Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (896)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

896. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23672/19]

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.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 24 April 2019. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Question No. 898 answered with Question No. 892.

Ceisteanna (897)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

897. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23676/19]

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 on 24th May 2019 to an Appeals Officer 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 trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 898 answered with Question No. 892.

Working Family Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (899)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

899. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a working payment will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23721/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work family payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

The average waiting time for processing new WFP applications is currently 7 weeks. An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 19 March 2019.

The person concerned was awarded WFP on 24 May 2019 with effect from 11 April 2019 to 08 April 2020. The first weekly payment and all arrears owing issued to their nominated bank account on 28 May 2019.

The person concerned was notified on 24 May 2019 of this decision and of the right of review and appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (900)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

900. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a jobseeker's benefit application will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23749/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned made a Jobseekers application at the end of January 2019. A decision to refuse Jobseekers Benefit was made on 10th April 2019, and the person concerned was notified in writing including his right to appeal the decision.

Subsequently, Jobseekers Allowance payment (at a weekly rate of €203.00) was awarded on 25th April 2019.  In the interim period, the person concerned was in receipt of Supplementary Welfare Allowance from the Department’s Community Welfare Service for the days/weeks when he was unemployed.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (901)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

901. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will bring forward measures to standardise payslips across all employment in view of the fact that some employers issue payslips that are indecipherable to ordinary workers (details supplied). [23755/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Payment of Wages Act 1991 sets out that the information supplied on a payslip must clearly specify the gross amount of wages and the nature and amount of any deductions from pay.

Section 4(1) of the Act provides as follows:

“An employer shall give or cause to be given to an employee a statement in writing specifying clearly the gross amount of the wages payable to the employee and the nature and amount of any deduction therefrom and the employer shall take such reasonable steps as are necessary to ensure that both the matter to which the statement relates and the statement are treated confidentially by the employer and his agents and by any other employees.”

Section 4(4) of the Act provides that an employer who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €2,500.

Therefore, existing legislation already prescribes the information that must be clearly specified on a payslip and allows for the imposition of a penalty for failure to comply with this legislation.

Where an individual believes they are being deprived of employment rights applicable to employees they may refer a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) where the matter can be dealt with by way of mediation or adjudication leading to a decision that is enforceable through the District Court. WRC inspectors can also be asked to investigate certain breaches. Complaints can be made on a single online complaint form available at the WRC’s website www.workplacerelations.ie.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Paternity Benefit

Ceisteanna (902)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

902. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of new fathers who have availed of paternity benefit across counties Roscommon and Galway since it was introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23776/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information requested in respect of the number of people that have availed of paternity benefit, in counties Galway and Roscommon, from it's introduction on 1st September 2016 to 31st May 2019, is set out in the following table.

PATERNITY BENEFIT Claimants by County Breakdown

County

Awarded 1st September 2016 - 31st December 2016

Awarded 2017

Awarded 2018

Awarded 1st January 2019 – 31st May 2019

Total Awarded

Galway

292

1536

1388

664

3880

Roscommon

59

340

273

140

812

TOTAL

351

1876

1661

804

4692

I hope that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Eligibility

Ceisteanna (903)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

903. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend child benefit in circumstances (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23784/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. Between the ages of 16 and 18, payment continues for children who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid to almost 632,000 families in respect of over 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of €2.1 billion this year.

Payments cease when the child reaches 18 years of age. Any proposal to extend payment beyond the age of 18 would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Families on low incomes may be able to avail of a number of social welfare schemes that support children in full-time education until the age of 22, including:

- Increase for a Qualified Child (IQCs) with primary social welfare payments;

- the Working Family Payment for low-paid employees with children;

- the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

These schemes provide targeted assistance that is directly linked to household income and thereby support low-income families with older children participating in full-time education.

I trust that this helps clarify the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (904)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

904. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on a rate band review of the rate of State pension being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23786/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands. These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

In March 2019, the person concerned submitted an application for HomeCaring periods. A review outcome has now issued to the person concerned, outlining details of their increase to maximum rate State pension contributory. Arrears of payment, backdated 30 March 2018, will issue shortly.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

JobPath Data

Ceisteanna (905)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

905. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount withheld in the context of sanctions imposed on persons who failed to fully comply with their referrals to the JobPath scheme since the scheme commenced to date; the amount that was refunded to persons on appeal over the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department is committed, under Pathways to Work, to incentivise the take-up of activation opportunities, including implementing sanctions for failure to engage without good cause. The legislation underpinning the application of penalty rates is provided for in the Social Welfare Act, 2010. Penalty rates were introduced as a means of encouraging jobseekers to engage with activation measures and co-operate with efforts of the Department to assist them in securing employment.

Penalty rates can only be applied by a Deciding Officer of my Department in specific circumstances and in line with the legislation. A full examination of all the facts of each case is undertaken and only then is a penalty rate applied, if appropriate. It should be noted that penalty rates are only applied as a last resort and if dissatisfied with a decision to apply a penalty rate it is open to a Jobseeker to appeal that decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

In circumstances where a Jobseeker has failed to engage without good cause in the activation process, a penalty rate can be applied followed by a nine week disqualification of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Benefit. The disqualification may only be imposed in circumstances where a person, who has already had his or her rate reduced by way of a penalty rate for a period of not less than 21 calendar days (3 weeks) and continues to refuse or fail, without good cause, to engage with the Department’s activation service. However it is important to note that at any time while either a penalty rate or a nine week disqualification is in place, if the customer re-engages with the Department’s activation service the sanctions will be lifted immediately and normal payment restored.

As at the end of April 2019, there were 75,000 customers engaged with JobPath of which 487, or 0.6%, had a penalty rate applied to their Jobseeker’s claim. This figure is consistent with the overall level of penalty rates applied across all Jobseekers.

Unfortunately further data in relation to the question posed in this case is not available.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (906)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

906. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be included in the review of pensions under the total contributions approach. [23802/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands. These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

The person concerned applied for and was awarded a reduced rate State pension (contributory) in 2013. However as they were already in receipt of an increase for qualified adult on their spouse's pension at a more beneficial rate their State pension (contributory) was withdrawn.

The person concerned has 707 reckonable paid contributions, which combined with the maximum permissible number of HomeCaring periods and reckonable credits (1,040, as set out in legislation) results in a payment rate of 83.99% of the maximum rate of pension. The person is already in receipt of the equivalent to 89.6% of the maximum rate of pension, (or €222.50 per week), so is better off to remain as a qualified adult on their spouse's pension.

A review outcome letter has issued to the person concerned, which includes a copy of their social insurance contribution record.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (907)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

907. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for disability allowance by a person (details supplied). [23803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Disability allowance (DA) is subject to periodic reviews. This gentleman's entitlement was recently reviewed and it was established that he no longer satisfies the habitual residence condition for receipt of DA. The person concerned was notified of this on 9 April 2019.

A request for a review was received and a review of this decision was carried out. The original decision was upheld and the person concerned was notified in writing on 24 May 2019. He was also advised of his right to appeal this decision to the independent social welfare appeals office. No request for an appeal has been received.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (908)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

908. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for disability allowance by a person (details supplied) will be expedited and approved. [23812/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I confirm that an application from this gentleman for disability allowance (DA) was received by the Department on 14 March 2019.

The processing time for individual DA 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.

The application has been referred to a social welfare inspector (SWI) for a report on the person’s means and circumstances. Once the SWI has submitted his/her report to DA section, a decision will be made on the application and this gentleman will be notified directly of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (909)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

909. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if disability allowance will be approved for a person (details supplied). [23816/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I can confirm that my Department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 20 February 2019.

On 10 May 2019 and on the 16 May 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on her eligibility. On receipt of this information a decision will be made on her DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (910)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

910. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for an invalidity pension by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23818/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The Department received a claim for IP for the gentleman concerned on 11 March 2019. This claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied . He was notified on 05 June 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Offices

Ceisteanna (911)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

911. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is considering amalgamating her Department’s services in Dundalk, County Louth, which would involve the closure of one or possibly two local welfare offices; if her attention has been drawn to the hardship that such a decision would cause to service users that are elderly or that have mobility issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23827/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department is constantly looking at ways to improve services and supports. Community Welfare Services in Dundalk are delivered across three locations, including the local Intreo Centre which also provides a one-stop-shop for the full range of income and employment support services. All of the offices are located within a close distance of each other.

Local management are currently finalising proposals to provide a more integrated and efficient Community Welfare Service to customers in the town, by eliminating any inconvenience in having to travel between locations, expanding opening hours and reducing the need for queuing. The co-location of the team would ensure that an official is always on hand to deal with emergency situations.

The proposal will not cause any additional hardship to service users that are elderly or have mobility issues. The purpose of the proposed move is, in fact, to improve the quality and accessibility of the service and minimise inconvenience to customers. As at present, arrangements will continue be made to conduct a home visit to any customer who has a difficulty visiting the office.