Thursday, 28 February 2019

Questions (217)

John Brassil

Question:

217. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average wait time for new applications, reviews and appeals, respectively, for all social welfare payments, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10121/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The average time to award new claims, broken down by social welfare scheme, is detailed in Table 1.

The average appeal processing times for all appeals determined in 2018, broken down by social welfare scheme, is detailed in Table 2.

I note that 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.

All claim decisions taken by the Department’s Deciding Officers and Designated Persons are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer. In any year approximately 85% of all claims are awarded by the Department and 1% are appealed.

The time taken to process an appeal reflects a number of factors including that the appeals process is a quasi-judicial process with appeals officers being required to decide all appeals on a ‘de-novo’ basis. In addition, appeals decisions are themselves subject to review by the High Court and decisions have to be formally written up to quasi-judicial standards.

Significant efforts and resources have been devoted to reforming the appeal process in recent years. Appeal processing times in respect of all schemes improved between 2011 and 2017 from 52.5 weeks for an oral hearing in 2011 to 26.4 weeks in 2017 and from 25.1 weeks for a summary decision in 2011 to 19.8 weeks in 2017. The corresponding processing times for the 2018 are 30 weeks for an oral hearing and 24.8 weeks for a summary decision.

The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that appeal processing times continue to be a priority for her Office. Further steps are being taken to address these processing times by deploying additional resources to the Appeals Office.

However, the complexity of the appeals process means takes some time for new staff to be trained up and develop expertise.

Where a claimant has been refused a social welfare payment, regardless of the scheme involved, and is appealing that decision, if their means are insufficient to meet their needs it is open to them to apply for supplementary welfare allowance in the interim.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tabular statement attached/…….

Table 1: Social Welfare claims by average waiting times 31 January 2019

Scheme

Average Waiting time(weeks)

Jobseeker's Benefit

1

Jobseeker's Allowance

1

One-Parent Family Payment

5

State Pension Contributory

9

Widow’s, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension

2

State Pension Non-Contributory

11

Household Benefits

1

Free Travel

2

Domiciliary Care Allowance

11

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

1

Child Benefit (Domestic & FRA)

3

Maternity Benefit

6

Paternity Benefit

6

Working Family Payment

7

Carer's Allowance

16

Carer’s Benefit

12

Disability Allowance

14

Invalidity Pension

7

Table 2: Appeal Processing Times by Scheme 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018

-

Average processing times (weeks)Summary Decisions

Average processing times (weeks)

Oral Hearings

Blind Person’s Pension

33.7

27.7

Carer’s Allowance

24.3

28.4

Carer’s Benefit

22.2

25.6

Child Benefit

36.1

42.7

Disability Allowance

17.1

23.8

Illness Benefit

30.7

36.5

Partial Capacity Benefit

32.6

32.8

Domiciliary Care Allowance

31.6

36.2

Deserted Wife’s Allowance

70.6

-

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

28.7

69.1

Farm Assist

44.0

47.8

Bereavement Grant

36.1

-

Death Benefit (Pension)

31.5

-

Working Family Payment

29.4

40.1

Invalidity Pension

24.7

30.2

Liable Relatives

44.0

30.7

Maternity Benefit

30.4

30.7

Paternity Benefit

32.7

23.0

One Parent Family Payment

31.7

37.0

State Pension (Contributory)

39.9

50.2

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

32.2

43.0

Occupational Injury Benefit

36.0

50.7

Disablement Pension

34.3

34.6

OIB-Medical Care

17.5

-

Incapacity Supplement

38.7

29.7

Guardian's Payment (Contributory)

29.8

28.9

Guardian's Payment (Non-Con)

25.5

29.6

Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)

31.9

36.8

Jobseeker's Allowance (Payments)

25.2

31.4

BTW Family Dividend

30.8

-

Jobseeker's Transitional

30.1

28.5

Recoverable Benefits & Assistance

34.9

-

Pre-Retirement Allowance

64.0

29.9

Jobseeker's Benefit

25.1

28.5

Insurability of Employment

53.0

63.9

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

20.7

29.1

Widow/Widower's Pension (Contributory)

35.0

32.8

Widow/Widower's Pension (Non-Contributory)

28.4

25.7

Widowed Parent Grant

45.1

43.7

All Appeals

24.8

30.0