My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.
In general, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process. One such example is the carer's allowance (CA) scheme.
To qualify for CA, the carer must show that they are habitually resident in the State, that they are providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires this level of care and that their means are less than the statutory limit.
It is also the case that in order to register their claim and establish an early entitlement or claim date many people submit a claim without first securing all of the necessary supporting documentation. While this does ensure that people will be paid with arrears from an early "effective" date it does mean that claims take longer to process.
The claim processing is kept under active review, with all possible steps taken to improve processing times. This includes the temporary assignment of additional resources and the review of business processes, to ensure the efficient processing of applications. These steps have resulted in a significant reduction in the number of carers claims awaiting decision and the processing time continues to improve from an average of 17 weeks at the end of December 2018 to an average of 12 weeks currently.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.