sufficient to enable the deciding officer to determine whether a person’s present circumstances in Ireland indicate a temporary visit or habitual residence.

In addition to a review of any decision by my Department, claimants can also appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO). This Office functions independently of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Questions (527)

Joe Carey

Question:

527. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made in respect of a jobseeker's allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51758/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 9th October 2018, 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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Questions (528, 529, 530)

John Brady

Question:

528. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the policy in place for reviewing social welfare payments in which the recipient is deceased having viewed their means once their estate is in probate; when this policy commenced; the way in which it operates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51771/18]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

529. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount of money that has been recouped following reviews of social welfare payments in which the recipient is deceased for every year since the policy to do so has been in place. [51772/18]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

530. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the social welfare payments that can be reviewed once the deceased estate is in probate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51773/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 528 to 530, inclusive, together.

Overpayments of social welfare assistance and benefit payments arise as a consequence of decisions made under the relevant sections of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended).  Where an overpayment is raised, my Department is obligated to make every effort to recover sums overpaid.

The balance of any debts arising on any scheme outstanding at the time of death of a debtor can be recovered from the deceased debtor’s estate.  A debt may also arise during the settlement of a deceased customer’s estate where it is  determined that the customer had not adequately declared their means during the time they were receiving a means-tested payment during their lifetime. If, subsequent to the death of a customer, it comes to light that not all of the deceased’s means were properly disclosed, the Department will seek to recover any monies overpaid from the estate of the deceased.

Under s.339 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended, the personal representative of a deceased person who was at any time in receipt of a means-tested payment is obliged to give notice to the Department of their intention to distribute the assets of the estate and to provide a schedule of the assets of the  estate.

The Department issues a notification to the deceased's personal representative advising them of their obligations under law.  If there is an estate to be distributed, a schedule of assets must be provided to the Department.  The personal representative is instructed not to distribute the estate without formal clearance from the Department.

The statement of assets is examined to see if there are assets which were previously not declared to the Department by the deceased.  In the event that there are none, the personal representative will be informed and can proceed to distribute the estate.  A social welfare inspector may be tasked with making enquiries and to provide a report to support the assessment process.

If assets were previously not declared, the Department will calculate the value of any monies paid in excess of entitlements and seek the recovery of same before the estate is distributed.  Any decisions made that the personal representative is dissatisfied with may be reviewed at their request.  The personal representative has a right to appeal any decision made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

In seeking to recover an overpayment from the estate, the value of the estate is reduced by the (reasonable) funeral expenses for which the estate is liable and full recovery of the debt is sought from the remaining assets.  In cases of insolvent estates, full recovery may not be possible.

When all monies have been recovered, a letter of clearance allowing the distribution of the estate will issue to the personal representative. In the event of failure to comply with the provisions of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended, or to make efforts to pay back the sums overpaid, the Department reserves a right to prosecute under the Act and/or to seek civil recovery through the Courts.  Given the costs and time involved, the parties generally agree a negotiated resolution. Where there are no remaining assets in an estate, the outstanding balance that cannot be recovered may be written-off.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.