Child Benefit Applications

Questions (1031)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1031. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for child benefit by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44294/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Where an application for child benefit is made by a person who is not a parent of the child(ren) concerned the Department contacts the parents/guardians of the children for further information and confirmation (or otherwise) of the information provided in the application.

In this case, the required information has been requested from the relevant persons and the Department is awaiting their replies. Once this information comes to hand a decision will be made and issued to the person concerned.

I trust that this helps clarify the position.

Free Travel Scheme Eligibility

Questions (1032)

Robert Troy

Question:

1032. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the criteria for inclusion on the free travel companion pass scheme; and if there are circumstances in which a person who is not in receipt of a suitable payment can be provided with a pass due to medical circumstances. [44295/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approx. 953,000 customers with direct eligibility. In Budget 2019 the funding for the free travel scheme was increased by €5 million to a total of €95 million.

The Free Travel Companion Pass scheme was introduced in 1990 for persons who qualify for the Free Travel scheme and who, on account of their disability, are unable to travel alone. It enables a person 16 years of age or over to accompany the pass holder free of charge.

A free travel cardholder aged 66 or over may qualify for a companion pass if they are:

- aged 66 to 69 inclusive and are medically assessed as unfit to travel alone;

- aged 70 or over and are medically unfit to travel alone;

- receiving full-time care and attention from someone who is in receipt of Carer's Allowance from my Department;

- certified by either the Irish Wheelchair Association or by their GP as being a permanent wheelchair user.

A free travel cardholder aged under 66 may qualify for a companion pass if they are getting a qualifying payment and are:

- assessed as unfit to travel alone;

- certified by either the Irish Wheelchair Association or by their GP as being a permanent wheelchair user;

- receiving full-time care and attention from someone who is in receipt of Carer's Allowance from this Department;

- a widowed person / surviving civil partner aged between 60 and 65 years inclusive, whose late spouse / civil partner held a Free Travel Card from this Department, and who at the time of his / her death, resided with him / her on a permanent basis.

A person who is blind or severely visually impaired and satisfies the blindness condition for the Blind Pension or is registered as a blind person with either the National Council for the Blind of Ireland or the National League of the Blind of Ireland may qualify for a companion pass at any age. This is the only circumstance in which a person aged under 66 may receive a free travel companion pass while not in receipt of a qualifying payment from my Department.

Any decision to allow for discretionary travel passes would have significant costs implications for the free travel scheme and would need to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Applications

Questions (1033)

John McGuinness

Question:

1033. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason the fuel allowance was not approved in the case of a person (details supplied); and if the application will be reviewed and approved. [44308/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Fuel allowance is a means tested payment. All income, including private/occupational pensions and capital such as savings and investments are taken into account.

A single person, under age 80, can have €348.30 per week income (the equivalent of the maximum State Pension Contributory plus €100) and still qualify for fuel allowance. The person concerned applied for fuel allowance in September 2018. However I am advised that her application was disallowed as her means were in excess of this limit.

If the means of the person concerned have reduced, it is open to them to re-apply for fuel allowance and their entitlement will be re-examined. An application form has been issued to the person concerned.

Additionally, under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which customers are unable to meet out of their own resources and this may include exceptional heating costs. The person concerned may wish to contact the community welfare officer in their local Intreo Centre to have any possible entitlement examined.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (1034)

John McGuinness

Question:

1034. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a pension by a person (details supplied); if their pre-1979 record has been made available from PeoplePoint; if not, the reason for the delay; and if the pension due from February 2019 will be expedited. [44309/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned applied for State pension (contributory) on 28 February 2019. Their entitlement to this pension was examined based on their contribution history, including their Pre 1979 record which was made available to my Department. I am advised that the person concerned does not have the required 520 full-rate contributions to qualify for a standard State pension (contributory).

Provisions exist for the award of a mixed insurance pro rata state pension, where a person has periods of PRSI coverage from employment in the public or civil service. The person’s pension entitlement to this pension was determined under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

The pro rata pension entitlement of the person concerned was assessed as 67.21% of the maximum pension rate, based on their social insurance record of full-rate contributions and credits, modified rate contributions and credits, together with homecaring periods. This is the most financially beneficial rate of State pension (contributory) based on their individual circumstances and the correct rate of pension commensurate with their contribution history. They have been notified in writing of this decision on 29 October 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Eligibility

Questions (1035)

Robert Troy

Question:

1035. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) will have their FIS entitlement re-examined as a matter of urgency. [44320/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

WFP for the person concerned was renewed on 28 February 2019. At the date of renewal the person concerned had an entitlement to €0.65 per week. However once a person qualifies for WFP they are entitled to a minimum payment of €20 per week.

Once WFP is awarded the same weekly rate of payment applies for 52 weeks. This rate is not affected by any increase or decrease in income.

The person concerned may make a request to have their current claim closed and make a new application. This new application will be based on the circumstances for the person concerned at the time of application.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Medical Aids and Appliances Applications

Questions (1036)

Tom Neville

Question:

1036. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to a hearing aid under the treatment benefit scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44371/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is qualified for treatment benefits and will be entitled to a grant contribution towards the cost of hearing aids. She will receive a letter within the next few days advising her of the position and confirming her eligibility for medical appliance (hearing aid) benefit.

The Audiologist can claim the grant payment directly on-line once the hearing aids have been provided.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (1037)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1037. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied) will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44376/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I can confirm that my Department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 5 June 2019.

On 7 September 2019, the 20 September 2019 and the 23 October 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on her eligibility. On receipt of this information a decision will be made on her DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Insurance

Questions (1038)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1038. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if insurance contributions will be credited to farmers for pension purposes for the time they were in receipt of farm assist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44421/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Currently, PRSI credited contributions (credits) are awarded to former employees to cover gaps in social insurance where they are not in a position to pay PRSI contributions, for example during periods of unemployment or illness. Self-employed workers do not qualify for credits.

The Farm Assist scheme was introduced in 1999 to provide income support for low income farmers. It replaced the former Smallholders’ Unemployment Assistance payment. In line with the then existing arrangements for Unemployment Assistance (including Smallholders' Unemployment Assistance) and Pre-retirement Allowance, the non-welfare income of Farm Assist recipients was exempt from the payment of Class S PRSI for self-employed workers.

Recipients of Farm Assist who had previously paid Class S social insurance contributions had the option of paying voluntary contributions to maintain their social insurance record, provided they satisfied the qualifying conditions to do so. Since 1st January 2007, the exemption from Class S PRSI has been removed and those self-employed persons receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or Farm Assist are subject to Class S PRSI as self-employed contributors on their self-employed income, provided their annual income is €5,000 or more.

Any self-employed person, including farmers, with an annual income less than €5,000 can pay voluntary contributions to maintain their social insurance record for pensions purposes, once qualified to do so.

A person aged 66 or over with insufficient PRSI contributions to qualify for a full rate State Pension (Contributory) may claim a State Pension (Non-Contributory) if they have an income need. The current maximum weekly personal rate is €237, which is over 95% of the maximum State Pension (Contributory) rate. While it is means-tested, there are very significant disregards which are to the benefit of claimants, and a significant majority of such pensioners are paid at the full rate.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Eligibility

Questions (1039, 1040, 1045, 1046)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1039. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the action she plans to take to ameliorate the effects of increasing fuel costs and the increased carbon taxes for Travellers living in temporary accommodation, mobile homes and caravans due to the disproportionate heating costs they face and the effect this will have on their ability to keep warm for the 2019-2020 winter season and in line with the recommendation in the MABS report Addressing Energy Poverty Among Travellers Living in Mobile Homes and Trailers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44461/19]

View answer

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1040. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the fuel allowance to Traveller families that are officially sharing a bay in a halting site to assist them with their fuel costs in line with a recommendation of the MABS report Addressing Energy Poverty Among Travellers Living in Mobile Homes and Trailers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44462/19]

View answer

Bríd Smith

Question:

1045. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an increase will be made in the winter fuel allowance payment for Traveller families living in mobile homes or trailers. [44553/19]

View answer

Bríd Smith

Question:

1046. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the winter fuel payment will be extended to Traveller families that are officially sharing accommodation. [44554/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1039, 1040, 1045 and 1046 together.

The Fuel Allowance is currently a payment of €22.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €630 each year) from October to April, to over 372,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. It should be noted that only one allowance is paid per household.

My Department also pays an electricity or gas allowance under the household benefits scheme at an estimated cost of €188 million in 2019.

I am aware of the MABS report addressing energy poverty among travellers living in mobile homes and trailers and I have asked officials in my Department to examine the recommendations in the report in relation to the fuel allowance scheme.

Fuel Allowance is a household payment and can be paid when the residence is on an approved site (publically or privately owned) with planning permission for the caravan / mobile home. However, where someone lives in a residence which is without planning permission such as in the case where an additional mobile home or caravan is placed on a bay designed for single use, these 'additional' places of residence are not currently legally distinct households which impacts on their eligibility for Fuel Allowance.

In Budget 2020, I increased the Fuel Allowance payment by €2 to €24.50 per week. This is an increase of just under 9% and will increase the annual Fuel Allowance rate from €630 to €686, i.e., a €56 yearly increase. This increase follows on from a number of other improvements and increases made to the Fuel Allowance scheme in recent Budgets including an increase from €20 to €22.50 per week and the number of weeks the fuel allowance is paid for increasing from 26 to 27 and then to 28.

In addition, it is important to note that, while the Fuel Allowance increase will come into effect from the 6th January 2020, the carbon tax increase will not take effect until May 2020 for home heating fuels, giving such households additional headroom for its introduction.

The Fuel Allowance is intended to address income deficiency, not energy poverty. My colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, has the role of reducing energy poverty by implementing measures (administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)) to improve the energy efficiencies of Irish homes. In this respect, the Government Climate Action Plan commits to reviewing ways to improve how current energy poverty schemes can target those most in need. In this regard Budget 2020 is the first to put a major focus on climate action but has also ensured that the most vulnerable will be protected and supported to participate in the transition.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputies.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (1041)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1041. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied) will receive a decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44497/19]

View answer

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.

I confirm that my Department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on 9 July 2019.

The application was awarded to the person concerned on 24 October 2019 and the first payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 31 October 2019.

Arrears of allowance due for the period 2 May 2019 to 30 October 2019 will issue shortly.

The person concerned was notified on 24 October 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

Questions (1042)

Peter Burke

Question:

1042. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the further documentation that can be given as proof of habitual residence for a pension in view of the volume of material already submitted by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44538/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

State pension non-contributory is a means-tested payment for people aged 66 and over, habitually residing in the State, who do not qualify for a state pension contributory, or who only qualify for a reduced rate contributory pension based on their social insurance record. In order to satisfy the habitual residence condition, the person must have a legal right of residence in the State.

All European Union (EU) citizens have a right of residence in the State for up to three months, during which time they may not access the social welfare system. The right of residence in the State of an EU citizen for longer than this period is conditional on the citizen satisfying the relevant provisions set down in legislation and having sufficient resources so as not to become an unreasonable burden on this country's social welfare system. EU citizens can gain a right of permanent residency after five years legal residence in the State, or after three years if they have worked in the State for the twelve months immediately prior to reaching state pension age.

The person concerned is an EU citizen who came to Ireland to reside with their daughter (who is also an EU citizen) on 10 April 2019. The person has no record of employment in the State and submitted an application for state pension non-contributory on 29 April 2019. I am advised that the application was disallowed as the person concerned, not yet residing in the State for five years or more and not appearing to have sufficient resources so as not to be a burden on the State, had not established a legal right of residence and failed to satisfy the habitual residence condition for the state pension non-contributory scheme.

In due course, if the person concerned can provide a verified record of at least five years residency in the State, it is open to them to re-apply for state pension non-contributory.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility

Questions (1043)

Peter Burke

Question:

1043. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when self-employed persons can access jobseeker's allowance; the way in which they can approach same; the documentation that will be needed to prove they no longer derive an income from self-employment as in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44539/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The main social welfare schemes for people who are unemployed are the jobseeker’s allowance and benefit schemes which provide income support for people who have lost work andare unable to find alternative full-time employment.

On 1 November I introduced a new scheme of job-seekers benefit for self-employed people which is based on a person's social insurance record.

Jobseekers allowance is a means tested scheme and is available for jobseekers who do not qualify for social insurance-based benefits. In assessing means from self-employment, income from the previous twelve months is used as an indicator of likely future earnings. As there is a wide range of self-employment situations, means are assessed to take an individual's circumstances into account. This allows for situations where a person's income can increase or decrease significantly from one year to the next.

Application forms are available on my Department's website www.welfare.ie or from the local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

I would advise the Deputy that the person concerned should contact their local Intreo Centre which will be able to advise on their specific circumstances including the relevant documents required to support their application.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Fuel Allowance Applications

Questions Nos. 1045 and 1046 answered with Question No. 1039.

Questions (1044)

Tom Neville

Question:

1044. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a fuel allowance application by a person (details supplied). [44551/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Fuel allowance is a means-tested payment to assist householders on long-term social welfare payments towards the cost of their heating needs.

The person concerned applied for State pension (contributory) on 6 September 2018, and indicated on the application form that they wished to apply for fuel allowance. In order to ascertain their eligibility for fuel allowance, details of their means were requested on 11 October 2018. The person was notified in writing on 22 May 2019 that their application for fuel allowance was disallowed as they had not replied with the information required to process their application.

A questionnaire has reissued to the person concerned, requesting details of their means. Once this information is received, their eligibility for fuel allowance will be determined and they will be notified of a decision without delay.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 1045 and 1046 answered with Question No. 1039.

Illness Benefit Applications

Questions (1047)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

1047. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for illness benefit in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44577/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department has received medical certificates from the person concerned, however, an application form for Illness Benefit (IB1) has not yet been received from him.

This form has been sent to the person concerned for completion and his claim will be processed as soon as it is received by the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Questions (1048)

Willie Penrose

Question:

1048. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if carer's allowance will be granted to persons who care for incapacitated children or persons; if same will be granted automatically to carers (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44598/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Government acknowledges the important role that family carers play and is fully committed to supporting carers in that role. This commitment is recognised in both the Programme for a Partnership Government and the National Carers’ Strategy.

My Department provides a range of supports to those who are caring for family members, friends or neighbours. These income supports include the Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Carer’s Support Grant and the Domiciliary Care Allowance. Spending on these payments in 2019 is expected to exceed €1.2 billion.

The Carer’s Allowance is the main scheme by which the Department provides income support to carers in the community. Carer’s Allowance is a means tested social assistance payment awarded to those carers who are caring for certain people who require full-time care and attention.

The primary objective of the payment is to provide an income support to carers whose earning capacity is substantially reduced as a consequence of their caring responsibilities and in so doing to support the ongoing care of the person in respect of whom care is being provided. In doing this it also contributes to recognising the valuable role of carers and helping to maintain people with caring needs in their own homes / communities.

The means test for Carer's Allowance is the most generous within the social welfare system in that €332.50 of gross weekly income is disregarded in the calculation of means for a single person; the equivalent for someone who is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting is €665 of combined gross weekly income. At the end of December 2018, there were 79,914 people in receipt of Carer's Allowance. The projected expenditure on Carer's Allowance in 2019 is almost €840 million.

The conditions attached to payments of Carer’s Allowance are consistent with the overall conditions that apply to social assistance payments generally. This system of social assistance supports provides payments based on an income need with the means test playing the critical role in determining whether or not an income need arises as a consequence of a particular contingency – be that illness, disability, unemployment or caring. Carer's Allowance acts as an income support for those who cannot earn an income in the open labour market due to their caring responsibilities. The continued application of the means test not only ensures that the recipient has a verifiable income need but that resources are targeted to those with greatest need.

Based on the number of carers identified as part of Census 2016, it is estimated that by automatically granting the allowance to all carers by removing the means test, such a universal carer’s payment could cost up to an additional €1.2 billion per annum.

My Department offers further supports to carers which are not means tested:-

- Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment for a child, aged under 16 with a severe disability who requires ongoing (continual or continuous) care and attention, substantially over and above the care and attention usually required (in excess of that required) by a child of the same age. The child is likely to require full-time care and attention for at least 12 months. There are no PRSI conditions and it is not means tested. The Domiciliary Care Allowance rate is €309.50 per month.

- The Carer’s Support Grant is an annual payment of €1,700 a year for each care recipient paid in a single lump sum with no requirement to satisfy a means test.

Any changes to the eligibility for Carer's Allowance would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context. I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (1049)

Micheál Martin

Question:

1049. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if new interim arrangements in regard to the State pension (contributory) for post-2012 pensioners that allow for extended homecaring credits and aggregated contributions will apply to all pensioners (details supplied); if legislation is needed in this regard; if so, when the legislation will be introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44609/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Initially, it should be noted that central policy relating to public service pensions rests with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Depending on the sector the person in question works in, their pension scheme may have its own specific qualifying rules and criteria.

The interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA) arrangements, as announced in January 2018, work alongside the Yearly Average (YA) method of calculating the rate at which the contributory state pension (SPC) is paid, with the customer receiving the higher of the two calculated rates. This will continue to be in place until replaced by new legislation. This approach includes consideration of regulations relating to Homecaring periods which were introduced as part of the interim TCA approach.

Homecaring periods can be used to help increase a person’s rate of payment with the SPC if they have spent time out of the workforce to care for children (up to 12) or sick or disabled persons. To be in a position to claim these homecaring periods, they must first satisfy the minimum conditions for receipt of the SPC (i.e. have 10 years’ worth of reckonable contributions, with the first coming before their 56th birthday). Class B or D PRSI contributions, as paid by the majority of public servants recruited prior to April 1995, are not reckonable for State Pension purposes.

The Roadmap for Pension Reform sets out a target to introduce a new Total Contributions Approach for all new contributory state pension applications from the 3rd quarter of 2020. I have received analysis of a public consultation held by my Department and I hope to be in a position to bring a proposal to Government and make an announcement on the proposed design of the scheme shortly.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (1050)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

1050. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of applications awaiting assessment by the medical review and assessment section, in tabular form; the payments to which the applications refer; the length of time in months such persons are waiting; the counties from which the applications come; the length of time allocated for a medical review or assessment; if she is satisfied that there is an adequate number of medical assessors to undertake the assessments on hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44618/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to ensuring that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible and to providing a quality service to all claimants.

Please see the following table containing sought information.

Scheme

Numbers of applications Awaiting Desk Assessment as of 04/11/19

Current Wait Time (in weeks) on Medical opinions as of 04/11/19.

Carers Allowance

332

1.5

Carers Benefit

183

2.2

Disability Allowance

2,056

4.0

Domiciliary Care Allowance

339

2

Companion Free Travel

149

0.8

Partial Capacity Benefit

35

2

Invalidity Pension

413

6.4

Respite Care Grant

118

4

Standalone Respite Care Grant

7

1.6

Profiles by county, please refer to Appendix 1.

The length of time taken for each schemes for desk assessments varies depending on the complexities of the case and the volume of documents submitted, Domiciliary Care Allowance is such example. Therefore it is not feasible to allocate a fixed time for each case as they are unique in their own way even with clients of similar diagnosis. The Medical Assessor will take the time as required to read, analyse and evaluate each case in the assessment and arrives at the clinical opinion for capacity for work or the need for full time care. Furthermore, the Medical Assessor will take the time to prepare the narrative for the reasoning in the event of a not eligible opinion.

The Medical Review and Assessment Section (MRAS) in conjunction with individual scheme business sections, co-ordinates and manages all referrals for assessment to the Medical Assessors.

The Department offers a number of schemes on illness, disability, carers and occupational injury and applications vary in volume and frequency both yearly and seasonally.

High volume and resource intensive schemes like Domiciliary Care Allowance and Disability Allowance would have a higher proportion of Medical Assessors delegated to these schemes. Medical Assessors are assigned to specific schemes on a daily basis.

A dedicated fast-track system is in place between the office of the Chief Medical Advisor/Deputy Chief Medical Advisor and all scheme business areas, to facilitate referral of claimants with serious and poor prognosis medical conditions, for expediting assessment and processing of claims.

The Department endeavours to maintain adequate Medical Assessor capacity in staffing, and following a successful process in 2018 an additional 5 Medical Assessors were recruited. All vacancies are now currently filled.

I hope this satisfactorily clarifies the concerns raised by the Deputy.

Appendix 1

Profile of Numbers of Medical Claim Application Cases Awaiting Assessment on 30/09/19 broken down by Scheme and by County.

County

Carers

Allowance

Carers

Benefit

Disability

Allowance

Disablement

Benefit

Domiciliary

Care Allowance

Free Travel

Partial

Capacity

Benefit

Invalidity

Pension

Respite

Care Grant

Stand Alone

Respite CareGrant

Carlow

4

1

49

4

2

1

9

1

Cavan

5

1

45

2

4

5

2

12

3

3

Clare

4

3

50

5

5

3

13

7

1

Cork

19

10

284

1

42

28

12

95

18

1

Donegal

13

2

90

9

3

7

19

3

Dublin

43

18

534

4

82

48

43

138

28

4

Galway

9

8

126

4

19

8

5

33

7

2

Kerry

8

3

101

1

10

6

2

18

5

1

Kildare

6

7

93

1

12

3

9

24

2

1

Kilkenny

4

3

42

1

7

2

5

9

2

Laois

3

1

49

1

6

9

4

14

2

Leitrim

1

17

1

4

3

4

3

Limerick

5

5

105

19

11

8

39

2

1

Longford

2

2

23

3

2

3

7

1

Louth

7

4

60

8

7

6

31

5

1

Mayo

4

4

63

1

11

3

6

11

4

2

Meath

10

3

79

1

15

5

5

26

7

1

Monaghan

4

31

1

7

1

12

1

Offaly

1

2

66

5

8

6

11

5

2

Roscommon

6

2

41

9

3

2

12

3

Sligo

3

2

27

7

1

4

9

7

Tipperary

10

5

98

12

8

5

43

5

1

Waterford

8

2

65

8

7

6

13

4

Westmeath

3

7

65

5

7

2

22

5

Wexford

7

5

104

10

4

5

22

7

1

Wicklow

7

1

52

13

5

7

24

5