Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Ceisteanna (752)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

752. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the decision to reduce a working family payment will be reviewed in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29194/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional financial support to employees on low earnings with children.  In order to qualify for WFP a person must have at least 1 qualified child.  In calculating entitlement to WFP no allowances can be made for personal, family, or household expenditure. The governing social welfare legislation provides that, once  WFP is awarded the rate remains the same for a 52 week period  while a person continues to satisfy the employment condition regardless of changes in circumstances or  income or expenditure.  There are only 2 exceptions to this rule as follows which permit a review of the WFP rate during the award period: 

An additional child. 

or

In the case of a WFP recipient who is also receiving a One Parent Family Payment (OPF) where this payment is terminated on account of their youngest child reaching the relevant age threshold during the WFP award period.    

In accordance with the governing legislation "a qualified child" for WFP is defined as a child who is under 18 years of age  or over 18 years and under 22 years who is attending full-time certified day education and who normally resides with the applicant. The governing legislation further provides that a child who attains the age of 22 years during an academic year is also regarded as a qualified child for WFP while in full-time education for the duration of that academic year.

The person concerned was in receipt of WFP for 4 qualified children and their claim was renewed on 20 December 2018 for the period 03 January 2019 to 01 January 2020 at the appropriate rate for 3 qualified children.  However their eldest child  was no longer deemed to be a qualified child for WFP at the time of renewal as they had reached the age of 22 years on 05 September 2018 in advance of their relevant academic year which commenced on 17 September 2018. 

Following an unsuccessful appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) the Department's decision of 20 December 2018 was upheld and the person  concerned was notified of the appeal outcome on 17 June 2019.

An Appeals Officer's decision is normally final and conclusive in the absence of any new facts or evidence.  However it may be subject to review by the Chief Appeals Officer where it is considered that the decision was incorrect because of an error relating to the law or facts.

In order to request a review of the Appeals Officer's decision the person concerned should enclose new facts or evidence to the SWAO or if seeking a review by the Chief Appeals Officer they must specify clearly the grounds for their review request.

However the legislation also provides that a customer retains the right to request a review of any WFP decision and that this right is not time limited. Accordingly the person concerned may forward their request for a review of the Department's decision of 20 December 2018 to Working Family Payment Renewals,  Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, St. Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, stating clearly the grounds for their review request. It should be noted that the subject of their disallowed appeal cannot be reviewed by the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.