Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (928)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

928. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal in relation to carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24084/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence including that adduced at the oral hearing held on 27 March 2019, decided to disallow the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer's decision.

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 Benefit Applications

Questions (929)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

929. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application in relation to a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24085/19]

View answer

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.

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, before a decision can be made on entitlement to carer’s benefit (CARB).

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 27 March 2019.

Additional information in relation to the person’s employment was requested by a deciding officer on 6 June 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.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (930)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

930. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application for disability allowance will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24107/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I confirm that a request for a review of his disability allowance (DA) was received from this gentleman by the Department on 8 March 2019. The application was referred to a social welfare inspector (SWI) for a report on the person’s means and circumstances.

A review of this gentleman's DA was carried out on 7 June 2019 and he was notified of the outcome directly in writing. Arrears of allowance due also issued to the person concerned on 7 June 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications Data

Questions (931)

Pat Casey

Question:

931. Deputy Pat Casey asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of invalidity pension applications received in 2018 and to date in 2019; and the number of applications that have been approved or refused. [24112/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The following table shows the number of invalidity pension claims received, approved and refused for periods requested.

2019 (YTD)

2018

No of applications received

4,880

10,967

* Claims awarded

3,467

7,334

Claims disallowed

1,928

4,601

Claims withdrawn

499

1,157

*Please note that the statistics in relation to awarded cases include cases in the disallowed category which were subsequently awarded following a review or a successful appeal.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (932)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

932. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae 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. [24157/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to hold an oral hearing in this case on 25th June 2019. The person concerned has been 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.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (933)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

933. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a domiciliary care allowance for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24166/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred on 28th May 2019 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 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.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (934)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

934. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a domiciliary care allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24167/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred on 28th May 2019 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 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.

State Pension (Contributory) Data

Questions (935)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

935. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the savings made from 2013 to 2018 and the estimated full year savings in 2019 arising from changes made to the calculation of the contributory pension in 2012, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24170/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

There were two changes to how the contributory state pension was calculated introduced in 2012.

First, in April 2012, the number of paid contributions required to qualify for a state pension (contributory) increased from 260 to 520. This change was signalled well in advance of its introduction. In 1993, "Developing the National Pension System - Final Report of the National Pensions Board” was published, and recommended that the number of paid contributions required to qualify for a contributory pension should be increased to 520 contributions, in recognition of the expansion of PRSI coverage over the decades. The enabling legislation was contained in Section 12 of the Social Welfare Act 1997, which provided for the implementation of the change in two stages, with the paid contribution requirement being standardised initially at 260 from 2002, and rising to 520 from April 2012, 15 years after its introduction in law.

Those who were affected by this change may or may not have an alternative State pension payment. Where they do not and they have made no claim for a state pension, it is not possible to state what the rate of that payment would have been, had there been no policy change.

The second change was introduced as part of Budget 2012. From September 2012, new rate bands for State pension (contributory) were introduced. These new rate bands more accurately reflect the social insurance history of a person and ensure that those who contribute more during a working life are likely to benefit more in retirement than those with less frequent contributions during working life.

Due to the interaction between these and other effects over the period from 2012, it is not possible to isolate the figures requested in tabular form. It has however been estimated that the savings to the Social Insurance Fund resulting from the change in rate bands was rising by roughly €10 million per annum, as they applied to new pensioners from September 2012, and that this would have reached some €60 to €80 million by 2018, based upon those paid in the relevant ratebands. However, the saving could be higher as some pensioners, as a result of this change, are alternatively paid State pension (non-contributory) at a higher rate than their SPC entitlement.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (936)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

936. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost in 2019 and projected cost in 2020, exclusive of arrears, of reassessing persons for entitlement to a contributory pension under the total contributions approach; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24171/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

On 23 January 2018, this Government agreed to a proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands to have their pension entitlement calculated on a Total Contributions Approach (TCA) basis, including provision for up to 20 years of a new home caring credit. The effect of this is that a post-2012 pensioner who has 20 years of HomeCaring periods can qualify for a maximum rate pension with just 20 years of paid contributions. Most pensioners with only 20 years contributions, whether qualifying under pre-2012 or post-2012 ratebands, could not qualify for a maximum rate pension under the Yearly Average system, unless they first entered insurable employment in their 40s, or later.

The TCA ensures that the totality of a person’s social insurance contributions, as opposed to the timing of them, determines what their final pension outcome will be. In particular it will benefit people whose work history includes an extended period of time outside the paid workplace raising families or in a full-time caring role. Crucially, unlike the current Homemakers scheme or earlier proposals for Homemakers Credits, HomeCaring Periods apply to periods both before and after 1994. This recognises that most people reaching pension age between 2012 and 2019, if they had taken a home caring break looking after young children, would most likely have done so before 1994.

This approach will make it easier for many post-2012 pensioners affected by the 2012 rate band changes to qualify for a higher rate of the State pension (contributory), particularly if they were absent from the workforce caring for children, or an older person with a care need.

Using figures provided by the Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund, my Department estimated that the cost of the interim TCA approach for those who reach State Pension Age in 2019 would be circa €54 million. The precise figure will depend upon a number of factors, including take-up of HomeCaring periods, and also the inflows from other payments, where a person has no existing SPC claim in the system, but may now find it more advantageous than their current payment.

At this stage, we do not have sufficient information to provide an estimate for 2020 costs, as the Department intends introducing further reform in this area, TCA 2020, within that timeframe.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals

Questions (937)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

937. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24174/19]

View answer

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 22nd January 2019. The Appeals Officer requested additional documentation from the person concerned on 7th May 2019 and is still awaiting this.

When the response from the person concerned has been received the Appeals Officer will 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 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.

State Pensions

Questions (938)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

938. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a pension by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24175/19]

View answer

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 13th May 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.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (939)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

939. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application for a disability allowance will be approved for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24185/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Based on the evidence supplied in support of their application for disability allowance (DA), this person’s application was disallowed on the grounds that the medical qualifying condition was not satisfied. They were notified in writing of this decision on 2 October 2017.

The person concerned requested an appeal and submitted additional medical evidence for consideration. The Department was notified by the social welfare appeals office (SWAO) on the 6 June 2019 that the appeal for the person in question has been successful. We will implement the Appeals Officers decision once my department receives the decision papers.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Data

Questions (940)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

940. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the increases provided to those who have to date had their entitlement to a contributory pension reviewed; the number to date that have received an increase by values (details supplied) in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24186/19]

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.

Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment is adjusted without delay and arrears paid, 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.

The detailed breakdown requested by the Deputy is not readily available, however, it should be noted that approximately 67% of cases, where increases were awarded, achieved the maximum personal rate State pension contributory. Based on an analysis of sample of cases where an increase was awarded, the best estimate at this stage is that 16% of those who received an increase received a weekly increase of over €30; 36% received an increase of between €20 - €30; 4% received an increase of between €15 and €20; 4% received an increase of between €10 and €15; 4% received an increase of between €5 and €10; 36% received an increase up to €5. Importantly, most of those who received less than €5.00 following their review achieved maximum personal contributory pension rate, which cannot be further improved upon.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Questions (941)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

941. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if there are circumstances under which a person may have an extension granted to the duration of their participation in a community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24200/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis. CE helps unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills.

The person referred to by the Deputy will have completed 3 years on CE on 5th July 2019. While on CE he undertook training in 360 Excavator Experienced Operator, Safe Pass, Hand Held Pesticide and is currently undertaking the First Aid Response training all of which should benefit him in his endeavours to secure full time sustainable employment.

On completion of his term on CE, Mr Trimble can apply for a Jobseekers payment and he will be supported through the Departments activation measures. Case officers will engage with him, agree a personal progression plan (PPP) and support him to avail of all reasonable employment opportunities offered to him.

State Pension (Contributory) Data

Questions (942)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

942. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons that have had their entitlement to a contributory pension reviewed to date that are now in receipt of the full rate of contributory pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24336/19]

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.

Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment is adjusted without delay and arrears paid, 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. The detailed breakdown requested by the Deputy is not readily available. However, based on an analysis of a sample of cases where increases were awarded as of 23 May 2019, the best estimate at this stage is approximately 67% achieved maximum personal rate State pension contributory. I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

River Basin Management Plans

Questions (943)

Mary Butler

Question:

943. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the surveys being carried out under the water framework directive in the south east of the country; the expected timeframe for surveys to be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23203/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018 – 2021 sets out the actions which Ireland will take over the period in order to improve the quality of our aquatic environment and meet the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive.

The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) is a shared service working with local authorities and State agencies to develop and implement the River Basin Management Plan. Their work involves the assessment of water bodies to understand any issues affecting water quality. Working with local communities, landowners, business owners and public bodies, the Programme team develops relevant and workable solutions to identified issues.

The Plan lists 190 Priority Areas for Action (PAA) around which LAWPRO’s work is concentrated. Thirty-five of these areas are located in the South East Region. LAWPRO is currently carrying out local catchment assessments in nine of these areas as follows:

Athy stream

Clodiagh (Portlaw)

Dinin (South, Main and Muckalee channels)

Owveg (Nore)

Sow

Tay

Burren

Clashawley

Nuenna

These areas are all are tributaries of the Barrow, Suir, Nore and Slaney rivers and the assessment work is expected to conclude on each before December 2021.

Informing and working with local communities is an important part of LAWPRO’s work. Prior to commencing their assessments, LAWPRO organises a community information meeting to discuss the water body with local people and interest groups. These meetings are publicised via the placement of adverts in local newspapers, and the distribution of posters and leaflets. Local meetings are followed by farmer engagement events organised by advisors from the collaborative Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme, with the support of LAWPRO staff. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine issues letters of invitation to farmers within the PAA for these events.

LAWPRO catchment scientists analyse feedback from local communities and farmers along with scientific data from the EPA, local authorities and other bodies before designing a fieldwork plan to address gaps in their understanding of how water flows through the catchment and the local pressures on water quality in that area.

As part of their fieldwork, LAWPRO catchment scientists walk the riverbanks and take water samples to assess the condition of the river. Once the fieldwork is concluded and analysed, LAWPRO discuss the outcome of the assessment with the relevant implementing bodies or landowners and agree timelines for implementation of measures to improve water quality. The advisors from the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme will discuss any agricultural measures with the farmers. 

LAWPRO plan to carry out 101 detailed desk-studies, 87 community information meetings and conduct 75 catchment assessments nationally by December 2019. 

LAWPRO will produce a report for each Priority Area for Action and information will also be available on the www.catchments.ie website later in the summer.