One of the main reasons there is a high disallowance rate of invalidity pension applications is that, in common with all the illness and disability schemes, claimants and their doctors often do not provide full and comprehensive details of their condition or disability until they receive notification of a disallowance. In this regard, it should be noted that invalidity pension is a long-term payment for insured people who are permanently incapable of work due to illness or incapacity. Accordingly, it is vital that comprehensive medical data is provided at the claim stage in order to facilitate a fully informed decision. I urge Members of the House to use every opportunity to get the message out that there is a need for comprehensive medical information from the individual and the medical advisers in order to have a reasonable chance of a claim being allowed.
As Members will be aware, the Department has a series of stakeholder forums with disability organisations and representative groups and the Department, in this context, takes every opportunity to emphasise the importance of providing full information at initial claim stage. With the recent improvements in information technology and other changes, I am happy to say we have now introduced a review process whereby illness benefit recipients are identified as potentially having an underlying entitlement to invalidity pension. This process utilises the medical and contribution information already available to the Department. The customers concerned are only required to complete a short supplementary application form. These claims are processed promptly, ensuring an improved and streamlined customer service.