Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2820)

Danny Healy-Rae


2820. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason additional funding is not allocated to the disability section in order that applications can be expedited in view of the fact the waiting times are perceived as unacceptable at present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33873/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to making decisions on all applications for benefits under its schemes as quickly as possible.

The processing time for individual Disability Allowance (DA) claims will vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the qualifying criteria, the person’s circumstances and the information that is provided in support of their claim. By their nature individual DA claims are complex; the Deciding Officers must consider the applicant’s medical condition and its impact on their ability to work, the applicant’s means and the applicant’s residency situation. In a significant number of cases additional information is required in order to make a decision. Because of this complexity these claims by their very nature take time to complete and require substantial consideration to ensure a full decision. The average processing time for a DA new application for the first six months of 2019 was 14 weeks.

People who are awaiting a decision on their DA application can and do access Supplementary Welfare Allowance payments via their local Community Welfare Service administered at Intreo Centres across the country. These regular weekly payments as well as once off Exceptional Needs Payments where appropriate ensure that people are not without a source of income while they wait for the processing of their DA application to be completed.

Like all Government departments and agencies, my Department is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget. The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the on-going need to respond to new increasing demands in a wide range of services. This is to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department.