Social Welfare Inspections

Questions (559)

Holly Cairns

Question:

559. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Social Protection if it is an accepted practice for social welfare inspectors to carry out unannounced visits to the homes of persons receiving social welfare payments; if so, the guidelines and protocols the inspectors operate under; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38111/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

All Social Welfare Inspectors operate under a code of practice which sets out the manner in which they are required to deal with the public. The code of practice is published on www.gov.ie/en/publication/f75848-operational-guidelines-swi-code-of-practice-for-social-welfare-inspe/. It requires that Customers must at all times be treated equally, fairly, with respect and dignity, as outlined in the Customer Charter.

Inspectors are appointed under Section 250 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended). They are required to investigate and report on customer’s claims and confirm that scheme conditionality is in order. The powers outline the requirement for a claimant to give an inspector information and any documents that s/he may require for the purposes of an investigation.

As part of their investigations, an inspector's remit also includes the combating of fraud and abuse of the Department's schemes. Inspectors may need to make notified or un-notified home visits. Such visits to a customer’s home are an operational control measure and a decision as to whether a home visit is necessary, and whether the customer is notified in advance, will depend on the nature of the case.

It is important to understand that inspectors work across the range of the Department's activities and that home visits could be required, for instance, to facilitate access to an Urgent Needs payment or to review a case without which a delay in payment to the customer might occur.

Finally, it is also important to understand that Social Welfare Inspectors may only enter a private home if invited. There is no statutory power of entry, unlike a workplace. If a customer does not wish to allow an inspector to enter their private home, they may be requested by the inspector to make themselves available for interview at an alternative agreed location.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension

Questions (560)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

560. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress to date in the determination of an application for an invalidity pension in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38120/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and for no other reason and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The department received a claim for IP for the lady referred to on 08 October 2020. The claim was refused on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on 16 November 2020 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits

Questions (561)

Carol Nolan

Question:

561. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to a six weeks' death related payment following the death of the person's spouse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38123/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Where a person in receipt of disability allowance (DA) dies, the payment may continue for a period of six weeks after death in certain circumstances.

In order to qualify for six weeks payment after death the spouse must reside at the same address, be an adult dependant on the claim or be in receipt of a social welfare payment in their own right at the same address.

As the person in question does not reside at the same address they do not meet the criteria as outlined above and no entitlement to the after death payment exists.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Benefit

Questions (562)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

562. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide details of the increases in jobseeker’s allowance, jobseeker's benefit and supplementary allowance in each of the past ten years; and the percentage increase or decrease in each of the years. [38152/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statements.

Jobseeker's Allowance - aged 26 and over

Personal Rate

Percentage Increase

Qualified Adult Allowance

Percentage Increase

Qualified Child Increase

Percentage Increase

2008

197.80

131.30

24.00

2009

204.30

3.3%

135.60

3.3%

26.00

8.3%

2010

196.00

-4.1%

130.10

-4.1%

29.80

14.6%

2011

188.00

-4.1%

124.80

-4.1%

29.80

0.0%

2012

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2013

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2014

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2015

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2016

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2017

193.00

2.7%

128.10

2.6%

29.80

0.0%

2018

198.00

2.6%

131.40

2.6%

31.80

6.7%

2019

198.00

0.0%

131.40

0.0%

31.80

0.0%

Jobseeker's Allowance - aged 25

Personal Rate

Percentage Increase

Qualified Adult Allowance

Percentage Increase

Qualified Child Increase

Percentage Increase

2008

197.80

131.30

24.00

2009

204.30

3.3%

135.60

3.3%

26.00

8.3%

2010

196.00

-4.1%

130.10

-4.1%

29.80

14.6%

2011

188.00

-4.1%

124.80

-4.1%

29.80

0.0%

2012

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2013

144.00

-23.4%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2014

144.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2015

144.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2016

144.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2017

147.80

2.6%

128.10

2.6%

29.80

0.0%

2018

152.80

3.4%

131.40

2.6%

31.80

6.7%

2019

152.80

0.0%

131.40

0.0%

31.80

0.0%

Jobseeker's Allowance - aged under 25

Personal Rate

Percentage Increase

Qualified Adult Allowance

Percentage Increase

Qualified Child Increase

Percentage Increase

2008

197.80

131.30

24.00

2009

204.30

3.3%

135.60

3.3%

26.00

8.3%

2010

196.00

-4.1%

130.10

-4.1%

29.80

14.6%

2011

188.00

-4.1%

124.80

-4.1%

29.80

0.0%

2012

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2013

100.00

-46.8%

100.00

-19.9%

29.80

0.0%

2014

100.00

0.0%

100.00

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2015

100.00

0.0%

100.00

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2016

100.00

0.0%

100.00

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2017

102.70

2.7%

102.70

2.7%

29.80

0.0%

2018

107.70

4.9%

107.70

4.9%

31.80

6.7%

2019

107.70

0.0%

107.70

0.0%

31.80

0.0%

Jobseeker’s Benefit

Personal Rate

Percentage Increase

Qualified Adult Allowance

Percentage Increase

Qualified Child Increase

Percentage Increase

2008

197.80

131.30

24.00

2009

204.30

3.3%

135.60

3.3%

26.00

8.3%

2010

196.00

-4.1%

130.10

-4.1%

29.80

14.6%

2011

188.00

-4.1%

124.80

-4.1%

29.80

0.0%

2012

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2013

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2014

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2015

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2016

188.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2017

193.00

2.7%

128.10

2.6%

29.80

0.0%

2018

198.00

2.6%

131.40

2.6%

31.80

6.7%

2019

198.00

0.0%

131.40

0.0%

31.80

0.0%

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance - aged 26 and over

Personal Rate

Percentage Increase

Qualified Adult Allowance

Percentage Increase

Qualified Child Increase

Percentage Increase

2008

197.80

131.30

24.00

2009

204.30

3.3%

135.60

3.3%

26.00

8.3%

2010

196.00

-4.1%

130.10

-4.1%

29.80

14.6%

2011

186.00

-5.1%

124.80

-4.1%

29.80

0.0%

2012

186.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2013

186.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2014

186.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2015

186.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2016

186.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2017

191.00

2.7%

128.10

2.6%

29.80

0.0%

2018

196.00

2.6%

131.40

2.6%

31.80

6.7%

2019

196.00

0.0%

131.40

0.0%

31.80

0.0%

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance - aged 25

Prsonal Rate

Percentage Increase

Qualified Adult Allowance

Percentage Increase

Qualified Child Increase

Percentage Increase

2008

197.80

131.30

24.00

2009

204.30

3.3%

135.60

3.3%

26.00

8.3%

2010

196.00

-4.1%

130.10

-4.1%

29.80

14.6%

2011

186.00

-5.1%

124.80

-4.1%

29.80

0.0%

2012

186.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2013

144.00

-22.6%

124.80

0.0%

0.00

-100.0%

2014

144.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

0.00

-

2015

144.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

100.0%

2016

144.00

0.0%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2017

147.80

2.6%

128.10

2.6%

29.80

0.0%

2018

152.80

3.4%

131.40

2.6%

31.80

6.7%

2019

152.80

0.0%

131.40

0.0%

31.80

0.0%

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance - aged under 25

Personal Rate

Percentage Increase

Qualified Adult Allowance

Percentage Increase

Qualified Child Increase

Percentage Increase

2008

197.80

131.30

24.00

2009

204.30

3.3%

135.60

3.3%

26.00

8.3%

2010

196.00

-4.1%

130.10

-4.1%

29.80

14.6%

2011

186.00

-5.1%

124.80

-4.1%

29.80

0.0%

2012

144.00

-22.6%

124.80

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2013

100.00

-30.6%

100.00

-19.9%

0.00

-100.0%

2014

100.00

0.0%

100.00

0.0%

0.00

-

2015

100.00

0.0%

100.00

0.0%

29.80

100.0%

2016

100.00

0.0%

100.00

0.0%

29.80

0.0%

2017

102.70

2.7%

102.70

2.7%

29.80

0.0%

2018

107.70

4.9%

107.70

4.9%

31.80

6.7%

2019

107.70

0.0%

107.70

0.0%

31.80

0.0%

Community Employment Schemes

Questions (563)

Seán Canney

Question:

563. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the current implementation of the saver clause in community employment schemes which states that participants who commenced on community employment prior to 3 July 2017 will be entitled to remain under their existing community employment eligibility rules in which this is to their advantage; if it is more advantageous to the person the current criteria can be applied; if this saver clause is being applied across the country uniformly, especially in relation to persons aged 55 years and over; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38210/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Community Employment (CE) Scheme is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.

A number of new conditions were introduced to the CE Scheme in July 2017 to further support progression to employment, broaden CE access to a wider range of people and to standardise the conditions relating to the length of time a CE participant can remain on a CE scheme.

Prior to 2017, there were two available options for participating on CE. Both options commenced with one year of participation with the possibility of either one or two more years, depending on the option taken. Both options were subject to qualification criteria and neither required the CE participant to undertake any training resulting in the achievement of a major QQI award.

In 2017 the new conditions and qualifying criteria were introduced and a saver clause was provided for the existing clients: ‘Participants who commenced on CE prior to 3rd July 2017 will be entitled to remain under their existing CE eligibility rules, where this is to their advantage. If it is more advantageous to the person, the current criteria can be applied.’

The saver clause that was introduced allowed CE participants who commenced under that option to continue on CE for a maximum of three consecutive years with or without working towards a QQI major award, whichever was more advantageous. The 2017 saver clause does not allow those affected to continue to participate on CE for six years consecutively.

The same continuous limitation of three years continues to apply to all CE participants both pre and post 2017. CE participation was never intended to be long-term and the maximum continued participation on CE is three years.

In general CE placements for new entrants aged between 21 and 55 years are for one year. CE participants who are working towards a Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) major award can seek to extend their participation on CE by up to two years to enable them to reach the required standard of qualification. CE participants aged 55 years or older can remain on CE for three years and do not have to work towards a QQI major award. In either scenario, a maximum of three consecutive year's participation on CE is permissible. A person may re-qualify for CE after a twelve month break once they satisfy the qualifying conditions. An overall lifetime limit of six years applies to all CE participants (seven years for those on a disability payment). The same rules and eligibility criteria attached to participation on CE are applied throughout the country.

The priority for my Department is to ensure that all employment and activation programmes have the best outcomes for participants. Places on these work programmes will continue to be made available to support those who are long term unemployed and furthest removed from the labour market, while maintaining the role of CE as an active labour market programme.

I am fully committed to the future of CE and will continue to support and improve CE for the benefit of the CE participants and the valuable contribution being made to local communities.

Social Welfare Appeals

Questions (564)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

564. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if an appeal will be accepted in the case of a person (details supplied); if an oral hearing will be facilitated at an early date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38216/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

An application for jobseeker's allowance by the person concerned was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department on 10 February 2020. I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that no appeal from the person concerned was received in that office until 14 July 2020.

In the normal course, an appeal against the decision of a Deciding Officer must be made within 21 days of a decision being notified. Appeals received outside of this time limit may be accepted at the discretion of the Chief Appeals Officer. In view of the length of time which elapsed between when the person concerned was notified of the decision and their submitting an appeal, the absence of any explanation, to date, for the failure to submit an appeal within the prescribed timeframe and their failure to submit grounds of appeal, I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal has not been registered in this case.

However, the Appeals Office has now sought the grounds of appeal and an explanation for the failure to submit an appeal within the prescribed timeframe and, on receipt of the response, will determine whether a late appeal can be accepted and will notify the person concerned promptly. Should an appeal be accepted and referred to an Appeals Officer they will determine whether the appeal may be finalised by way of summary decision or if an oral hearing is required.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for 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.

Community Employment Schemes

Questions (565)

Thomas Gould

Question:

565. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Social Protection if support will be given to a community centre (details supplied) and other similar projects to form a company with the intention of sponsorship with the aim of continuing their participation in the community employment scheme. [38220/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Community Employment (CE) is a positive initiative that enables the long-term unemployed to make a contribution to their Communities whilst upskilling themselves for employment opportunities. The Scheme can play an important role in breaking the cycle of long-term unemployment for some people and improve their chances of employment.

Where a sponsor wishes to apply for funding for a new scheme there is a standard application process which involves consideration by our Monitoring Committee, and any application for a new scheme is required to go through that process. Should the centre establish a Sponsoring body and wish to apply for a new CE scheme, the Community Development Officer can advise them regarding the process to be followed. Any application for new places will have to be considered in the context of the needs of all schemes across the region and the overall allocation of places.

The community centre in question has approval for 8 Community Employment (CE) places and I can confirm that my Department is willing to continue to approve this level of support to the centre so that they can continue to support the local and voluntary groups that use it. A Community Development Officer is currently engaged with the centre in relation to identifying other CE schemes that they could approach in relation to sponsorship and if successful the Department will facilitate the transfer of places.

Personal Public Service Numbers

Questions (566)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

566. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be allocated a personal public service number in order to enable the person to take up employment. [38223/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I can confirm that the individual referred to by the Deputy has been contacted regarding his application for a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) by officials of my Department so that they may proceed to progress his application.

Upon receipt of outstanding information, this application will be processed without delay.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pensions Data

Questions (567)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

567. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the gross and net costs of not increasing the pension age to 67 years of age quantifying each of the various factors; the reason for each factor; the estimated savings on working age payments that would otherwise be enabled if the pension age were to be increased; and if the estimated net cost includes public sector pensions in tabular form. [38375/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Programme for Government “Our Shared Future” sets out how the planned increase in the State pension age next year will be deferred and it will remain at 66 years pending the report of the Commission on Pensions. The Government confirmed as part of its Budget 2021 measures that the required amendment to primary legislation (the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005) will be brought before the Oireachtas later this year as part of the Budget Bill for enactment in advance of the 1st January 2021.

Based on modelling conducted in advance of Budget 2021, my Department estimated costings for retaining the State pension age at 66 year, in both 2021 and 2022. The gross extra costs were estimated at approx. €321 million in 2021 and approx. €653.5 million in 2022.

The net extra costs for 2021 are estimated at approx. €221 million in 2021. The 2022 full year extra cost of retaining the State pension age at 66 years is estimated to be approx. €453 million. The smaller amount in 2021 is due to a first year effect. The 2022 extra cost figure of €453 million is expected to rise year on year thereafter.

The estimates for net extra costs take into consideration PRSI receipts forgone, movements from other social welfare schemes, and secondary benefit entitlements including Fuel Allowance, Household Benefit Payment and Telephone Allowance. The estimates are based on current rates of payments and do not make any provision for rate increases.

The estimates do not include costs for public sector pensions. Policy issues in relation to public sector pensions are matters for my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

A breakdown of estimated costs quantifying each of the various factors is in the following table:

Estimated Expenditure 2021

Estimated Expenditure 2022

€000

€000

Pensions

279,150

570,190

Household Benefits, Fuel Allowance + Telephone Support Allowance to 66-67 year olds

6,780

13,260

PRSI receipts forgone from 66 to 67 year olds

35,000

70,000

Gross Extra Cost

320,930

653,450

Less

Qualified Adult Payments

-5,800

-11,410

Working Age Income Supports

-35,940

-71,750

Working Age Employment Supports

-1,570

-3,130

Illness, Disability and Carers

-56,970

-113,790

NET Extra Cost

220,650

453,370

It should be noted that the above estimates are subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revisions of the estimated numbers of recipients.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pensions Data

Questions (568)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

568. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated projected pension expenditure based on demographic cost estimates in each of the years 2020 to 2030, in tabular form.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38376/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Population projections indicate that Ireland will undergo significant demographic changes between 2020 and 2050. As a result of demographic pressures, the number of State pension recipients will continue to rise. This has significant implications for the future costs of State pension provision. Sustainability is vital if the current workers, who fund State pension payments through their PRSI contributions, are to receive a pension themselves when they reach retirement age.

The Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund, as at 31 December 2015, was published in September 2017 and highlighted Ireland’s rapidly altering age structure. The Review covered a 55 year period from 2016-2071. The Review emphasised that long-term projections are based on a wide range of assumptions about the future. The focus was on the trends which emerge over the projection period of the Review and on the relativities between various items of income and expenditure rather than on the results for individual years.

The Review indicated that the percentage of the population over State pension age was projected to increase from 12% in 2015 (when State Pension Age was 66 years), to 17% in 2035 (when the State pension age was expected to be 68 years) and to 23% in 2055 (again on the basis that the State pension age expected to be 68 years). It is also projected that the pensioner support ratio will decline from 4.9 workers/person over State Pension Age to 2.9 in 2035 to 2.0 in 2055.

Furthermore, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) published its “Long-term Sustainability Report: Fiscal challenges and risks 2025-2050” in July 2020. This report provides the IFAC’s assessment of the long-run sustainability of the public finances in Ireland and demographic projections for the coming decades to 2050. The economic projections were formed on the basis of consistent macroeconomic and demographic underpinnings and assumptions. This report indicated that Ireland faces a rapid pace of ageing. It projected dramatic growth rates for older-age population cohorts. Age groups below 65 are set to see modest increases over 2020?2050, while older cohorts will increase much more markedly. The population aged 65–79 will expand by 88% and the 80+ population will expand by 240%.

Based on modelling conducted earlier this year, the following table sets out estimated increases in expenditure directly related to the demographic changes in the pension population for the period 2021 to 2025. These estimates are based on a State Pension Age of 66. These demographic pressures alone mean that total expenditure on pensions over the five years from 2021 to 2025 will increase by an extra €5.5 billion approx., without any payment rate increases.

Additional Annual State Pension Expenditure From Demographics 2021-2025 (€ Billions)

Year

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

Increase caused by demographic growth in numbers (€bn.)

0.47

0.65

1.05

1.4

1.9

Modelling increases in pension expenditure on an annual basis beyond 2025 has not yet been done to this level of detail and requires a comprehensive examination of demographic changes and actuarial probabilities.

As the Deputy is aware, the Government has approved the establishment of a Commission on Pensions. The Commission’s Terms of Reference includes a review the projected changes in demographics, earnings and the labour market, and associated costs. In line with the Programme for Government, the Commission will report to Government on its work, findings, options and recommendations by 30th June 2021. The Government will take action having regard to the recommendations of the Commission within six months.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pensions Data

Questions (569, 570)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

569. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated number of 66-year-olds who would be projected to have an entitlement to the State pension in each of the years 2020 to 2030 if the pension age remains at 66 years of age; and the estimated average payment. [38377/20]

View answer

Claire Kerrane

Question:

570. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated number of 67-year-olds projected to have an entitlement to the State pension in each of the years 2020 to 2030; and the estimated average payment. [38378/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 569 and 570 together.

The Programme for Government “Our Shared Future” sets out how the planned increase in the State pension age next year will be deferred and it will remain at 66 years pending the report of the Commission on Pensions. The Government confirmed as part of its Budget 2021 measures that the required amendment to primary legislation (the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005) will be brought before the Oireachtas later this year as part of the Budget Bill for enactment in advance of the 1st January 2021. The Government has set aside a provision of €221 million in 2021 to support this measure.

Based on modelling conducted earlier this year, my Department estimates that because of demographic pressures the number of pensioners will continue to rise over the next five years (up to 2025) as per the following table, depending on the State Pension Age. It should be noted that the estimates in these tables are subject to change.

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

Keeping the State pension age at 66 years

677,125

700,425

725,325

751,825

779,925

809,625

If the State Pension Age was increased to 67 from 1st January 2021

677,125

679,825

682,525

706,225

730,925

756,625

Modelling on estimated numbers of 66 and 67 year olds who would have an entitlement to the State Pension beyond 2025 on an annual basis has not yet been done to this level of detail and requires a comprehensive examination of demographic changes and actuarial probabilities.

The primary focus of the modelling carried out was to forecast, monitor and explain trends in recipients, costs and expenditure for the current and next year. The average payment values used as part of the 2021 estimates calculations was €251 weekly for State Pension (Contributory) and €228 weekly for State Pension (Non-Contributory). The average payment values includes provision for Increase for Qualified Adult/Child, Living Alone Allowance, Island Allowance and Over 80s allowance as they are all included under the primary scheme payment.

As the Deputy is aware, the Government has approved the establishment of a Commission on Pensions. The Commission’s Terms of Reference includes the development of a range of options to address the sustainability of the state pension and the Social Insurance Fund in terms of pension age, eligibility criteria, contribution rates, pension calculation methods and pension payment rates. The Commission will report to me on its work, findings, options and recommendations by 30th June 2021. The Government intends to take action having regard to the recommendations of the Commission within six months of its report.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension

Questions (571)

John McGuinness

Question:

571. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if the further medical evidence submitted by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; if their invalidity pension will be granted; and if not, if an oral hearing will be granted to see at first hand the person's incapacity and to hear their case. [38384/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and for no other reason and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The department received a claim for IP for the person concerned on 17 September 2020. The claim was refused on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on 14 October 2020 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal to the independent social welfare appeals office (SWAO).

The person concerned has indicated that she is requesting a review of the decision and she will be submitting additional supporting documents in the next few weeks. When the documentation is submitted a review of the decision to disallow IP will be processed as quickly as possible and she will be notified directly of the outcome. If the decision to disallow is confirmed, her claim will be submitted to the SWAO for determination.

The SWAO has advised that an appeal by the lady concerned was registered in that office on 12 November 2020. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. On receipt of these papers, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer. The Appeals Officer dealing with this case will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required and if Covid-19 restrictions allow, hold an oral hearing

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Benefit

Questions (572)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

572. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the maximum duration a person can retain entitlement under jobseeker’s benefit if the person enters that benefit having already been on the pandemic unemployment payment (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38387/20]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Jobseeker's Benefit is a weekly payment to people who have lost their employment and who satisfy the scheme's statutory conditions including the requirement to have paid sufficient social insurance contributions. This benefit is paid for 9 months (234 days) to people who have paid 260 or more PRSI contributions and for 6 months (156 days) to people who have paid less than 260 contributions.

The duration of Jobseeker's Benefit is not affected by any period for which a person has received the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

I trust that this clarifies the position.

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Questions (573, 574, 579, 589)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

573. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to extend the date beyond 31 December 2020 before which applications can be made for the pandemic unemployment payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38388/20]

View answer

Róisín Shortall

Question:

574. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position in relation to eligibility for the pandemic unemployment payment for persons who receive notice of termination of employment in 2020 and that notice period extends into 2021, that is, they are informed they are being made redundant in 2020 and given notice but that redundancy only takes effect in 2021; if, in these circumstances, a person may qualify for the pandemic unemployment payment assuming all other relevant criteria are met; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38389/20]

View answer

Claire Kerrane

Question:

579. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection if the pandemic unemployment payment will be kept open to new applicants beyond the end of 2020 to ensure certainty for workers if restrictions are reintroduced in January 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38542/20]

View answer

Seán Canney

Question:

589. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Social Protection if there are plans to cut off new applicants for the pandemic unemployment payment from 1 January 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38802/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 573, 574, 579 and 589 together.

I have secured Government approval today to keep the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) open to new applicants until March 31st 2021.

By keeping the PUP scheme open to new applicants until March 31st 2021, we are providing certainty to employees who may be returning to work in the run-up to the Christmas period. I have listened to the retail and hospitality sector and I know they have had concerns that closing PUP to new entrants on December 31st, as originally planned, would act as a disincentive to take up work. Workers now have peace of mind that if they have to re-apply for PUP in January, February or March, they will have an entitlement to the payment.

Disability Allowance

Questions (575)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

575. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the way in which redundancy payments affect the means test for disability allowance; if there are allowances that can be applied to the means test in respect of statutory or non-statutory redundancy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38390/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department operates a range of means-tested social assistance payments. Social welfare legislation provides that the means test takes account of the income and assets of the person (and spouse / partner, if applicable) applying for the relevant scheme.

For the purposes of the means assessment for Disability Allowance, as well as other social assistance schemes, redundancy payments are assessed as capital.

The assessment of capital reflects an expectation that people with reasonable amounts of capital and property are in a position to use that capital, or to realise the value of the property, to support themselves without having to rely solely on a means-tested welfare payment.

Disability allowance has the most generous capital disregard of any scheme operated by the Department. A recipient can have up to €50,000 in capital and still receive the full rate of payment, compared to €20,000 for most social welfare payments. The capital assessment formula for Disability Allowance is shown in the following table.

Capital

Weekly means assessed

First €50,000

Nil

Next €10,000

€1 per €1,000

Next €10,000

€2 per €1,000

Balance (any capital over €70,000)

€4 per €1,000

Based on this formula, a recipient can have about €112,000 means from capital and still claim the minimum rate of disability allowance.

Any proposals to disregard redundancy payments from the capital means assessment for means-tested social assistance schemes would have to be considered in an overall budgetary and policy context.

I trust this clarifies the position.