asked the Minister for Social Welfare whether he has power, in the case where a man is in receipt of social welfare benefit or assistance, to divide such benefit or assistance into two portions and pay one portion to the man and one to his wife without any legal agreement or prior consultation of any kind with the man in question; and, if so, under what legislation he holds this power; subject to what investigations carried out by his Department he takes such action; what criteria are used to determine the necessity for such action; and what criteria are used to determine the proportion in which the said benefit or assistance shall be divided as between the man and his wife.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Payment of Social Welfare Benefits.
Social Welfare benefit or assistance, including any increases in respect of a wife and dependent children, is normally payable to the claimant, but I have power, where a claimant or beneficiary is unable for the time being to act, to appoint some other person to exercise on behalf of such claimant or beneficiary any right or power which such claimant or beneficiary may be entitled to exercise. In addition the Social Welfare (Overlapping Benefits) Regulations, 1953 to 1961, made under Section 32 of the Social Welfare Act, 1952, provide in the case of disability benefit that where the claimant is an inmate of any sanatorium, mental hospital, or similar institution supported by public funds or by a charity or voluntary subscriptions the benefit may, at my discretion, and after consultation, whenever possible, with the claimant be paid wholly or in part to the wife or applied wholly or in part for the advantage of the wife and children.
It is the practice whenever possible in any case where the benefit is to be paid wholly or in part to a person other than the claimant to obtain his written consent to the proposed payment. In the case of persons who are mentally ill, however, it is not always possible to obtain their consent to pay the benefit to or for the advantage of their dependants. In such cases detailed enquiry is made by officers of my Department to ascertain the dependency position. Each case is then considered on its merits.