Appeals officers are not required to be medically qualified. Their role is to decide any appeal where a person is dissatisfied with the decision given by a deciding officer in relation to entitlement to benefit under the Social Welfare Acts. They act in a quasi-judicial manner and the procedures involved are designed to ensure that every appellant gets full and fair consideration.
An oral hearing is required where the case cannot fairly be decided by way of summary decision. This may be because there are conflicts in the evidence presented by the parties or there is insufficient documentary evidence to enable an appeals officer to decide the case. Whether an oral hearing is required is at the discretion of the appeals officer. In 2011, some 35% of decisions by Appeals Officer were made following an oral hearing.