Invalidity Pension Applications

Questions (620)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

620. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an invalidity pension application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21375/19]

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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 for the gentleman concerned on 08 May 2019.  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.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (621)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

621. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an invalidity pension appeal by a person (details supplied). [21421/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 10th April 2019.  It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought.  When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal 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.

Widowed Parent Grant

Questions (622)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

622. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a spouse does not receive a widowed parent grant after the death of their partner in circumstances (details supplied). [21427/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Firstly may I take this opportunity to extend my condolences to the person concerned and his family on their recent bereavement.

The widowed or surviving civil partner grant is a once-off payment of €6000 and is available to widows, widowers or surviving civil partners who have one or more dependent children living with them at the date of death, or a widow or surviving civil partner whose child is born within 10 months of the date of death of her spouse or civil partner. The applicant must also qualify for certain Social Protection payments.

The widowed or surviving civil partner grant is different in nature to many payments, including the widowed or surviving civil partner’s pension, as it is a once off grant, paid at the time of a bereavement, and does not contribute to the ongoing costs of raising a child, beyond the immediate period of the bereavement.

The reason a spouse does not receive a widowed or surviving civil partner grant in the circumstances outlined by the Deputy is that the person has not entered into marriage or a civil partnership with the person they were co-habiting with. Entering into a marriage or civil partnership is a legal act, which confers both rights and obligations on both parties that do not exist in law between co-habiting couples. 

The legal context governing relationships such as marriage is regulated by the Minister for Justice and Equality. Aside from the wider legal issues regarding the status of marriage and civil partnerships, which is a much broader policy area than its implications under the remit of my department, extending the current provisions to people who have not undertaken equivalent legal obligations would carry significant costs, and would also raise significant issues about criteria if it were to be based upon co-habitation.

Therefore any decision to extend the qualifying criteria for the widowed or surviving civil partner grant would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations, as well as legal issues that may arise.

Under the supplementary allowance scheme, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet from their weekly income, which may include help with bereavement expenses.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (623)

John McGuinness

Question:

623. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied) which is now under appeal will be expedited and approved; and if an oral hearing will be granted to assist an early outcome. [21440/19]

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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 12th December 2018, who will, in the near future, 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 has also advised me that your request for an oral hearing, will be brought to the attention of the Appeals Officer dealing with this case. 

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.

Public Services Card

Questions (624)

Michael McGrath

Question:

624. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the legal basis of the Public Services Card; her views on the concerns persons may have in relation to data protection; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21453/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The legal basis for the Public Services Card (PSC) can be found in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, as amended.

Section 263 of that Act provides that a PSC can be issued, once the person's identity has been authenticated. The same section also provides for the information that can be inscribed on the PSC and for the information that can be stored electronically on the PSC.

The PSC is designed and intended to replace other cards within the public sector, such as the free travel pass and the social services card of this Department, and to make it easy for providers of public services to verify the identity of customers.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on 25th May 2018. The Regulation and the Data Protection Acts confer rights on individuals in relation to the privacy of their personal data as well as responsibilities on those persons holding and processing such data. 

My Department takes its responsibilities in relation to data protection very seriously and is committed to protecting the rights and privacy of individuals in accordance with both European Union and Irish data protection legislation. In accordance with the GDPR, my Department has a Data Protection Officer (DPO) supported by a fully resourced Data Protection Unit.

My Department's Privacy Statement has a section on the personal data that we  collect and process and can be viewed on the www.welfare.ie website.  It also gives contact details for the Data Protection Officer (DPO).

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (625)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

625. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the method of calculation conducted in the 2012 pension review of a person (details supplied); if this method of calculation differs from other persons in the pension review process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21517/19]

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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.

The same methodology applies to all claimants where modified insurance is used in their State pension (contributory) entitlement calculation.

As there are mixed social insurance contributions in the case of the person concerned, the rate of pension is calculated using a two step process.  Firstly, all the person's social insurance contributions, HomeCaring Periods and credited contributions are treated as if they were full-rate Irish contributions to establish their theoretical rate of pension.  Next, the actual rate of pension is determined by the percentage of their record represented by full rate social insurance contributions (including their HomeCaring periods).  Following review,  using this two steps process, the weekly rate of pension of the person concerned increased to €207.20, or 83.41% of the maximum rate of state pension contributory.

A review outcome letter was sent to the person concerned outlining their increase in rate and included a copy of their social insurance record.  Arrears of payment backdated to 30 March 2018 have also been paid. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (626)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

626. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the 2012 pension review; the number of persons who had their pension entitlement reviewed; the numbers awaiting a review; the number of persons issued with a high rate of pension; the number of persons whose pension has remained unchanged in tabular form; if concerns have been raised regarding persons being excluded from the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21520/19]

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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 are processed based on information already held by my Department.  Where there are unexplained gap periods in an individual's social insurance record, a written request for information is issued.  Over 44,000 requests for information have been issued to date.  

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.  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 person's 66th birthday if later.  Where a person's rate does not increase following review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment. 

Outcomes will continue to issue to individuals as soon as their reviews are completed.  It will take a number of months to complete the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records.  This work will continue until all identified pensioners have received their review outcome.   

As at 16 May 2019,  42,775 reviews, representing almost half of all identified for review , have been completed.  Of these,  21,481 pensioners received an increase in their rate of pension and 21,294 are remaining on their existing rate of payment.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (627)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

627. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount spent in fees to companies (details supplied) by her Department in each of the years 2011 to 2018. [21579/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The information requested is currently being complied and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Questions (628)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

628. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a carer’s benefit application by a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21632/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment, made to a person 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.

Before a decision can be made on entitlement to CARB, evidence must be provided in respect of the care recipient’s care requirement, the level of care the carer provides, the carer’s hours of employment and their PRSI record.  

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 28 February 2019.

Additional information in relation to the person’s employment was requested by a deciding officer on 15 May 2019.

Once the information is received the application will be processed without delay and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy .

Social Welfare Payments Administration

Questions (629)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

629. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 1413 of 8 May 2019, if the level of funding or support or lack thereof has been considered by her Department (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21657/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Section 338 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended), provides that where a person has received moneys from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, which he or she is not entitled to receive, the person shall be liable to repay on demand a sum not exceeding the amount of the money received.

It is the policy of this Department not to cause undue hardship to the debt holder, having regard to their circumstances.  If the person concerned is not in a position to discharge this debt at present, she should as previously advised, contact LO-Call number: 1890 500 000 with any enquiries or representation relating to her outstanding debt. 

Additionally, as outlined in Question No. 1413, it is open to the person concerned to contact her local Intreo Centre where a member of staff will be in a position to assist her in determining her current entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Questions (630)

Jack Chambers

Question:

630. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to engage with community employment supervisors to find a satisfactory pathway to address the pension issues for such supervisors and assistant supervisors based on the 2008 Labour Court recommendation and in view of the Fianna Fáil motion on this issue which was passed by Dáil Éireann in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21757/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Firstly, I am delighted to note that the industrial action due to take place has been suspended following recent discussions I and officials held with Forsa and SIPTU. The very many services provided by CE supervisors, assistant supervisors and every participant in community employment schemes in rural and urban areas are extremely valuable to every town and village in the country. All of these schemes are well embedded in community areas nationally and they are engaged in significant levels of service support and delivery.

Engagement will now commence between the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the unions over the next number of months. This provides an opportunity to address issues of concern to CE Supervisors. The date of the next meeting has been agreed with all parties with engagement commencing this week.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (631)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

631. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) is waiting on a decision on a carer's allowance application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21804/19]

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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.

Means are any income belonging to the carer and their spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant, property, (except their own home) or an asset that could bring in money or provide them with an income, for example occupational pensions, or pensions or benefits from another country. 

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 17 January 2019.

As the applicant is self –employed hairdresser, the matter was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) on 11 March 2019 to assess all means and hours employed per week, and confirm that all the conditions for receipt of CA are satisfied.

Once the SWI has reported, a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Superannuation Schemes

Questions (632, 633)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

632. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will establish an independent review group within her Department to assess the level and impact of cuts suffered by all categories of members in a scheme (details supplied) due to changes in legislation and in particular the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2014 and subsequent reductions in members benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21836/19]

View answer

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

633. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the substantial cuts imposed on members of a scheme (details supplied) in advance of the sale of the stake of the State in a company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21840/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 632 and 633 together.

I am aware of the reduction in pension benefits for members of the IASS pension scheme.  However, the Deputy will appreciate that I cannot intervene in, or comment on, the pension arrangements applying to a particular pension scheme as such arrangements are a matter for the pension scheme trustees, the companies participating in the scheme, the scheme members and the Pensions Authority.

As the Deputy is aware, there is currently a case before the Courts in relation to the IASS pension scheme.  Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on this matter.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (634)

Joe Carey

Question:

634. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21860/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The gentleman referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 21 February 2019.  Payment will issue to his nominated post office on 06 June 2019.  Any arrears due from 21 February 2019 to 05 June 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible.  The gentleman in question was notified of this decision on 20 May 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications

Questions (635)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

635. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an illness benefit application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21925/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department received an application for Illness Benefit from the person concerned on the 1st April 2019.

However, the person concerned is currently a qualified adult on her partner's Jobseeker's Allowance claim.  This means that her partner is in receipt of a qualified adult allowance in respect of her.

The monetary difference between this allowance and her Illness Benefit entitlement is currently being calculated. Once completed, her Illness Benefit claim will be awarded and payment will issue to her.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Postal Services

Questions (636)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

636. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department will accept the address point service offered by An Post which is given to homeless persons for use in the context of claims; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21937/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is aware of the recent introduction of the Address Point service by An Post, which provides a free personal address and mail collection service for people who are homeless. The Address Point service generates a personal address based on the person’s choice of local post office, which will be their mail collection point and  does not use include the words “Post Office”.  My Department accepts this service offered by An Post to homeless persons for the purposes of the SAFE registration process and the issuing of a Public Services Card.

Given the recent introduction of the service, I am aware that a small number of claims, which include such an address, have been received and such claims were authorised, once the conditions for payment were satisfied.

If the Deputy is aware of a case where the use of the An Post Address Point service is at issue in relation to a claim submitted to my Department, I would be grateful if the details of the case were provided.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (637)

Joe Carey

Question:

637. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position in relation to a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21967/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Disability allowance (DA) is subject to periodic reviews. This lady's entitlement was recently reviewed and it was established that she no longer satisfies the medical condition for receipt of DA. The person concerned was notified of this on 24 April 2019.

Further medical evidence was received and a review of this decision was carried out.  The original decision was upheld and the person concerned was notified in writing on 3 May 2019.  She was also advised of her right to appeal this decision to the independent social welfare appeals office. No request for an appeal has been received.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the deputy.

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Appeals

Questions (638)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

638. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied) for a non-contributory old age pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21983/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 7 January 2019   It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection  These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 15 January 2019 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on 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.