Working Family Payment Payments

Questions (1243)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1243. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on a review of a working family payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12899/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional financial support to employees on low earnings with children.  In order to qualify for WFP, the applicant or the applicant and their spouse, partner or cohabitant must be engaged in full-time employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight. This condition must be satisfied on an ongoing basis.

An application was received from the person concerned on 21 December 2018.

Their application was disallowed on 22 January 2019 as they did not satisfy the above employment condition at the time of application.

The person concerned requested a review of the decision of 22 January 2019. Following a review of their application based on updated information provided by the applicant, it has been established that they now satisfy the above condition.  The application for the person concerned was processed and awarded on 13 March 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Carer's Allowance Review

Questions (1244)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

1244. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a review of a carer’s allowance application by a person (details supplied) which has been marked for review since December 2018 but is still awaiting review will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12909/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has been in receipt of carer’s allowance (CA) for her son since 25 August 2005.

My department received a second application for CA in respect of her sister on the 31 January 2018.

The application was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) to assess the level of care being provided, assess means and confirm that all the conditions for receipt of carer’s allowance are satisfied.

It is a condition for receipt of CA that every claimant shall furnish such certificates, documents, information and evidence as may be required for the purposes of deciding the claim.  The person concerned failed to provide the SWI with information that was required to determine if her means were below the statutory limit.

As the requested information was not supplied it was decided that the person concerned was not entitled to CA.

The person concerned was notified on 23 November 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of this decision. A request for additional information issued on 13 March 2019 in respect of documentation required in order to establish her means.

Once the required information has been received and a decision made, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Waiting Times

Questions (1245)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

1245. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting period for dealing with new applications for carer’s allowance; the waiting period for dealing with review cases of carer’s allowance; the number of staff allocated to dealing with new applications and review cases, respectively, in March 2018 and March 2019, in tabular form; the reason for the lengthy waiting period for review cases to be dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12910/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed as quickly as possible.

However, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process.

To qualify for carer's allowance (CA), the carer must show that they are habitually resident in the State, that they are providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires this level of care and that their means are less than the statutory limit.

Where any scheme area experiences delays, all possible steps are taken to improve processing times. This includes the assignment of additional resources, where available, and the review of business processes, to ensure the efficient processing of applications.

In October 2018 staff were re-assigned to CA claims processing from within the Carers' area and from other areas of the Longford Centralised Schemes Office.  This has resulted in a reduction of 36% in the claims on hands and an improvement in the average waiting time for a decision on a new CA application to 15 weeks in February 2019 with 26.65 staff allocated.

I expect that processing times will continue to improve in the coming weeks as a result.

The progress achieved in reducing new claims on hands and improving average processing times will allow for a review of staff assignments in the Carer's area. A Business Process Improvement project is currently underway in that area to identify opportunities to implement improvements and efficiencies and determine the optimal staffing assignments in the area.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Benefit

Questions (1246)

James Lawless

Question:

1246. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if consideration has been given towards the adequate rest periods of retained firefighters in receipt of jobseeker's benefit being encouraged into full-time employment through their local employment offices; the position for local fire services in view of the fact they will be without firefighters due to the time spent on call breaching the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12919/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The circumstances in which a person shall be regarded as being available for employment for the purposes of Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance are set out in Article 15 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 – S.I. No 142 of 2007.

Retained firefighters are subject to the conditions of being available for and seeking full-time work, as are all other jobseekers.  Therefore, as jobseekers in receipt of a payment, retained firefighters are not exempt from activation.  As with all activation customers, the aim is to facilitate the transition to full-time employment via training and other supports.  For this cohort, my Department takes into account the time given to their firefighting commitments.

It is worth noting that S.I. No. 52/1998 - Organisation of Working Time (Exemption of Civil Protection Services) Regulations 1998 provides that persons employed in a range of activities, including retained firefighters, are, as regards the carrying out of the duties involved in that activity, exempt from the application of sections 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.  The exemptions relate to daily rest periods, rests and intervals at work, weekly rest periods, weekly working hours and night working hours, respectively.

In its decision dated 21 February 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Mr Matzak’s on-call time when not at his place of work constituted working time, for the purposes of the Working Time Directive.  The ruling was specific to the case in question.

The question of staffing resources for local fire services is a matter for local authorities who come within the remit of my colleague Eoghan Murphy T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions

Questions (1247)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1247. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on a matter regarding persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12964/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

In January last year I announced a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to calculating the entitlement of pensioners who reached state pension age on or after 1 September 2012 (i.e., those born on or after 1 September 1946) and who have a reduced rate pension entitlement based on post-Budget 2012 rate bands.

People whose pensions were decided prior to 1 September 2012 were not affected by the Budget 2012 rateband changes and rate reductions.  As a consequence, people whose pensions were calculated under the 2000-2012 ratebands, including those born in 1945, were subject to a significantly more generous regime than those who qualified before or afterwards, as a Yearly Average of only 20 contributions per year (out of a maximum of 49) could attract a 98% pension, and even those with yearly averages of 10-19 contributions per year received a significantly higher pension than those who reached pension age after September 2012.  The effect of the Budget 2012 rateband changes, as it impacted upon those new pensioners since September 2012, will be familiar to anyone who followed the debate on this matter over the last 6-7 years.  If pre-September 2012 pensioners were also allowed avail of HomeCaring Credits, their arrangements, as a group, would continue to be significantly more generous than those of post-2012 pensioners.  There would also be a very significant cost which would be expected to be of the order of several hundred millions of euros each year.  This in turn could significantly impact funds for future pension increases with consequential implications for pensioner poverty.

For those with insufficient contributions to meet the requirements for a State pension (contributory), they may qualify for a means-tested State pension (non-contributory), the maximum personal rate for which is €232 (over 95% of the maximum rate of the contributory pension).  This rate of payment does not include additional supports available, including rent allowance, household benefits or fuel allowance.  Alternatively, if their spouse is a State pensioner, their most beneficial payment may be an Increase for a Qualified Adult, based on their personal means, and amounting up to 90% of a full contributory pension.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (1248)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1248. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to move to a total contributions approach for the State pension (contributory) for all pensioners in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12985/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Government intends to introduce a Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to establishing the level of entitlement for all new state pension contributory claims from 2020 onwards (TCA2020).

I launched a public consultation on the design of the full TCA for all new pensioners to be introduced from 2020 on the 28th of May to which a wide variety of stakeholder groups were invited.  A number of workshops were also held on the day to elicit views and feedback.  All Oireachtas members were invited to a detailed briefing in Leinster House by my officials shortly afterwards.  The consultation was open for over 3 months and the Department received almost 300 responses from individuals and organisations.  Those submissions outlined the views of respondents on a number of issues, including the number of years required for a full pension, as intended as part of the consultation process.

I intend bringing a proposal to Government shortly, setting out the proposed details of the scheme.  When the Government has agreed the approach to be taken, I will initiate the work required to introduce this reform.  I can confirm that the model will include provision for homecaring periods.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pensions Data

Questions (1249)

Dara Calleary

Question:

1249. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of reviews completed by county by 28 February 2019 in respect of the review of the 2012 pension changes; the number of reviews remaining to be completed at that date; the number of persons in each county who will receive an increase in their pension as a consequence of the review, in tabular form; the avenues open to persons who do not receive an increase; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13018/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post-Budget 2012 rate-bands.  These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

Wherever possible, reviews will be processed using information already held by my Department.  In some cases additional information is being requested to ensure people receive the best rate possible.  Approximately 25,000 requests for information have issued to date.  It is important that prompt responses are received to those requests so that the reviews can be completed as quickly as possible.

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary regulations which together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allow the increased payments to be made.  The most recently available figures show that as at week ending 22 March 2019, 8,367 reviews have been completed.

It will take a number of months to complete all the reviews due to the number involved and the individual nature of social insurance records.  Over 100 temporary staff have been recruited to help with this work.  Outcomes will issue to all pensioners in writing when their review is complete.

Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the pensioner’s 66th birthday if later.  Where a person's rate does not increase following a review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment.

Given the scale (90,000 pensioners) involved, the fact that each case requires close individual examination and that some cases are more complex than others, it would not be reasonable to expect all to be processed immediately. While this work will take a number of months to complete, it will continue until all pensioners have been notified of the outcome of their review in writing.

Where possible, reviews will be processed based on information already held by the Department. For the majority of pensioners the next letter they receive from the Department (after the first letter) will be a review outcome letter. Where additional information is required to complete the review, a written request is being sent to the pensioner directly. Almost 24,000 requests for information issued in January and another 11,000 will be issuing to customers in the coming weeks. I would urge anyone who has yet to provide additional requested information to the Department to do so as soon as possible so that their review can be processed.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Insurance Rates

Questions (1250)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1250. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of hours per week an employee works in order to receive a full class A stamp; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13019/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

People within PRSI Class A are those in industrial, commercial and service-type employment who are employed under a contract of service with reckonable pay of €38 or more per week from all employments, and Civil and Public Servants recruited from 6 April 1995.

Currently, there is no set number of hours per week that must be worked.

Until 1991 the threshold for access to social insurance was based on hours worked – 18 hours.

From April 1991 onwards, the person was insurable at the Class A rate of PRSI if their income equalled or exceeded £25 per week.  This threshold was increased to £30 per week from April 1994 and upon conversion to Euro the £30 threshold became €38.

Therefore, based on the current minimum hourly rate of €9.80, an employee working under 4 hours per week gains access to the full range of social insurance benefits.

Employees earning €38 or over per week do not pay the employee portion of the PRSI contribution until their weekly earnings exceed €352.  They then pay the employee PRSI rate of 4% on all earnings, with a PRSI credit to reduce the "step effect".  Employers pay a PRSI contribution of 8.7% (inclusive of the National Training Fund (NTF) levy of 0.9%) on all earnings once weekly earnings equal or exceed €38 while they pay a higher rate of 10.95% (inclusive of the NTF Levy of 0.9%) once earnings exceed €386 per week.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (1251)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

1251. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the processing times for domiciliary care allowance appeals; and the work being carried out to reduce the processing time. [13026/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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 decisions taken by Deciding Officers / Designated Persons of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer.  About 85% of all claims are awarded and just 1% appealed annually.  Nevertheless the Department is concerned that these cases are dealt with as quickly as possible.

The time taken to process an appeal reflects a number of factors including that the appeals process is quasi-judicial and decisions have to be formally written up to a quasi-judicial standard and are subject to review by the High Court.  Accordingly the desire to process appeals quickly must be balanced with the competing demand to ensure that decisions are consistent and of high quality and made in accordance with the legislative provisions and the general principles of fair procedures and natural justice.

A number of new Appeals Officers have joined the Appeals Office over the past 12-18 months to replace staff leaving on retirement.  Given the complexity of the appeals process, it takes some time for new staff to be trained up and develop expertise and this has led to longer processing times during this period.  Improvements in appeal processing times continue to be a priority for the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

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.  If their application for supplementary welfare allowance is refused, they can also appeal that decision.  The supplementary welfare allowance appeal will be prioritised for attention within the Appeals Office as soon as the appeal file and submission is received from my Department.

The corresponding appeal processing times for Domiciliary Care Allowance appeals for 2018 were 36.2 weeks for an oral hearing and 31.6 weeks for a summary decision.

The current processing times for Domiciliary Care Allowance appeals to the end of February 2019 show improvements to 33.4 weeks for an oral hearing and 30.2 weeks for a summary decision.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Question No. 1253 answered with Question No. 1235.

Questions (1252)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1252. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the eligibility for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13053/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 29 January 2019.  Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was disallowed on the grounds that they were not substantially restricted in taking up employment and that they have in excess of the statutory limit.

The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 13 March 2019 and was also notified of their right to request a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO).

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 1253 answered with Question No. 1235.

Illness Benefit Applications

Questions (1254)

Robert Troy

Question:

1254. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an illness benefit application by a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [13072/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department has received medical certificates from the person concerned. However, an application form for Illness Benefit (IB1) has not yet been received from her.

This form has been sent to the person concerned for completion and her claim will be processed as soon as it is received by the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Reviews

Questions (1255)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1255. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a review of an application by a person (details supplied); when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13074/19]

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 referred to on 08 November 2018.

His claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. He was notified on 21 February 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review and appeal.

He requested a review of this decision and submitted further medical evidence on 27 February 2019 in support of his request.  Following a review of all the information available it has been decided that there is no change to the original decision.  He was notified on 19 March 2019 of the outcome of the review.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (1256)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1256. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); if same will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13077/19]

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.

CA was awarded to the person concerned on 14 March 2019 and the first payment issued to her nominated bank account on 21 March 2019.

Arrears of allowance due from 13 December 2018 to 20 March 2019 will also issue.  The person concerned was notified of these details on 14 March 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Eligibility

Questions (1257)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1257. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the cut-off for entitlement to children's allowance to allow children who turn 18 years of age and who are still in secondary education to continue to receive the children's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13083/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years.  The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability.  Child Benefit is currently paid to almost 622,900 families in respect of nearly 1.2 million children, with expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending entitlement to parents of full-time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age would not be a targeted approach.  The adoption of such a proposal would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Families on low incomes can avail of a number of social welfare schemes that support children in full-time education until the age of 22, including:

- Increase for a Qualified Child (IQCs) with primary social welfare payments;

- the Working Family Payment (formerly Family Income Supplement) for low-paid employees with children;

- the Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance for low-income families (paid at the full-time second-level education rate).

These schemes provide targeted assistance that is directly linked to household income and thereby support low-income families with older children participating in full-time education.

Any changes to the eligibility for Child Benefit to those children over 18 years of age that are still in full-time secondary education would have to be considered in the overall budgetary context.

Working Family Payment Applications

Questions (1258)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1258. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a working family payment application by a person (details supplied); the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13169/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work weekly payment which provides additional financial support to employees on low earnings with children.

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 06 December 2018.

The Department wrote to the applicant on 19 February 2019 to request further information.

Following receipt of the requested information, received on 14 March 2019, they have been awarded WFP with effect from 06 December 2018 to 04 December 2019.

The first weekly payment and all arrears owing will issue to their nominated bank account on 19 March 2019.

The person concerned was notified on 14 March 2019 of this decision and of their right of review and appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Customer Verification Procedures

Questions (1259)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1259. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if all issues relative to their identity have been resolved in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13180/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has been invited on two occasions (August 2017 and February 2018) to make an appointment to attend a SAFE registration interview.  The face-to-face interview process involves the verification of a person's identity, the capture of his/her photograph and signature and the verification of data already held by the Department.

To date, the person concerned has not attended for interview. Therefore, he has not gone through the process required to authenticate his identity.

The person concerned can contact his local Intreo Office to arrange an appointment or make an appointment online at MyWelfare.ie: https://services.mywelfare.ie/.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Low Pay Commission Remit

Questions (1260)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

1260. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the actions she has taken to strengthen the role of the Low Pay Commission in respect of the gender pay gap. [13189/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Addressing the factors behind the gender pay gap is a multi-faceted task involving a number of Government Departments and agencies as outlined in the National Strategy for Women and Girls, 2017-2020. Overall coordination of the National Women’s Strategy is led by my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality.

In addition, a significant body of legislation has been developed at national level to combat discrimination and guarantee equal treatment. In this regard, a large number of non-legislative measures and initiatives have helped to promote equality between women and men in all areas. The Minister for Justice and Equality is also responsible for the provision of the legal framework that provides for equal treatment of women and men.

The Low Pay Commission was established through the National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Act 2015.  Its principal function is, once each year, to examine the national minimum hourly rate of pay and to make a recommendation to the Minister respecting the rate, ensuring that all decisions are evidence-based, fair and sustainable, and do not create significant adverse consequences for employment or competitiveness.

The national minimum hourly rate of pay under the National Minimum Wage Acts provides a pay floor for all workers, regardless of gender.  A Research Bulletin published by the ESRI in December 2018, titled 'Minimum Wages and the Gender Pay Gap' noted that a large decrease in the gender wage gap for low-paid workers was observed in Ireland after the introduction of the minimum wage in April 2000. Before the introduction of the Irish minimum wage, men’s wages were 24% higher than women’s wages in the bottom wage decile, i.e. among the lowest-paid tenth of workers. After the introduction of the minimum wage, this gap had reduced to 5%.

The results of the ESRI study indicated that the gender wage gap for the low paid may be effectively reduced by the National Minimum Wage, provided that compliance is high, across both genders.

More recently, increases in the national minimum wage recommended by the Low Pay Commission since its establishment in 2015 have resulted in a 13.3% increase in the national minimum hourly rate of pay to €9.80; this increase has applied to all workers regardless of gender.

Photographic Identification

Questions (1261)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

1261. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the form of identification a person should use instead of a public services card if that is the only form of identification a person has; and if the card will serve as an identification going forward. [13210/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Under current legislation, a Public Services Card (PSC) cannot be requested by any public or private body or person that is not designated as a specified body in Schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended). The PSC can only be used by public bodies specified in this legislation when conducting a public transaction with the person concerned.

One of the provisions set out in Section 5 of the Social Welfare, Pensions, and Civil Registration Bill 2017 would, if enacted, enable citizens to volunteer their PSC where they wish to use it as a form of proof of identity and/or age.  However, it is important to note that a non-specified body could not request or demand the production of a PSC.  It simply gives individuals the option to use their PSC if they wish, as proof of identity and/or age, in transactions with non-specified bodies.

The Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 proposes a number of amendments to the Social Welfare Acts, the Pensions Act 1990 and the Civil Registration Act 2004 in addition to the provisions relating to PSC use.

The amendments to the Pensions Act contain a number of key measures relating to Defined Benefit pension schemes.  It is intended that these measures will act to support existing provisions in the Pensions Act by providing for further protection for scheme members’ benefits and enhancing employer responsibilities for their schemes.  These provisions in particular are very technical and involve complex policy issues.  In order to achieve a resilient solution it has been necessary to consult in detail with other Government Departments and obtain numerous legal advices from the Office of the Attorney General on various aspects of the provisions.  When these matters have been resolved and amendments approved by Government, an early date for Committee Stage will be requested.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times

Questions (1262)

John Brassil

Question:

1262. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to recruit and divert more appeals officers to the social welfare appeals office to deal with the backlog of appeals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13220/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget, which for this Department has involved reductions in staff.

The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the ongoing need to respond to new and changing demands in a wide range of services.  This is to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department.

There has been a significant turnover of staff in the Appeals Office in recent years due in the main to staff retirements.  The filling of these posts is a priority for my Department.  I have also arranged for a number of additional posts to be assigned to that office to deal with the claim load.

Given the complexity of the appeals process it takes some time for new staff to be trained up and develop expertise and this has led to somewhat longer processing times during this period.  The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that appeal processing times will continue to be a priority for her office.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Data

Questions (1263)

John Brassil

Question:

1263. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of social welfare appeals that were lodged in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 by type of appeal per scheme; the percentage of appeals that were allowed for each scheme for each of the years in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13221/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The following tables provide details of all appeals registered by scheme and the outcome of all appeals finalised for the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019.

Appeals which had a favourable outcome for the appellant consist of appeals which were either allowed in full or in part by an Appeals Officer or which were resolved by way of a revised decision in favour of the appellant by a Deciding Officer / Designated Person.

There are a number of reasons why a decision which was refused at first instance might be successful on appeal and it is not necessarily the case that the first decision was incorrect.  It is often the case that new evidence is provided with an appeal and that, as a result, the original decision may be revised by the Deciding Officer or Designated Person.  This was the case in 37.6% of such successful outcomes in 2017, 31.5% of such outcomes in 2018 and 30.3% of such outcomes to the end of February 2019.

Where the decision was not revised by the Department in light of the appeal contentions, further evidence is often provided by the appellant as the appeal process proceeds and in addition, the Appeals Officer may gain insights when they meet the appellant in person at oral hearing which may influence the outcome of the appeal.

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.

Appeals Received 2017–2019

 

2017

2018

2019

(to 28/2/2019)

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

370

347

62

State Pension (Contributory)

408

309

52

State Pension (Transition)

3

Nil

Nil

Widow’s, Widower’s Pension (Contributory)

45

38

1

Death Benefit

Nil

1

Nil

Bereavement Grant

1

1

Nil

Jobseeker's Allowance - Payments

1,676

1,570

254

Jobseeker’s Transitional

41

70

8

Jobseeker's Allowance - Means

1,504

1,380

202

One-Parent Family Payment

244

273

54

Widow / Widower’s Pension (Non-Contributory)

23

18

1

Deserted Wife's Allowance

1

1

Nil

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

1,302

859

144

Farm Assist

130

84

18

Pre-Retirement Allowance

2

Nil

Nil

Jobseeker's Benefit

545

610

109

Deserted Wife's Benefit

7

8

1

Maternity Benefit

84

40

4

Paternity Benefit

16

14

1

Adoptive Benefit

2

1

Nil

Treatment Benefits

1

2

Nil

Partial Capacity Benefit

38

75

26

Disability Allowance

5,077

5,200

1,040

Blind Pension

19

12

1

Carer's Allowance

3,200

2,902

639

Domiciliary Care Allowance

1,199

1,432

258

Carer’s Support Grant

164

126

23

Illness Benefit

443

581

199

Injury Benefit

51

44

7

Invalidity Pension

1,381

1,387

355

Disablement Benefit

347

330

73

Incapacity Supplement

7

7

Nil

Medical Care

2

2

Nil

Carer's Benefit

110

162

40

Child Benefit

473

485

105

Working Family Payment*

477

290

219

Back To Work Family Dividend

43

43

6

Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)

16

8

2

Guardian's Payment (Contributory)

34

22

1

Widowed Parent Grant

6

1

1

Insurability Of Employment

132

86

6

Liable Relative

9

4

1

Recoverable Benefits & Assistance

25

29

1

TOTAL – ALL APPEALS

19,658

18,854

3,914

* Previously called Family Income Supplement

Outcome of Appeals by Category 2017

 

Allowed

By Appeals Officers

Partially Allowed By Appeals Officers

Revised DO/DP Decision

Disallowed By

Appeals Officers

Withdrawn

Total

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

75

21.9%

34

9.9%

78

22.7%

128

37.3%

28

8.2%

343

State Pension (Contributory)

35

9.9%

12

3.4%

76

21.5%

218

61.6%

13

3.7%

354

State Pension (Transition)

1

33.3%

Nil

 

Nil

2

66.7%

Nil

 

 3

Widow’s / Widower’s Pension (Contributory)

8

25.8%

Nil

 

7

22.6%

15

48.4%

1

3.2%

31

Death Benefit

Nil

Nil

 

Nil

1

100.0%

Nil

     

1

Bereavement Grant

1

100.0%

Nil

 

Nil

Nil

 

Nil

1

Jobseeker’s Allowance - Payments

349

22.2%

66

4.2%

309

19.6%

665

42.3%

184

11.7%

1,573

Jobseeker’s Transitional

10

27.0%

4

10.8%

10

27.0%

6

16.2%

7

18.9%

37

Jobseeker’s Allowance - Means

187

12.9%

82

5.6%

264

18.2%

708

48.7%

212

14.6%

1,453

One-Parent Family Payment

67

26.1%

19

7.4%

54

21.0%

67

26.1%

50

19.5%

257

Widow’s / Widower’s Pension (Non-Contributory)

7

30.4%

4

17.4%

3

13.0%

9

39.1%

Nil

23

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

304

22.5%

34

2.5%

229

17.0%

602

44.6%

180

13.3%

1,349

Farm Assist

22

15.5%

18

12.7%

28

19.7%

60

42.3%

14

9.9%

142

Pre-Retirement Allowance

Nil

Nil

1

100.0%

Nil

 

Nil

1

Jobseeker’s Benefit

83

17.3%

21

4.4%

117

24.4%

206

43.0%

52

10.9%

  479

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

2

40.0%

1

20.0%

Nil

 

2

40.0%

Nil

 

5

Maternity Benefit

10

14.1%

3

4.2%

8

11.3%

49

69.0%

1

1.4%

71

Paternity Benefit

1

12.5%

Nil     

3

37.5%

3

37.5%

1

12.5%

8

Adoptive Benefit

Nil

Nil

Nil

2

100.0%

Nil

2

Treatment Benefits

Nil

Nil

Nil

1

100.0%

Nil

1

Partial Capacity Benefit

15

33.3%

1

2.2%

11

24.4%

14

31.1%

4

8.9%

45

Disability Allowance

2,975

60.3%

70

1.4%

563

11.4%

1,211

24.5%

115

2.3%

4,934

Blind Pension

1

6.7%

1

6.7%

3

20.0%

7

46.7%

3

20.0%

15

Carer’s Allowance

1,204

35.2%

161

4.7%

780

22.8%

1,199

35.1%

72

2.1%

3,416

Domiciliary Care Allowance

297

37.1%

10

1.2%

343

42.8%

135

16.9%

16

2.0%

801

Carer’s Support Grant

35

22.6%

2

1.3%

45

29.0%

72

46.5%

1

0.6%

155

Illness Benefit

118

23.0%

8

1.6%

140

27.2%

189

36.8%

59

11.5%

514

Injury Benefit

3

7.9%

Nil

 

2

5.3%

27

71.1%

6

15.8%

38

Invalidity Pension

365

27.1%

7

0.5%

691

51.3%

262

19.4%

23

1.7%

1,348

Disablement Benefit

86

34.4%

19

7.6%

30

12.0%

109

43.6%

6

2.4%

250

Incapacity Supplement

3

30.0%

1

10.0%

3

30.0%

3

30.0%

Nil

 

10

Medical Care

Nil

 

Nil

 

1

50.0%

1

50.0%

Nil

 

2

Carer’s Benefit

23

22.1%

2

1.9%

39

37.5%

37

35.6%

3

2.9%

104

Child Benefit

 68

15.5%

23

5.3%

154

35.2%

178

40.6%

15

3.4%

438

Family Income Supplement

76

15.1%

15

3.0%

267

53.1%

130

25.8%

15

3.0%

503

Back To Work Family Dividend

7

17.1%

Nil

 

4

9.8%

25

61.0%

5

12.2%

41

Guardian’s Payment   (Non-Contributory)

5

33.3%

1

6.7%

2

13.3%

7

46.7%

Nil

15

Guardian’s Payment   (Contributory)

13

39.4%

2

6.1%

4

12.1%

14

42.4%

Nil

 

33

Widowed Parent Grant

Nil     

Nil

     

Nil

2

100.0%

Nil     

2

Insurability

34

24.5%

4

2.9%

11

7.9%

37

26.6%

53

38.1%

139

Liable Relatives

Nil

     

4

23.5%

Nil

 

11

64.7%

2

11.8%

17

Recoverable Benefits & Assistance

3

11.5%

Nil

3

11.5%

20

76.9%

Nil

 

26

TOTAL  APPEALS

6,493

34.2%

629

3.3%

4,283

22.6%

6,434

33.9%

1,141

6.0%

18,980

 

Outcome of Appeals by Category 2018

 

Allowed By Appeals Officers

Partially Allowed By Appeals Officers

Revised DO/DP Decision

Disallowed By Appeals Officers

Withdrawn

Total

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

85

23.4%

29

8.0%

70

19.3%

144

39.7%

35

9.6%

363

State Pension (Contributory)

35

9.5%

9

2.5%

64

17.4%

244

66.5%

15

4.1%

367

Widow’s / Widower’s Pension (Contributory)

18

45.0%

Nil

2

5.0%

14

35.0%

6

15.0%

40

Death Benefit

Nil

Nil

 

Nil

1

100.0%

Nil

1

Bereavement Grant

Nil

Nil     

 

Nil

1

100.0%   

Nil

1

Jobseeker’s Allowance -   Payments

280

18.0%

99

6.4%

251

16.1%

785

50.4%

141

9.1%

1,556

Jobseeker’s Transitional

9

19.1%

5

10.6%

9

19.1%

18

38.3%

6

12.8%

47

Jobseeker’s Allowance - Means

150

10.4%

83

5.8%

194

13.5%

836

58.1%

176

12.2%

1,439

One-Parent Family Payment

47

20.4%

13

5.7%

46

20.0%

83

36.1%

41

17.8%

230

Widow’s/Widower’s Pension   (Non-Contributory)

4

23.5%

2

11.8%

Nil

10

58.8%

1

5.9%

17

Deserted Wife’s Allowance

1

100.0%

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

1

Supplementary Welfare   Allowance

258

24.6%

29

2.8%

179

17.1%

467

44.6%

114

10.9%

1,047

Farm Assist

14

11.7%

11

 9.2%

18

15.0%

 62

51.7%

15

12.5%

120

Pre-Retirement Allowance

1

50.0%

1

50.0%

Nil 

Nil

Nil

2

Jobseeker’s Benefit

109

18.3%

33

5.5%

129

21.6%

270

45.3%

55

9.2%

596

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

3

50.0%

Nil

 

Nil

 

3

50.0%

Nil

 

6

Maternity Benefit

6

11.1%

Nil

 

13

24.1%

34

63.0%

1

1.9%

54

Paternity Benefit

1

6.3%

1     

6.3%

Nil

 

14

87.5%

Nil

16

Treatment Benefits

Nil     

Nil     

Nil

Nil

2

100.0%

2

Partial Capacity Benefit

16

50.0%

Nil

2

6.3%

13

40.6%

1

3.1%

32

Disability Allowance

3,112

62.2%

99

2.0%

462

9.2%

1,256

25.1%

77

1.5%

5,006

Blind Pension

2

14.3%

2

14.3%

3

21.4%

6

42.9%

1

7.1%

14

Carer’s Allowance

1,047

38.6%

144

5.3%

440

16.2%

989

36.5%

90

3.3%

2,710

Domiciliary Care Allowance

686

43.6%

13

0.8%

590

37.5%

258

16.4%

25

1.6%

1,572

Carer’s Support Grant

28

20.0%

5

3.6%

35

25.0%

68

48.6%

4

2.9%

140

Illness Benefit

111

22.4%

11

2.2%

164

33.1%

182

36.8%

27

5.5%

495

Injury Benefit

10

21.3%

Nil

6

12.8%

29

61.7%

2

4.3%

47

Invalidity Pension

458

41.9%

8

0.7%

322

29.4%

273

25.0%

33

3.0%

1,094

Disablement Benefit

116

35.3%

18

5.5%

32

9.7%

158

48.0%

5

1.5%

329

Incapacity Supplement

4

80.0%

Nil

Nil

1

20.0%

Nil

5

Medical Care

Nil     

Nil     

 

Nil

 

1

100.0%

Nil

 

1

Carer’s Benefit

32

23.4%

4

2.9%

52

38.0%

46

33.6%

3

2.2%

137

Child Benefit

62

14.6%

18

4.2%

146

34.3%

179

42.0%

21

4.9%

426

Working Family Payment*

59

15.3%

18

4.7%

173

44.8%

116

30.1%

20

5.2%

386

Back To Work Family Dividend

4

8.5%

Nil

 

12

25.5%

26

55.3%

5

10.6%

47

Guardian’s Payment   (Non-Contributory)

1

11.1%

1

11.1%

2

22.2%

5

55.6%

Nil

     

9

Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

7

29.2%

1

4.2%

2

8.3%

14

58.3%

Nil

24

Widowed Parent Grant

Nil

Nil

 

1

20.0%

4

80.0%

Nil

5

Insurability

25

26.3%

3

3.2%

3

3.2%

51

53.7%

13

13.7%

95

Liable Relatives

Nil

 

Nil

1

20.0%

2

40.0%

2

40.0%

5

Recoverable Benefits &   Assistance

1

4.3%

2

8.7%

2

8.7%

18

78.3%

Nil

23

TOTAL  APPEALS

6,802

36.8%

662

3.6%

3,425

18.5%

6,681

36.1%

937

5.1%

18,507

 

* Previously known as Family Income Supplement

Outcome of Appeals by Category 2019 (to 28 February 2019)

 

Allowed By Appeals Officers

Partially Allowed By Appeals Officers

Revised DO/DP Decision

Disallowed By

Appeals Officers

Withdrawn

Total

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

18

27.3%

5

7.6%

10

15.2%

27

40.9%

6

9.1%

66

State Pension (Contributory)

9

14.1%

5

7.8%

15

23.4%

32

50.0%

3

4.7%

64

Widows / Widowers’ Pension (Contributory)

1

16.7%

Nil

1

16.7%

4

66.7%

Nil

6

Bereavement Grant

Nil

Nil

Nil

1

100.0%

Nil

1

Jobseeker’s Allowance -   Payments

55

18.0%

16

5.2%

33

10.8%

185

60.5%

17

5.6%

306

Jobseeker’s Transitional

3

14.3%

1

4.8%

1

4.8%

15

71.4%

1

4.8%

21

Jobseeker’s Allowance - Means

32

12.5%

8

3.1%

15

5.8%

174

67.7%

28

10.9%

257

One-Parent Family Payment

14

28.6%

3

6.1%

4

8.2%

25

51.0%

3

6.1%

49

Widows / Widowers’ Pension (Non-Contributory)

Nil

Nil

Nil

1

100.0%

Nil

1

Deserted Wife’s Allowance

1

100.0%

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

1

Supplementary Welfare   Allowance

26

20.5%

5

3.9%

11

8.7%

77

60.6%

8

6.3%

127

Farm Assist

3

21.4%

4

28.6%

2

14.3%

5

35.7%

Nil

14

Jobseeker’s Benefit

18

21.7%

4

4.8%

11

13.3%

45

54.2%

5

6.0%

83

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

2

100.0%

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

2

Maternity Benefit

3

27.3%

Nil

1

9.1%

7

63.6%

Nil

11

Paternity Benefit

Nil

Nil

Nil

2

100.0%

Nil

2

Partial Capacity Benefit

3

33.3%

Nil

Nil

4

44.4%

2

22.2%

9

Disability Allowance

673

58.7%

16

1.4%

101

8.8%

337

29.4%

19

1.7%

1,146

Blind Pension

Nil

Nil

1

33.3%

2

66.7%

Nil

3

Carer’s Allowance

125

28.2%

30

6.8%

79

17.8%

183

41.3%

26

5.9%

443

Domiciliary Care Allowance

146

48.5%

2

0.7%

89

29.6%

59

19.6%

5

1.7%

301

Carer’s Support Grant

3

13.6%

3

13.6%

1

4.5%

14

63.6%

1

4.5%

22

Illness Benefit

19

13.0%

2

1.4%

89

61.0%

33

22.6%

3

2.1%

146

Injury Benefit

1

10.0%

Nil

4

40.0%

5

50.0%

Nil

10

Invalidity Pension

102

41.3%

6

2.4%

83

33.6%

51

20.6%

5

2.0%

247

Disablement Benefit

21

36.2%

5

8.6%

3

5.2%

29

50.0%

Nil

58

Incapacity Supplement

Nil

Nil

Nil

1

100.0%

Nil

1

Carer’s Benefit

13

40.6%

Nil

6

18.8%

9

28.1%

4

12.5%

32

Child Benefit

16

15.1%

4

3.8%

23

21.7%

59

55.7%

4

3.8%

106

Working Family Payment*

8

10.7%

3

4.0%

43

57.3%

19

25.3%

2

2.7%

75

Back To Work Family Dividend

1

14.3%

Nil

Nil

5

71.4%

1

14.3%

7

Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)

Nil

Nil

Nil

1

100.0%

Nil

1

Guardian’s Payment   (Contributory)

Nil

Nil

1

25.0%

2

50.0%

1

25.0%

4

Insurability

6

27.3%

Nil

1

4.5%

11

50.0%

4

18.2%

22

Liable Relatives

Nil

Nil

Nil

1

50.0%

1

50.0%

2

Recoverable Benefits &   Assistance

Nil

1

10.0%

Nil

9

90.0%

Nil

10

TOTAL APPEALS

1,322

36.2%

123

3.4%

628

17.2%

1,434

39.2%

149

4.1%

3,656

 

* Previously known as Family Income Supplement