Carer's Allowance Payments

Questions (1071)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1071. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when payment and arrears will issue in respect of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44894/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My department received an application for Carer’s Allowance (CA) from the person concerned on 27 June 2018. 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.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that although a certain level of care was being provided the level involved did not amount to full-time care.

The person concerned was notified on 20 December 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of this decision and submitted additional evidence in support of her application.

The outcome of the review was that the decision still stood; review no change. The person concerned was notified of the outcome on 12 March 2019, the reason for it and of her right of appeal.

My department was notified that the person concerned had appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) and a submission was prepared and forwarded to the SWAO.

As a result of an Appeals Officer’s decision, CA was awarded to the person concerned on 29 October 2019 with effect from 28 June 2018. The first payment will issue to her nominated post office on 31 October 2019. Arrears for the period 28 June 2018 to 30 October 2019 issued by cheque on the same date, 29 October 2019.

The person concerned was notified of this on the 29 October 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Appeals

Questions (1072)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1072. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a non-contributory pension by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44898/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 4 September 2019. At the hearing it was agreed that further investigation of the case was required and, accordingly, the matter was referred to a social welfare inspector. The report of the social welfare inspector has now been received and the case will be reviewed, in the first instance, by a Deciding Officer as to whether a revised decision is appropriate. If the person concerned is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, the matter will be referred to the Appeals Officer for their consideration and 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.

Jobseeker's Transitional Payment

Questions (1073)

Dara Calleary

Question:

1073. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the decision to remove lone parents from jobseeker's transitional payment automatically when the youngest child turns 14 years of age is having a negative impact on such applications for other funding streams such as SUSI (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44903/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

When a customer on Jobseekers Transitional (JST) wishes to commence a course of education, they are required to advise their Intreo Centre where an appointment will be made with a case officer to discuss the customer’s options.

Customers in receipt of Jobseekers Transitional (JST) payments have two options if they wish to complete a course of education. First, where the course can be completed within the 7 years that they have access to JST (i.e. until their youngest child is 14 years of age), these customers can avail of the SUSI grant and a JST payment subject to the conditions of both schemes.

Secondly, where the course cannot be completed within the 7 years available on JST, for example if the course is over 3 years and the youngest child is now 12, the customer may instead apply for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) when s/he commences the course. This allowance will continue to be paid, subject to the conditions of the BTEA scheme, until the course is completed even when the customer’s youngest child reaches 14 years of age.

The BTEA is not intended to be an alternative form of funding for people entering or re-entering the third-level education system. The Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) Grant, payable by the Department of Education and Skills, is Ireland’s single national awarding authority for all higher and further education grants.

The Deputy should note that applicants approved for BTEA are not eligible for a maintenance grant from SUSI. The type of funding that BTEA recipients may be eligible for from SUSI for will depend on the course that they are studying. The eligibility rules that govern the payment of a student maintenance grant are a matter for the Department of Education and Skills.

Since September 2017, recipients of BTEA can get a Cost of Education Allowance of €500 if they have a dependent child.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (1074)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1074. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44943/19]

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.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 7 June 2019.

Additional information in relation to the person’s application was requested by a deciding officer on 30 October 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 .

Jobseeker's Transitional Payment

Questions (1075)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1075. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason the jobseeker's transitional payment was discontinued from January 2019 for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44944/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned applied on the 25th February 2019 for an illness benefit payment whilst undergoing medical treatment. Once an illness benefit claim is opened, Jobseeker's Transitional Payment (JST) is no longer payable as a condition of JST is that a claimant must be fit for work.

The JST claim continued to be paid until the 6th March 2019 when the claim was closed. The person concerned subsequently withdrew her Illness Benefit claim but as her JST claim had been closed it was not possible to recommence her JST without a certificate of fitness

I am advised that the person concerned did not resubmit another application for JST until the 04th of July 2019 when a new claim was made and a certificate of fitness provided for reduced hours. This claim has been paid from that date and remains in payment.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (1076)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1076. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an invalidity pension application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44946/19]

View answer

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 this gentleman on 14 February 2019. His claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. He was notified on 25 May 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review and appeal.

The gentleman concerned subsequently requested a review and lodged an appeal of the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) and submitted further medical evidence in support of his requests.

Following a review of all the information available the gentleman referred to has been awarded IP with effect from 14 February 2019. Payment will issue to his nominated bank account on 14 November 2019. Any arrears due from 14 February 2019 to 13 November 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible. The gentleman in question was notified of this decision on 31 October 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (1077)

James Lawless

Question:

1077. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) will be investigated; and if the person will be assisted in locating their contributions. [44965/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

A minimum of 520 full-rate paid contributions is required for the standard state pension (contributory), with a minimum of 260 full-rate paid contributions required for entitlement to a mixed insurance pro- rata pension. According to the records of my Department, the person concerned does not have any full rate social insurance contributions.

The person concerned was employed with the Department of Agriculture and Energy and would have paid modified rate social insurance contributions as applied to civil servants at that time. As modified rate insurance in itself does not give entitlement to state pension (contributory), the person concerned does not qualify for state pension (contributory).

If the person concerned had other periods of insurable employment or self-employment, they should forward details to the state pension contributory section and the matter will be examined.

It is also open to the person concerned to apply for the state pension (non-contributory) which is a means-tested, residency-based payment.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (1078)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1078. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if self-employment contributions from 2013 to 2018 will be accepted for contributory pension purposes for a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44988/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides for the use of S Class contributions from self-employment in a person’s 66th year (up to their 66th birthday) to satisfy the ‘minimum 520 paid contributions’ condition for State pension (contributory) eligibility.

The person concerned applied for State pension (contributory) on 22 July 2013. They did not have the required 520 full-rate contributions to qualify for this pension. They were notified accordingly in writing on 2 September 2013.

As the person concerned reached 66 on 8 July 2013, any self-employment contributions after that date are not included in assessment of pension entitlement.

It is open to the person concerned to apply for the State pension (non-contributory) which is a means-tested, residency-based payment.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (1079)

John McGuinness

Question:

1079. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the maximum social welfare benefit will issue to a person (details supplied); if disability benefit will be approved in the case; and if supplementary welfare benefit will be approved to assist them. [45023/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I can confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 27 August 2019.

On 21 September 2019 and on 14 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 can confirm this lady is currently in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (1080)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1080. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on an invalidity pension arrears appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45025/19]

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, decided to allow the invalidity pension appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision on 7 February 2019. The appeal was allowed with effect from 2 September 2018.

Under social welfare legislation the decision of an Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed under section 317 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 by an Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts, or where there has been a change of circumstances which has come to notice since the date of the Appeals Officer's original decision.

I am advised that the person concerned has sought further backdating of the award of invalidity pension and has submitted additional evidence which was received in the Appeals Office on 23 September 2019. The appeal decision is now being reviewed by an Appeals Officer. The person concerned will be contacted when the review of this appeal decision has been finalised.

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.

Departmental Investigations

Questions (1081)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1081. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 653 of 17 September 2019, the reason data regarding decisions made on employment and self-employment cannot be provided; the reason it is unavailable; her plans to improve record keeping in view of the fact a significant amount of important data is not being quantified; if she will consider tracking such cases by sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45027/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The historic database used in the Scope Section of my Department prior to 2018 did not provide data regarding decisions made on employment and self-employment status. Since then, a new system has been introduced. The new system records and categorises, in a more specific way, the different types of cases handled by Scope Section, including those dealing with employment status. A breakdown of such cases was provided to the Deputy on 17 September 2019.

As the Deputy will be aware, I have reallocated resources in my Department to tackling the issue of false self-employment. In addition to tackling it, I intend to measure and better quantify its prevalence across the workforce, and any sectoral characteristics that may pertain to it.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Public Procurement Contracts Data

Questions (1082)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1082. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the details of contracts of €25,000 or more that have been awarded by her Department or bodies under her aegis that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45063/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The procurement of supplies and services is essential to support my Department and bodies under the aegis of my Department in providing high quality services to the public, in a cost effective and efficient manner. The tables below set out details of contracts over €25,000 that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

In the 2017 Appropriation Accounts 6 contracts were deemed to be non-compliant. Details are as follows:

Wordperfect

€524,022

Contract extended due to legal issues with an OGP framework. A new contract is in place.

Vodafone

€456,000

Contract extended due to delays in formulating an OGP framework. A new contract is in place.

Office Depot

€130,000

Contract extended due to legal challenge with an OGP framework. A new contract is in place.

Safekeeping Ltd

€50,300

Contract extended to facilitate the transfer to a new company.

Consult Hyperion

€41,500

Contract extended to cover urgent additional consultancy work. A new contract is in place.

Greenstar Ltd

€36,476

Contract extended to facilitate the transfer to a new company.

In the 2018 Appropriation Accounts 5 contracts were deemed to be non-compliant. Details are as follows:

Colorman Ltd

€262,000

Contract extended to facilitate urgent Department needs. A new contract is in place.

Access TranslationsUnique Voice TranslationAccord Translations

€159,000

This service was supplied by three companies. A new contract is in place.

WordPerfect LtdDeaglan Ó CaoimhSTAR Translation Services

€97,000

This service was supplied by three companies. A new contract is in place.

Applied Signs & Display

€37,320

Contract extended to meet business needs. A new tender is being prepared for issue in 2019.

Kieran Murphy

€35,000

Contract extended to complete necessary work and is now complete.

For 2019 no contracts are deemed to be non-compliant at this time.

Citizens Information Board (CIB)

In the 2017 Financial Statement for CIB, 5 contracts were deemed to be non-compliant. Details are as follows:

IPB Insurances

€195,000

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an OGP framework.

Marketing Network

€153,923

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an OGP framework.

Michael Browne, Research Consultant

€54,796

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an open competition.

The Creative Brains Trust Ltd.

€36,250

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an OGP framework.

PC Peripherals

€26,565

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an OGP framework.

In the 2018 Financial Statement for CIB, 6 contracts were deemed to be non-compliant. Details are as follows:

Vodafone

€479,306

The WAN side of this contract has now been procured through an OGP Framework. The Telephony procurement process is nearing completion, through an open process.

IPB Insurances

€475,978

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an OGP framework.

Marketing Network

€415,681

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an OGP framework.

PC Periphals

€158,417

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an OGP framework.

Dataworks Ltd

€32,000

Spend with this vendor has ceased pending an RFT process.

Vodafone

€25,871

The service that this vendor provided has now been procured through an OGP framework.

In 2019, 3 contracts are currently deemed to be non-compliant. Details are as follows:

Vodafone

€428,943

The WAN side of this contract has now been procured through an OGP Framework. The Telephony procurement process is nearing completion, through an open process.

Hibernia Evros - Technology Group

€258,714

This procurement will be commenced by end 2019 through an open competition.

Integrity Communications Ltd

€62,100

This was a once off emergency procurement, a competitive process was adopted but not through eTenders.

The Pensions Council, Pensions Authority, Low Pay Commission and Social Welfare Tribunal had no non-compliant procurements for the years in question 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Details of the Department’s non-compliant procurements are published annually on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s website and details of the Citizens Information Board’s non-compliant procurements can be found in the Financial Statement of the Annual Report which is published annually on the Citizen Information Board’s website.

My Department and bodies under the aegis of my Department ensure that the necessary work is undertaken to make non-compliant contracts compliant as soon as possible.

Free Travel Scheme Eligibility

Questions (1083)

Seán Haughey

Question:

1083. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a companion travel pass will be granted to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45099/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised that an appeal application for a companion free travel pass for the person concerned was medically assessed by a Medical Assessor on 22 October 2019 where she was deemed eligible for Companion Free Travel Pass after the additional medical evidence submitted was considered. The medical opinion was conveyed to Household Benefits Section in Sligo and correspondence giving the result was issued to the customer in the last few days.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (1084)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1084. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45107/19]

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.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 14 June 2019.

Additional information in relation to the person’s application was requested by a deciding officer on 18 October 2019 and, following receipt of incomplete details, information was again requested on 29 October 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 (1085)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1085. Deputy Thomas Pringle 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. [45108/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance with effect from 24 April 2019. The first payment will be made by his chosen payment method on 20 November 2019.

Arrears of payment due will issue as soon as possible.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (1086)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1086. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for a disability allowance will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45109/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 4 February 2019. Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was refused on medical grounds as it was not found that this gentleman was substantially restricted in taking up employment. The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 6 June 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 30 October 2019. He was also advised of his right to appeal the decision to the independent social welfare appeals office.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (1087, 1088, 1089)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1087. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person residing here permanently in receipt of a pension from abroad but not in receipt of an Irish State pension is eligible to apply for the winter fuel allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45110/19]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1088. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person residing here permanently in receipt of a pension from abroad but not in receipt of an Irish State pension is eligible to apply for the living alone allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45111/19]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1089. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person residing here permanently in receipt of a pension from abroad but not in receipt of an Irish State pension is eligible to apply for the household benefits package; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45112/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1087 to 1089, inclusive, together.

The fuel allowance is 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. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household. The allowance is increasing by €2 to €24.50 from January 2020 following changes announced in the budget.

A person in receipt of a Social Security Payment from a country covered by EU Regulations or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement (of which there is an Irish equivalent payment) is eligible to apply for the fuel allowance payment on the same basis as Irish State pension recipients. As with all other recipients of the fuel allowance, the person must satisfy a means test as well as all other qualifying conditions. If a person is in receipt of a foreign pension other that a qualifying foreign pension as outlined above, then they will not be entitled to the fuel allowance payment.

The Living Alone Increase is a €9 increase in the weekly rate of payment of certain Irish social protection payments awarded where the recipient is living alone. These payments include State pensions, disability allowance, invalidity pension, incapacity supplement and blind pension. It is not a stand-alone payment. This payment is rising by €5 to €14 from January 2020 following changes announced in the budget.

People in receipt of a State pension or other equivalent payments from a country covered by EU Regulations or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement are not currently entitled to receive the Irish living alone increase to that payment, as the respective rates of those payments to people living alone or with other people are set by national legislation in those countries. There are no circumstances where the living alone increase can be paid to people who are not in receipt of a qualifying payment from my Department.

The household benefits package (HHB) comprises the electricity or gas allowance, and the free television licence. My Department will spend approximately €248 million this year on HHB for over 448,000 customers.

The package is generally available to people living in the State aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment or who satisfy a means test. The package is also available to some people under the age of 66 who are in receipt of certain qualifying social welfare payments.

Pensioners aged between 66 and 70, who are in receipt of an equivalent social security pension from a country covered by EU Regulations or from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement, are eligible to apply for the HHB package and would be eligible for the scheme, once he or she satisfied the relevant household conditions and the means test.

For the household benefits package, pensioners aged 70 or over who are legally resident in Ireland are entitled to the package without being in receipt of any qualifying social welfare payment. The package is not means-tested; however, as it a household benefit, only one person per household is eligible for the scheme.

I hope this clarifies these matters for the Deputy.

Public Services Card

Questions (1090)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1090. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is satisfied that the tender process for the public services card adhered to public procurement guidelines insofar as a company (details supplied) appears to have been the sole bidder for the second generation card contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45114/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am satisfied that my Department has fully complied with its legal obligations under EU law and Irish law with regard to the tender process for the implementation, production, personalisation and distribution of the Public Services Card (PSC).

The request for tender was an open procurement which was advertised on eTenders, which is the Irish Government's electronic tendering platform administered by the Office of Government Procurement.

The tender process was open from 16th February 2018 to 19th of March 2018. The timeframe allowed was commensurate with the timeframe used when the original tender for the PSC was published in 2008.

I trust this clarifies the position for the Deputy.