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Social Welfare Payments

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 February 2022

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Questions (315, 325)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

315. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which the waiting time for decision in respect of applications for various social welfare payments has been shortened; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5740/22]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

325. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which the system of processing of applications for various social welfare payments continues to be in line with the most expeditious practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5750/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 315 and 325 together.

My Department understands the many pressures faced by customers and always seeks to ensure that claims are handled quickly and efficiently. I am pleased to report that claim processing is up to date, with processing targets met, or exceeded, on average for all the main scheme areas.

Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Schemes that require a high level of documentary evidence from the customer, particularly in the case of illness-related schemes, can take longer to process. Similarly, means-tested payments can also require more detailed investigations and interaction with the customer, thereby lengthening the decision-making process.

While there have been high volumes of Covid Enhanced Illness Benefit applications over the past month as a result of the transmission of the Omicron variant, 92% of these applications are being processed within a week. Applications that require a manual intervention are taking approximately two weeks to process but my officials are working hard to minimise any delays. There are no backlogs arising in respect of standard Illness Benefit applications.

Overall, I am very pleased that my Department continues to ensure the customer experience has not been diminished by the effects of Covid 19 and that customer service has been maintained at a high level. The average processing time in 2021 across all schemes compared to 2019 is outlined in the table below:

Social Welfare Scheme

Average weeks to award in 2019

Average weeks to award in 2021

State Pension Contributory

7

6

Widow's Contributory Pension

4

1

State Pension Non-Contributory

10

6

Jobseeker's Allowance

2

2

Jobseeker's Benefit

1

1

One Parent Family Payment

4

3

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

1

1

Maternity Benefit

6

6

Paternity Benefit

6

6

Carer's Allowance

14

4

Carer's Benefit

12

4

Disability Allowance

13

6

Invalidity Pension

9

7

Illness Benefit

1

1

Occupational Injury Benefit

1

1

Child Benefit

2

3

Working Family Payment

6

2

Domiciliary Care Allowance

10

10

Household Benefits

1

1

Free Travel

2

1

The Department has introduced a wide range of initiatives aimed at streamlining the processing of claims, supported by modern technology in recent years. Operational processes, procedures and the organisation of work are continually reviewed to ensure that processing capability is maximised.

In addition, the staffing needs of the Department are regularly reviewed, having regard to workloads and the competing demands arising, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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