Thursday, 30 May 2019

Questions (157)

Bernard Durkan


157. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the extent to which recovery of overpayments is set at a level within the ability of the applicant to meet same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23130/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Effective debt management is a key part of the overall control work of the Department. Ensuring that persons who have been overpaid make an on-going contribution to the recovery of their debts is a key element of this work.

Overpayments of social welfare assistance and benefit payments arise as a consequence of decisions made under the relevant sections of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended). Where an overpayment is raised, the Department is obligated to make every effort to recover sums overpaid.

As part of the process of decision-making and assessing an overpayment, the Department is required and is willing to engage with the customer to agree a suitable rate of repayment. In each case, the customer must be given an opportunity to clarify any relevant matters.

Overpayments may be recovered through regular periodic payments, deduction from the customer's on-going benefit payments or by way of a single payment covering the full amount owed.

The Social Welfare Act 2012 introduced a provision that allows the Department, in the absence of engagement by the debtor, to apply a deduction of up to 15% of the weekly personal rate of assistance or benefit payable to a customer for the purposes of recovering a debt. The deduction applies to the person’s personal rate only and does not affect payment of any adult or child dependent allowances, or any other allowances that are in payment.

Customer may, at any time, also seek to review the terms of any recovery arrangement(s) they have in place with the Department.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.