Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 7 May 2003

Vol. 566 No. 1

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Mary Upton


764 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the carer's allowance can be included as reckonable earnings when making an application for a benefit payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11423/03]

Unemployment benefit and disability benefit are payable to people who suffer a temporary loss or interruption of employment, and where they have "average weekly reckonable earnings" greater than €88.88 in the relevant tax year. Where the applicant's average weekly earnings are equal to or less than €88.88, reduced rates are payable. The reduced rate of payment is determined according to the appropriate earnings band. A carer's allowance, or any social welfare payment, received by an applicant during the relevant tax year is not counted as reckonable earnings for this purpose.

Where a person qualifies for benefit at a reduced weekly rate, a top-up supplementary welfare allowance payment could be made depending on means.

The inclusion of social welfare payments as reckonable earnings would have substantial implications for the unemployment and sickness payment schemes. It would also have financial implications which would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

Michael Ring


765 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason the unemployment assistance of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has ceased, in view of the fact that they have submitted letters to prove that they are actively and genuinely seeking work. [11541/03]

To qualify for unemployment benefit a person must be available for and genuinely seeking work. The person concerned was in receipt of unemployment benefit from 30 September 2002. In the context of a review of her entitlement in February 2003, she was asked to provide details of her efforts to find work. Based on her response, a deciding officer disallowed her claim from 3 April 2003, on the grounds that she is not genuinely seeking work.

It is open to the person concerned to appeal this decision and a form for this purpose was issued to her on 16 April 2003.

Under social welfare legislation, decisions in relation to claims must be made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Willie Penrose


766 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason her Department is not prepared to give a full rebate on dentist fees paid by fully insured persons, who had dental treatment carried out during the course of the recent dental dispute and had the full cost of same; if she will review her stance in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11567/03]

Dental benefit is provided to insured workers through a panel of dentists who enter into agreements with my Department to provide treatments under the scheme on a contract basis and at fees specified in the agreements. Under these arrangements and with limited exceptions, treatments are provided to patients either free of charge or at a reduced fee and my Department pays the balance of the cost directly to the dentist at the agreed rates.

My Department had not been accepting claims during the dispute from dentists who were applying increased patient charges in breach of their contracts. Patients were advised to check that their dentist was continuing to operate within his-her contract with the Department and in cases where this was not so, they were advised to use the Department's lo-call service to get details of dentists adhering to the agreed fees for treatments.

Patients were also advised that the Department would not be in a position to refund any costs arising from treatment provided to them as private patients.

Patients who received treatment from dentists who were not at the time participating in the scheme did so outside the scope of the dental benefit scheme and they are not entitled to any benefit under the scheme in respect of such treatments.