My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all of its customers. This includes ensuring that requests for reviews of decisions on social welfare claims are processed as soon as possible, and that the outcomes are notified promptly.
At all times, every effort is made to complete the reviews as efficiently as possible. Measures to improve the quality of decisions are ongoing and include management checks at local level and the development of guidelines and advice. My Department's Decisions Advisory Office provides complex case advice on the legislative criteria and advise on best practice. Deciding Officers avail of the comprehensive range of e-training and inspector-led training programmes and materials, all quality assured by policy holders.
Officials of the Department meet regularly with the Social Welfare Appeals Office to identify and resolve issues that give rise to requests for reviews and appeals. This collaboration ensures a more consistent application of the legislation and guidelines by officers making decisions on claims, reviews and appeals.
Reducing review processing times is a on-going priority for my Department and officers continue to work hard to achieve this.
I am advised that Department does not currently maintain statistics on the length of time taken to process reviews. The time taken depends on a number of factors including the type of review being carried out, the complexity of the conditions being considered and the information available at the time of the request. Longer term schemes with medical or caring conditionality are relatively more complex to decide and some may need a medical assessor’s opinion and consequently take longer. In other cases, it may be necessary to involve a social welfare inspector to investigate means or the provision of care, all of which takes time.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.