Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (594)

Bernard Durkan


594. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps a person (details supplied) is required to take to compel a family member living in the USA to provide personal information which has been deemed relevant to their case by her Department but which would impact the family member’s own family and breach data protection rules; if her Department has the power to disregard data protection legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38873/20]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

In the case of the person concerned, the information sought was to help establish the current means of the claimant. Information in relation to the relative’s own family was not sought and the family member was advised that they only needed to provide the information as it pertained to the claimant and all other information on the documentation could be deleted or blanked out.

While the onus is on the person concerned to provide the information requested, they cannot be compelled to provide it. However, their entitlement to the payment may be affected if they do not provide the information that is necessary to support their claim.

The powers given to a Social Welfare Inspector allows them to request any information that they reasonably require to complete their investigations regarding an application or the review of a claim in payment. This is set out in Section 250 (2) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised that an appeal by the person concerned was referred on 14/10/2020 to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of my Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

The person concerned is currently in receipt of a Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance payment at the weekly rate of €207 pending the outcome of her appeal. She is also in receipt of a Rent Supplement at the weekly rate of €52.46.

I trust this clarifies the matter.