Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1398)

Pearse Doherty


1398. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she has considered automatic transfer of entitlement to fuel allowance for those widowed in circumstances in which it was already determined their household income derives solely from their State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18531/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €630 each year) from October to April at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household.

There is no automatic entitlement to fuel allowance and to receive the payment a person must complete an application form. The fuel allowance is added to a recipient’s primary payment that they receive from my Department and if the recipient’s primary payment is stopped the fuel payment automatically stops as well.

While entitlement may have had previously been established in the case the Deputy is referring to, circumstances have now changed and if the surviving spouse is to receive the fuel allowance payment, they must, in accordance with the scheme rules, make an individual application for the payment so that their new circumstances can be examined to ensure that they still meet the criteria for the scheme.

While the household income may previously have been derived solely from the State pension, the change of circumstances may now entitle the surviving spouse to alternative or additional payments from my Department such as the Widows pension, the Telephone Support Allowance or the living alone increase. Therefore I would always encourage people to interact with my Department at such times to ensure they are receiving their correct entitlements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.