Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Questions (456)

Paul Murphy

Question:

456. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the social welfare appeals office does not have legislative powers, cannot set precedent and is not free to act outside of legislation and precedents set by court. [53882/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office was established in 1990 and operates independently of  the Department. The role of the Office is to determine appeals against decisions of Deciding Officers/Designated Persons of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on social welfare entitlements and insurability of employment. 

The main legislative provisions governing the appeal process are contained in Part 10 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 and the Social Welfare (Appeals) Regulations (Statutory Instrument No. 108 of 1998) and are in place in order to ensure that every appellant is given the opportunity to make their case and have all of their evidence fully considered by an Appeals Officer.

Social welfare legislation sets out the conditions to be satisfied in order to establish entitlement to a payment and Appeals Officers are bound to apply these provisions. Certain other conditions of entitlement require judgement to be applied and in such cases Appeals Officers must determine these cases having regard to the facts pertaining to the individual case.

The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that the decisions of Appeals Officers do not create precedents but the Office strives to achieve consistency in its decision making such that cases based on the same or similar factual circumstances have the same outcome.

The Chief Appeals Officer has also advised me that while the Office is not a Court it must observe the principles of natural justice and fair procedures.