Departmental Data

Questions (1306)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1306. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of complaints submitted to her Department in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of appeals made with respect to the outcome of such complaints; the number referred to the Office of the Ombudsman; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13780/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to providing the highest quality of service at all times.  The scale of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is very significant; it deals with over 70 separate schemes and services. In 2017 it processed 82.2 million individual payments, with an average of 1.6 million weekly social welfare payments being made every single week. At all times, the Department strives to provide a high quality service. Our Service Charter and Action Plan sets out the commitments and standard of service that customers can expect when interacting with the Department.

We have a dedicated Customer Service Unit that receives and processes a wide range of feedback from customers on their experiences with the Department. The number of complaints the Unit recorded in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 is outlined in Table 1.

The Department does not have any access to data on the number of complaints which are progressed to the Office of the Ombudsman.  

Number of Complaints received : (Table 1)

Table. 1

Number of complaints recorded in the year 2017 and 2018, and year to date to 20 March 2019.

Year

Range

Total

2017

January to December

1,045

2018

January to December

1,808

2019

January to March, 20

400

I trust this answers the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Payments

Questions (1307)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1307. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when disability allowance arrears will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13797/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance (DA) with effect from 29 August 2018.  A letter issued to this gentleman informing him of this on 5 December 2018.

Arrears of payment due have been calculated and issued to the person concerned on 15 March 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (1308)

Niall Collins

Question:

1308. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will review correspondence (details supplied); her views on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13802/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The matter raised by the Deputy refers to a transaction price between a private employer and a recruitment agency of which my Department has no involvement. My Department has no contract with FRS Recruitment and is therefore not in a position to comment on the issue of the specific transaction between the private employer and the recruitment agency.

The Deputy mentions a referral from my Department to the company in question; I would invite the Deputy to supply additional detail I will have the matter further examined.

Pensions Data

Questions (1309)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

1309. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of reviews conducted and completed to date in counties Roscommon and Galway relating to the changes made to the contributory pension in 2012; the number of outstanding reviews that remain to be conducted in the counties in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13805/19]

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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 receives 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, allows 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.

Illness Benefit Applications

Questions (1310)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1310. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on an application for illness benefit by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13809/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim from the person concerned has been processed and all arrears due to him have been issued. 

A payment of  €327.60 issued to his bank account on the 19th March 2019 paying him for the full period of his claim from 22nd February 2019 to 11th March 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Pensions Data

Questions (1311)

Brian Stanley

Question:

1311. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the progress on the reviews of the entitlements to contributory pensions for those born after 1 September 1946; and when same will be completed and the revised rate issued. [13833/19]

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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 receives 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, allows 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.

Jobseeker's Benefit Appeals

Questions (1312)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

1312. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a rescheduled hearing will take place in respect of a jobseeker's benefit appeal in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13836/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an Appeals Officer has rescheduled the oral hearing of this case for 23rd April 2019.  The person concerned will shortly be notified of the arrangements for the 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.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (1313)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1313. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13839/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

My Department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on 8 January 2019. 

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that although a certain level of care was being provided the level involved did not amount to full-time care.

The person concerned was notified on 11 February 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of their right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of this decision and submitted additional evidence in support of their application.

The person concerned contacted the Department regarding their review on 5 March 2019 requesting additional time in order to submit further evidence in support of their claim.

When the evidence is submitted and the review is complete, they will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (1314)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

1314. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an appeal for carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13840/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

An application for carer's allowance (CA) was received from the person concerned on 13 June 2018.

It is a condition for receipt of a CA that the person being cared for must have such disability that 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.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that this evidence did not indicate that the requirement for full-time care was satisfied.

The person concerned was notified on 23 October 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 in November 2018. The Department was notified also in December 2018 that the person concerned had appealed the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO).  

The outcome of the review is that the original decision was confirmed. On 22 January 2019 the person concerned was notified of the outcome.

A submission in support of the decision is being prepared and will shortly be forwarded along with the file to the SWAO for determination.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Questions (1315, 1316)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1315. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) did not receive a full illness benefit payment recently; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13856/19]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

1316. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) did not receive a full illness benefit payment for a week in December 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13857/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1315 and 1316 together.

The person concerned has been awarded Illness Benefit at the maximum rate of €198 per week and should continue to submit medical certification from his doctor for the period he is absent from work due to illness. 

The person concerned received a payment of €132 for the period 31st December 2018 to 3rd January 2019, which was the date on the medical certificate submitted. The Department received a further certificate on the 9th January 2019, for the period 4th January to 10th January 2019 and his next payment of €198 was issued to him.

The same issue arose in respect of the person concerned on the 8th March when a payment of €132 issued for the period 8th March to 12th March, which was the date on the medical certificate submitted. The Department received a further certificate on the 11th March 2019 and the remaining €66 for that week issued to him.

The claim from the person concerned is currently paid up to date and he is medically certified until the 4th April 2019.  As payment to him is due each Friday, he should ensure that his medical certificate covers the period from Friday to the following Thursday each week. This ensures that he receives the full rate of Illness Benefit on a weekly basis. 

 I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Appeals

Questions (1317)

Denis Naughten

Question:

1317. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for the delay in forwarding the file of a person (details supplied) to the social welfare appeals office; when this file will be forwarded to the office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13858/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned made an application for Illness Benefit in 2018 seeking entitlement to Illness Benefit from a period some years earlier. Illness Benefit claims received after 6 weeks of becoming ill are considered late claims.

In advance of sending the person's Illness Benefit claims to the Social Welfare Appeals Office a review was undertaken of the case by another  deciding office to assess if the decision could be revised based on the appeals information before sending to appease. The file has now been sent to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for decision.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy. 

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (1318)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1318. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position with regard to an application for disability allowance and or disability benefit in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13862/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 24 January 2019. Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was disallowed on medical grounds as it was decided that they were not substantially restricted in taking up employment.

The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 20 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).

The Department administers the illness benefit (IB) scheme to those customers who cannot work because they are sick or ill provided they are covered by the appropriate class of social insurance (PRSI) and satisfy the PRSI conditions.

The Department has not received a recent application for IB from the person concerned. If the person concerned wishes to claim IB she should visit her local GP to receive a medical certificate (Med 1) and an application form (IB1) and submit these to the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (1319)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1319. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an invalidity pension review for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13875/19]

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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 from the lady concerned on 03 September 2018.  Her claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on 19 November 2018 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review or appeal.

The lady concerned requested a review of this decision and submitted further medical evidence in support of her request. Following a review of all the information available it has been decided that there is no change to the original decision.  She was notified on 22 March 2019 of the outcome of the review.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Questions (1320)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1320. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a disability allowance payment ceased for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13899/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Except in certain exceptional circumstances, disability allowance (DA) is not payable for any period in respect of which the claimant is resident outside of the state. On an administrative basis, DA allows for two weeks holiday entitlement in any twelve month period.

The person concerned was disallowed DA with effect from 6 December 2017 on the grounds that they were not resident in the State. He was notified of this decision and advised of his right to a review and appeal. No such request was received in this case.

I confirm that my Department received an application for DA from this gentleman on 12 February 2019. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (1321)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

1321. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13900/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I confirm that the person concerned requested a review of the decision on their application for disability allowance (DA) and that this request was received by the Department on 6 December 2018. 

The matter has been referred to a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI) for a report on the person’s means and circumstances.  Once the SWI has completed their report, a decision will be made and this lady will be notified directly of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (1322)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1322. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a person (details supplied) will receive a disability allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14023/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I can confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 1 March 2019. 

On 21 March 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on her eligibility.  On receipt of this information a decision will be made on her DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Questions (1323, 1326, 1328)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1323. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to address matters in regard to disability allowance while abroad on an internship (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14050/19]

View answer

John Brassil

Question:

1326. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if correspondence from a person (details supplied) will be examined with a view to allowing for payment of disability allowance to be continued for the term of the traineeship; if the rules and regulations of the disability allowance will be adjusted to include training programmes and opportunities that may arise abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14094/19]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

1328. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability payment for a person (details supplied) can be transferred; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14112/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1323, 1326 and 1328 together.

In order to qualify for disability allowance (DA), a person must be aged between 16 and 66, satisfy a medical and means test and be habitually resident in the state. The EU provides common rules to protect a person’s social security rights when moving within the EU. However, these social security coordination rules do not replace national systems with a single European one. All EU countries are free to decide who is to be insured under their legislation, which benefits are granted and under what conditions. While the EU rules provide that social security benefits can be exported in certain instances, these exportability rules generally do not apply to non-contributory benefits such as DA.

It is only in specific and exceptional circumstances that the payment of DA may continue on an administrative basis when a person is resident outside of the State. One of these two circumstances is where a person is in receipt of Back to Education Allowance and part of their course of study takes place abroad. The other is where a person is receiving medical treatment abroad which is not available within the State and where that treatment is approved by the Health Services Executive (HSE). The Department, on an administrative basis, may decide to allow payment of DA to continue while a person is outside the State where application is made in advance and the person demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Department that they satisfy one of the two specified exceptional reasons for absence.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Questions (1324)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

1324. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for rent allowance by a person (details supplied); and when they can expect a decision on their case. [14062/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned’s Rent Supplement application is under consideration and it is expected that he will receive a decision on his application within the next 5 working days.

The person concerned was advised that he may have a long-term housing need as determined by Dublin City Council, and that he should apply for the Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) Scheme in the first instance.  It is the Department's understanding that he was referred to HAP on 26th February 2019. 

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Question No. 1326 answered with Question No. 1323.

Questions (1325)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1325. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if money awarded to a person due to a legal compensation case is considered as means (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14091/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides for the manner in which a person's means are assessed for social assistance schemes.  In summary, any income or capital, with certain exceptions and disregards, belonging to the person and his / her spouse, partner or co-habitant is assessable for social welfare means testing purposes.

Social welfare legislation provides for the disregard of certain compensation awards when assessing the means of a person.  These disregards include, for example, all income derived from compensation awarded by the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and in relation to disability caused by Thalidomide.  Any payment made by the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board is also disregarded for social welfare means test purposes.  In addition, ex gratia payments made to women who were admitted to and worked in the Magdalen Laundries, or through the Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme, are also disregarded.

All compensation or court awards which are not specifically provided for in social welfare legislation are assessed in the normal manner.  However, most social assistance schemes (such as Jobseeker's Allowance and State Pension Non-Contributory) have a capital disregard of €20,000.  In the case of Disability Allowance, the first €50,000 in capital is disregarded.

Any changes to the means assessment of social assistance schemes would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.

Question No. 1326 answered with Question No. 1323.