Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (491)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

491. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of applicants for carer's allowance refused on an initial application and before a review or appeal of that decision took place in each year since 2010. [40938/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement.

Carer’s Allowance Claims disallowed at initial application:

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Jan-August2018

6,972

5,227

6,827

9,881

7,078

7,920

11,144

8,599

5,856

Carer's Allowance Review

Ceisteanna (492)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

492. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of reviews and appeals of decisions to refuse carer's allowance that were successful with the application being subsequently approved in each year since 2010. [40939/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised by my Department that it does not hold records of the number of carer’s allowance cases where the decision of the Deciding Officer is reviewed and subsequently overturned without recourse to appeal.

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.

The following table provides the details of the outcome of carer’s allowance appeals for the years 2010 to 2017 and to the end of September 2018.

The appeals which had a favourable outcome for the appellant consist of appeals which were either allowed in full or in part by an Appeals Officer, or which were resolved by way of a revised decision in favour of the appellant by a Deciding Officer.

There are a number of reasons why a decision which was refused at first instance might be successful on appeal and it is not necessarily the case that the first decision was incorrect. It is often the case that new evidence is provided with an appeal and that, as a result, the original decision may be revised by the Deciding Officer or Designated Person. This was the case in 37.1% of favourable appeal outcomes (appeals in respect of all schemes) in 2016, 37.6% of such outcomes in 2017 and 31.9% of such outcomes to the end of September 2018.

Where the decision was not revised by the Department in light of the appeal contentions, further evidence is often provided by the appellant as the appeal process proceeds and in addition, the Appeals Officer may gain insights when they meet the appellant in person at oral hearing which may influence the outcome of the appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Outcome of Carer’s Allowance Appeals 2010– 2017

-

Appeals Finalised

Revised Deciding Officer Decisions

Appeals Allowed by Appeals Officers

Appeals Partly Allowed by Appeals Officers

Appeals Disallowed by Appeals Officers

Withdrawn

2010

2,219

695

464

56

939

65

2011

3,197

618

726

117

1,645

91

2012

2,057

452

651

135

786

33

2013

3,722

1,040

990

131

1,505

56

2014

3,386

463

1,240

177

1,451

55

2015

3,491

579

1,352

155

1,355

50

2016

3,624

815

1,375

145

1,237

52

2017

3,416

780

1,204

161

1,199

72

2018 (to 30/9/2018)

1,913

297

745

99

701

71

Illness Benefit Reform

Ceisteanna (493)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

493. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason her Department does not recognise and did not engage with an association (details supplied) on the roll-out of the new illness benefit form; if she will now engage with it in relation to same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40968/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In August 2018, my Department introduced a new claim form and medical certificate to replace the previous forms used for certification of the Department’s Illness and Injury Benefit schemes. The introduction of new forms is designed to improve the administration of the certification process and to make claim and payment procedures more efficient for everyone involved – patients, GPs, and the Department.

The Department has a contract with GPs on the DEASP panel in respect of medical certification for Illness and Injury Benefit and wrote to just under 3,500 contracting GPs, setting out the changes involved and will continue to communicate with all panel holders as the new process beds in.

In addition, the Department consulted with the Irish Medical Organization (IMO) - a longstanding representative body with a broad range of GPs in its membership. The Department will continue to consult with the IMO under our Framework Agreement on a range of issues including e-certification, closed certification and changes to forms. The IMO as it is the body that is recognised as holding the representative rights for GPs.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Ceisteanna (494)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

494. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40969/18]

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 27th September 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.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (495)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

495. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) has not been considered habitually resident in respect of their supplementary welfare application; if this decision will be appealed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40973/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The customer made an application for Supplementary Welfare Allowance on 21 August 2018. The claim was disallowed as the customer was not habitually resident. A decision issued to the customer on 20 August 2018.

The applicant has requested an appeal which has been referred to an Appeals Office who will make a decision based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

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

Under Social Welfare legislation, decisions in relation to all aspects of claims are made by statutorily appointed Deciding Officers.

Each assistance claim receives a determination in relation to the Habitual Residence Condition in its own right and a decision is based on application of the legislation and guidelines to the particular individual circumstances of each case.

The determination of a person’s habitual residence is made in accordance with five factors which are set out in legislation, as follows:

(a) the length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country;

(b) the length and purpose of any absence from the State;

(c) the nature and pattern of the person’s employment;

(d) the person’s main centre of interest, and

(e) the future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances.

These five factors have been derived from European Court of Justice case law, and are generally sufficient to enable the deciding officer to determine whether a person’s present circumstances in Ireland indicate a temporary visit or habitual residence.

Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times

Ceisteanna (496)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

496. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times for appealing decisions on State pension (contributory) applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41022/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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.

All claim decisions taken by the Department’s Deciding Officers and Designated Persons are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer. In any year about 85% of all claims are awarded by the Department and just 1% are appealed. Nevertheless, the Department is concerned that these cases are dealt with as quickly as possible.

The average processing time for state pension (contributory) appeals to the end of September 2018 was 48.9 weeks for appeals requiring an oral hearing and 40.7 weeks for appeals which were determined by means of a summary decision.

The average processing time for state pension (contributory) appeals is considerably longer than the overall average appeals processing times (30.5 weeks for oral appeals and 25.2 for summary appeals) due to the nature of the issues under appeal. In the majority of cases the question under appeal concerns the insurance contribution record of the person concerned, and appeal processing times often include a significant period of time spent on additional investigations by social welfare inspectors of the Department.

The time taken to process an appeal reflects a number of factors including that the appeals process is a quasi-judicial process with appeals officers being required to decide all appeals on a ‘de-novo’ basis. In addition, appeals decisions are themselves subject to review by the High Court and decisions have to be formally written up to quasi-judicial standards.

In addition, a number of new Appeals Officers have joined the Appeals Office over the past 12-18 months to replace staff leaving on retirement. Given the complexity of the appeals process it takes some time for new staff to be trained up and develop expertise and this has led to somewhat longer processing times during this period. The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that appeal processing times continue to be a priority for her office.

Finally, it should be noted that an appellant can claim supplementary welfare allowance pending the outcome of their appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Support Grant

Ceisteanna (497)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

497. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's support grant for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41033/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Carer's Support Grant is an annual payment made to carers by my Department.

This customer's application was received by my Department on 3rd October 2018. While some initial processing of the claim has already taken place, further details have been requested by the Deciding Officer. On receipt of the requested details, the Deciding Officer will review the claim and if no further clarification is required, a formal, written decision will be issued as soon as possible.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Delays

Ceisteanna (498)

James Browne

Ceist:

498. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is satisfied that a person (details supplied) in County Wexford whose appeal for a carer’s allowance was allowed in August 2018 must wait three to four months until their payment is issued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41035/18]

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 child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

It is a condition for receipt of a CA that the person being cared for must have such a disability that as a result they require full-time care and attention.

This is defined as requiring from another person, continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions or continual supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself and likely to require that level of care for at least twelve months.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that this evidence did not indicate that the requirement for full-time care was satisfied.

The person concerned was notified on 15 February 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

My department were notified on 16 March 2018 that the person concerned had appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO). A submission in support of the decision was forwarded to the SWAO on 21 March 2018.

As a result of an appeals officer’s decision CA was awarded to the person concerned on 4 October 2018 with effect from 26 November 2017. The first payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 11 October 2018.

Arrears for the period 26 November 2017 to 10 October 2018 will also issue to the person concerned on 11 October 2018.

The person concerned was notified of the outcome on 4 October 2018.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (499)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

499. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a disability allowance payment will issue to a person (details supplies) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41053/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I confirm that my Department received an application for disability allowance from the person concerned on 25 September 2018. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and they will be notified directly of the outcome.

The processing time for individual disability allowance claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the three main qualifying criteria, the person’s circumstances and the information they provide in support of their claim.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (500)

John Curran

Ceist:

500. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to increase the 2018 fuel allowance to reflect increases (details supplied) that are being passed onto consumers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41082/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 27 weeks (a total of €607.50 each year) from October to April, to over 368,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €227 million in 2018. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household.

My Department also pays an electricity or gas allowance under the house hold benefits scheme at an estimated cost of €182 million in 2018.

Any decision to increase the fuel allowance payment would have budgetary consequences and would have to be considered in the context of budget negotiations.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which customers are unable to meet out of their own resources and this may include exceptional heating costs.

In 2016 the Government launched a comprehensive Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty following extensive public consultation. This Strategy is spearheaded by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. It sets out the Government’s commitment to protecting vulnerable households from energy poverty through a combination of supports, investment in schemes to improve energy efficiency, and energy efficiency awareness initiatives. One of the best ways to tackle fuel poverty in the long term is to improve the energy efficiency of the dwelling through proper building and household insulation. The Warmer Homes Scheme, administered by Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland, is designed to do that.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (501)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

501. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason the fuel allowance has not been paid to persons in receipt of full contributory pension and in receipt of an illness benefit payment when their total income is less than the maximum means of €343.30; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41093/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Fuel allowance is a means-tested payment to assist householders on long-term social welfare payments towards the cost of their heating needs. It is a secondary payment, which increases the weekly rate of a primary payment.

The main eligibility conditions that apply to the fuel allowance scheme are that a person must -

- be in receipt of a qualifying payment, and

- satisfy a means test, and

- either be living alone, or living with their spouse/dependent children, or other persons with a qualifying payment.

Such qualifying payments do not include Social Insurance based payments that are classed as short-term payments (less than 12 months), e.g., Jobseeker's Benefit and Illness Benefit, which are not means tested payments.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind he should provide the details to my officials who will examine it to ensure the person in question is claiming their full entitlements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Data

Ceisteanna (502)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

502. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of long-term unemployed (details supplied) eligible for community employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41094/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The aim of Community Employment (CE) is to enhance the employability and mobility of disadvantaged and unemployed persons by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. In addition it helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine.

CE projects are typically sponsored by groups wishing to benefit the local community, namely voluntary and community organisations and, to a lesser extent, public bodies involved in not-for-profit activities. Such projects provide a valuable service to local communities while at the same time providing training and educational opportunities to jobseekers. The Department’s priority in supporting CE is having access to schemes that can provide job seekers and other vulnerable groups with good quality work experience and training qualifications to support their progression into employment.

In general, CE placements for entrants aged between 21 and 55 years are for one year. However, if a CE participant is working towards a major award, their time can be extended up to an additional 2 years to complete this award. Those aged 55 years and over can remain on CE for 3 consecutive years. Those aged 62 years and over can remain on CE up to State Pension age, subject to satisfactory performance on the scheme and to annual approval by the Department. The places allocated for these participants within each individual CE scheme are subject to limitation criteria.

The following table shows the number of long term unemployed people in the areas referred to who could potentially be eligible for CE placement. In determining eligibility regard is given to the duration of any previous participation on the programme which has a lifetime participation limit and eligibility is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

-

Under 35

From 36 - 55

From 56 - 66

Both Male & Female - Potential Eligible

27

22

14

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (503)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

503. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an illness benefit payment for a person (details supplied); and the reason for the delay in relation to same. [41114/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department administers the Illness Benefit (IB) scheme to those customers who cannot work because they are sick or ill and who satisfy certain PRSI conditions.

The above named customer exhausted her IB entitlement in July of this year and in order to requalify, she must have worked for a further 13 weeks.

Correspondence has issued to this customer for her employer to complete and return to the office and her entitlement will then be reassessed.

In the meantime, if this customer is encountering financial difficulties, she should contact her Community Welfare Service at her local Intreo Centre.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (504)

Pat Breen

Ceist:

504. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 467 of 25 September 2018, when payments will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41119/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department have been dealing with the customer in question in relation to his Illness Benefit payments over the last few weeks.

We have reviewed payments that have issued and can confirm that the payment for the pay period 28/08/2018 to 03/09/2018 is showing as having been cashed on our system.

However, we note a further payment for the week 14/08/18 is showing as having issued but not yet cashed. In this regard, we have issued a Form of Indemnity via post (with a return addressed envelope) for this payment to the customer in order that we can reissue same.

Payment for this week has issued as per the usual arrangements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Claims Processing

Ceisteanna (505)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

505. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason she did not consult with an organisation (details supplied) when the redesigned claim and medical certificate forms were introduced for use in the illness and injury benefit schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41230/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In August 2018, my Department introduced a new claim form and medical certificate to replace the previous forms used for certification of the Department’s Illness and Injury Benefit schemes. The introduction of new forms is designed to improve the administration of the certification process and to make claim and payment procedures more efficient for everyone involved –patients, GPs, and the Department.

The Department has a contract with GPs on the DEASP panel in respect of medical certification for Illness and Injury Benefit and wrote to just under 3,500 contracting GPs, setting out the changes involved and will continue to communicate with all panel holders as the new process beds in.

In addition, the Department consulted with the Irish Medical Organization (IMO) - a longstanding representative body with a broad range of GPs in its membership. The Department will continue to consult with the IMO under our Framework Agreement on a range of issues, including e-certification, closed certification and changes to forms.

The IMO is the representative GP body which is affiliated with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and has been for many years. The Department will continue to hold substantive discussions with the IMO as it is the body that is recognised as holding the representative rights for GPs.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (506)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

506. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability allowance appeal by a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [41246/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence, has decided to allow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs 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.

Ministerial Communications

Ceisteanna (507)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

507. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if there is a policy regarding ministerial use of private email for Government business in her Department; and if so, if it will be published. [41522/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Email usage in my Department is governed by an Electronic Communications and Internet Use Policy and Agreement which all staff must sign and acknowledge upon login to the Department’s computers. Departmental users are prohibited from accessing their personal email i.e. gmail, hotmail and eircom web-based mail systems from within the Department.

There is no specific policy governing Ministerial use of private email.

Official Engagements

Ceisteanna (508)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

508. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she and-or officials in her Department attended the 2018 Ryder Cup; if so, the reason they attended; the days on which they attended; the officials they met from a Ryder Cup organisation or the European Tour; and the costs for each individual's attendance. [41535/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I did not attend the 2018 Ryder Cup nor did any of my Department's staff in their official capacity.