Disability Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (678)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

678. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) has a right to apply for a disability allowance in their own right. [9509/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

This gentleman is a qualified adult dependant on Invalidity Pension (INVP) since 15 June 2017.

Disability Allowance (DA) is a weekly allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged 16 or over and under the age of 66. This disability must be expected to last for at least one year and the allowance is subject to a medical examination, a means test and habitual residency conditions.

The weekly rate of DA payment depends on the amount of weekly means assessed. The legislative provisions regarding DA state that means will be assessed from all income which the claimant or claimant’s spouse may reasonably expect to receive during the year following the date of their claim.

It is open to the person concerned to apply DA in their own right.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the deputy.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (679)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

679. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her Department's capital allocation in each of the years 2018 to 2022; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [9518/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department’s capital allocation for the years 2018 to 2022 is outlined in the table. However, this is subject to ongoing review in the context of the annual Estimates process.

The capital allocation will be split across three subheads i.e. A.2.v Office Equipment and External IT Services, A.2.vi Office Premises Expenses and A.2.ix eGovernment Related Projects. It is intended that the allocation will primarily assist the Department in delivering additional IT modernisation and allow for the significant refurbishment of the Department’s Áras Mhic Dhiarmada and other buildings in the coming years.

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

€10m ( In addition, the Department has sought approval to carry over €1m in capital from 2017 – this has been reflected in the 2018 Revised Estimates)

€14m

€15m

€16m

€17m

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (680)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

680. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9559/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

When a State pension non-contributory recipient dies, if the deceased’s surviving spouse, civil-partner or cohabitant is a recipient of a payment from the Department, or had been the beneficiary of an increase for qualified adult on the deceased’s pension payment, they are eligible for a 6-weeks-after-death payment.

The payment was processed for the person concerned in July 2017. As the Department’s system showed that two of the six weeks’ payments had already been collected at the Post Office, only four weeks payment was issued. The Department is currently liaising with An Post to have the matter resolved and will contact the person concerned when this has been finalised.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Data

Ceisteanna (681)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

681. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of applications her Department received in respect of invalidity pensions in each of the years 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018; the number of those received that were approved or refused in each year; the number of applications her Department received in respect of disability allowance in each of the years 2016 and 2017 and to date in 2018; the number of those received that were approved or refused in each year respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9606/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following table:

Number of Invalidity Pension and Disability Allowance claims Registered, Awarded or Rejected in 2016, 2017 and January 2018.

Invalidity Pension

Year

Registered

Awarded

Rejected

2016

9,134

7,467

3,909

2017

10,458

8,976

4,579

January 2018

1,180

803

485

Disability Allowance

Year

Registered

Awarded

Rejected

2016

23,804

16,669

12,027

2017

23,657

17,469

12,022

January 2018

1,798

1,742

957

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Ceisteanna (682)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

682. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if invalidity benefit has been approved for a person (details supplied). [9609/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 20th February 2018, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (683)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

683. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the progress to date in the determination of an appeal for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9613/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 30 January 2018. The person concerned indicated at the oral hearing that he wished to submit further evidence in support of his appeal. On receipt of same, the Appeals Officer will consider the appeal in the light of all of the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision when the appeal has been determined.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (684)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

684. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if all contributory pension applications after 30 March 2018 will be assessed under both the total contribution approach and the rate band changes which were introduced in September 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9622/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

On the 23rd January, the Government agreed to a proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands to have their pension entitlement calculated by a new “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) which will include up to 20 years of a new HomeCaring credit. This approach is expected to significantly benefit many people, particularly women, whose work history includes an extended period of time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in a caring role. It will make it easier for pensioners assessed under the yearly average model, to qualify for a higher rate of the State Pension (contributory). The TCA will ensure that the totality of a person’s social insurance contributions - as opposed to the timing of them - determines a final pension outcome.

The new TCA with substantial HomeCaring credits will be available to all people who reached pension age after 1st September 2012, when the revised rate bands took effect.

Under the new arrangements a person who has a 40 year record of paid and credited social insurance contributions, subject to a maximum of 20 years of the new HomeCaring credits, will qualify for a maximum contributory pension where they satisfy the other qualifying conditions for the scheme.

The new TCA for pensioners assessed under the 2012 rate band changes, comes into effect from the 30th March 2018. The Department will invite over 40,000 pensioners, currently assessed under the 2012 rate band changes, to have their pensions recalculated under TCA to determine if they qualify for a higher rate of entitlement. However, as it will take time to design and set up administrative processes, and the necessary IT systems, the Department expects to send out the invitations from Q4 2018 and to begin payments, including arrears for any period from 30thMarch 2018, from Q1 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Insurance Rates

Ceisteanna (685)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

685. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the class PRSI stamp that secretarial assistants and parliamentary assistants working in the Houses of the Oireachtas pay; and the benefits that accrue from this class of PRSI payment. [9639/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Secretarial assistants and parliamentary assistants working in the House of the Oireachtas are engaged directly by members. The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission has the power to regulate the provision of “secretarial facilities” to Members and “qualifying parties”, though the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform retains authority for terms and conditions of employment (e.g. pay and hours of work).

I have no specific information on the class of PRSI which is paid by current members of staff. In most cases it will be PRSI Class A, the common PRSI class for employment. However, where staff are over 66 or engaged through a contract for services different classes could apply.

The benefits that can accrue from PRSI Class A contributions, subject to meeting the qualifying criteria, are:

- adoptive benefit;

- carer’s benefit;

- guardian's payment (contributory);

- health and safety benefit;

- illness benefit;

- invalidity pension;

- jobseeker’s benefit;

- maternity benefit;

- occupational injuries benefit;

- paternity benefit;

- state pension (contributory);

- treatment benefit;

- widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s (contributory).

If staff have concerns that the wrong class of PRSI is being paid, they may apply to my Department’s Scope Section for a determination on the status of their employment and the correct class of PRSI.

I hope that this clarifies the matter.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (686)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

686. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9671/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

As the applicant’s spouse has a farm, the matter was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) on 22 February 2018 to assess the level of care being provided, assess means and confirm that all the conditions for receipt of carer’s allowance are satisfied.

Once the SWI has reported, a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Wage Subsidy Scheme

Ceisteanna (687)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

687. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to increase the wage subsidy scheme payment in line with the increase in the minimum wage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9675/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The objective of the wage subsidy scheme (WSS) is to increase the likelihood of people with disabilities participating in the open labour market by providing financial incentives to private sector employers. The WSS does this by allowing the employer to make up the cost of a potential shortfall in productivity through grant assistance.

The subsidy scheme is operated under three strands based on the number of employees with a disability employed. To participate on the WSS an employee must work a minimum of 21 hours per week up to a maximum of 39 hours per week. The basic rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour. In addition to a fixed hourly rate per employee (Strand 1), Strands 2 and 3 may be paid in cases where an employer has three or more employees participating on the scheme. There are currently 2,520 participants employed through the scheme and the estimated cost of the scheme in 2018 is €23 million.

On an annual basis, the minimum subsidy that an employer can receive is €5,787, where they employ one employee working 21 hours per week, while the maximum subsidy is €17,122 where the employer is benefitting from all three stands and where the employee is working 39 hours per week.

The design of the scheme does not provide that the basic hourly subsidy rate of the WSS is explicitly linked to the National Minimum Wage. Hence, the WSS rate was not reduced when the National Minimum Wage was reduced in 2011. I have no plans to link the WSS rate with the increase in the National Minimum Wage or to increase the hourly rate of subsidy at this time. However, the scheme is kept under ongoing review and any potential changes to the rate of subsidy could only be considered as part of the wider Budget and estimates process.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (688)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

688. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made to reinstate the full illness benefit claim by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9739/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of Partial Capacity Benefit which is a scheme that permits persons who are in receipt of Illness Benefit payments to undertake limited work and received a reduced amount of Illness Benefit.

Recently, the person concerned was fully incapacitated for a short period and applied for full rate Illness Benefit for that period. I can confirm that the person concerned has had arrears calculated and these will be included with their next payment.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Public Services Card

Ceisteanna (689)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

689. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the forms of photographic identification a person can use to obtain a public services card. [9782/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

When a person attends for SAFE registration, they are asked to bring certain documents with them. The photographic identification requested depends on the nationality of the person concerned.

Non-EEA nationals are required to present a current valid passport. EEA nationals (apart from Irish and UK nationals) are required to present either a current valid passport or a national ID card. UK nationals are required to present either a passport or a driving licence and birth certificate.

Irish nationals are requested to bring either their driving licence or passport, but SAFE registration can proceed if these are not provided. In such cases, a supervisor interview takes place to verify the person’s identity using the data held by the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (690)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

690. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position of persons on a transition pension prior to the changes being introduced in 2013 in respect of eligibility for the State pension (contributory); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9811/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The State pension (transition) (SPT) was introduced in 1970 when it was known as the retirement pension and was designed to bridge the gap between the standard social welfare pension age, which at that time was 70 years of age, and retirement age. Over time, the age for State pension (contributory) was reduced to 66 years. The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 provided that State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This began in January 2014 with the abolition of the SPT available from 65 for those who satisfied the qualifying conditions, thereby standardising State pension age for all at 66 years, which is the current State pension age. This will increase to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028.

Recipients of the State pension (transition) were automatically transferred to the State Pension (contributory) when they reached their 66th birthday. The level of entitlement for both payments was calculated using the Yearly Average Contributions method.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.