Carer's Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (1811)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1811. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of carer's benefit arrears for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35203/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a child or an adult in need of full-time care and attention. To qualify, the applicant must be providing full-time care and attention to a person requiring that level of care.

Under the provisions of the legislation a person can be considered to be providing full-time care and attention where they can show that adequate provision has been made for the care of the care recipient(s) while they engage in employment, self-employment or on training or courses of education, provided that the combined hours from such activities do not exceed 15 hours per week outside your home and the earnings from employment do not exceed €332.50 per week.

As the hours of employment in this case were not reduced to a maximum of 15 per week until 17/6/19, Carer's Benefit can only be awarded from the following Thursday 20/6/19. The payment can continue for 104 weeks from that date while all other qualifying conditions continue to be satisfied.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (1812)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1812. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a domiciliary care allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35291/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

An application for Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) was received from this lady on the 14th June 2019. Applications received early June 2019 are currently being finalised. The application will be considered by a deciding officer in due course and the decision notified to her as soon as possible.

Decisions on new applications are currently taking approximately 10 to 12 weeks.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Ceisteanna (1813)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1813. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae 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. [35292/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 31st May 2019. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought.

When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred 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 appeal 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.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (1814)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1814. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35304/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) claim made by this lady has now been awarded and is in payment. A decision letter issued to her on the 30th July 2019 to inform her that her DCA was awarded on appeal, with effect from 1st August 2018.

Arrears due for this period issued with her August 2019 payment on the 20th August 2019.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (1815)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1815. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount expended on the renewal of licences (details supplied) by her Department since 2009 to date in 2019; the amount projected to be spent on the renewal of such licences by her Department over the next five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35340/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The amount expended on Lotus Notes licences by my Department from 2009 to 2019 and the projected expenditure for the subsequent five years is outlined in the table below.

Year

Expenditure

2009

€58,399.73

2010

€25,524.13

2011

€14,532.10

2012

€12,523.45

2013

€18,901.64

2014

€5,337.59

2015

€6,213.35

2016

€6,751.10

2017

€6,722.44

2018

€6,722.44

2019

€6,722.54

Total

€168,350.41

Projected five Years

€33,612.21

Disability Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (1816)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

1816. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when disability allowance arrears will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35375/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance with effect from 14 March 2018. The first payment was made by her chosen payment method on 7 August 2019.

Arrears of payment due issued to this lady on 19 August 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (1817)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

1817. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the procedure for the review of a decision made regarding a claim for supplementary welfare allowance; her views on whether the review should be dealt with by a different person within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35376/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose of the scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes.

Supports provided under the SWA scheme can consist of a basic primary weekly payment and/or a weekly/monthly supplement in respect of certain expenses, as well as single exceptional needs payments (ENPs) and urgent needs payments (UNPs).

Determinations made in relation to claims made under Sections 196, 197 and 198 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation Act) 2005, namely basic weekly SWA and supplements, can be appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office under Section 311 of that Act.

Determinations made in relation to claims made under Sections 200, 201 and 202 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation Act) 2005, namely allowances-in-kind, ENPs and UNPs, can be reviewed by a SWA Reviewing Officer under Section 323 of that Act.

In all cases where new facts or evidence is produced by the applicant, the officer who made the initial determination, or another officer, can review the claim and make a revised determination where appropriate.

Decisions on claims are communicated to customers in writing, as well as the customer’s right to appeal or review, as appropriate.

I do not propose to amend these procedures at this time.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (1818)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

1818. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a deserted wives payment for a person (details supplied) will be investigated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35389/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Deserted Wife's Allowance is a means tested payment made to women under the age of 66 years who have no dependent children, who were deserted by their husband and who do not qualify for Deserted Wife's Benefit.

This person was in receipt of Deserted Wife’s Allowance from 30/6/1988 to 1/12/1990. The person was paid One Parent Family Payment from 6/12/1990 to 24/6/2009. The person is in receipt of Carer’s Allowance since 18/10/2007 to date.

The Deserted Wife’s Allowance scheme is closed to new applicants since 2/1/1997, it is therefore no longer possible to apply for this payment. There is no provision in legislation to revert to Deserted Wife’s Allowance.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (1819)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

1819. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for rent support in the case of a person (details supplied) will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35401/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Rent supplement claim of the person concerned in this case was disallowed and a decision letter issued accordingly on 13/2/17 as they had failed to provide necessary supporting documentation required to provide for an accurate assessment of entitlement.

The person concerned appealed the decision. The appeal was disallowed by an independent Review Officer on 21/3/18 as the person concerned had failed to provide documents required to establish an entitlement to rent supplement. I am advised that there has been no further contact with my Department by the person concerned.

It is open to the person concerned to contact this Department if she wishes to pursue a new application for a rent supplement.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Back to Education Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (1820)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

1820. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the extent to which the back to education allowance is approved in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35404/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised that my Department has been unable to facilitate an answer to the Deputy's question in the absence of a PPS number. The Department contacted the Deputy who attempted to get a PPS number but was unable to provide it in the time available.

It is open to the Deputy to contact my Department when a PPS number is available for reference.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (1821)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1821. 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. [35415/19]

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 19 June 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.

Treatment Benefit Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (1822)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

1822. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an arrangement is in place for costs to be covered in respect of optical procedures in circumstances in which the process has been carried out and paid for on a private basis; if recoupment can be made based on the full PRSI records of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Under the treatment benefit scheme, PRSI contributors with the required number of paid or credited contributions and their dependent spouses can avail of free eye examinations and the provision and repair of spectacles.

There is currently no provision under the scheme to cover any cost associated with cataract surgery or any of the associated procedures referred to in the Deputy's question.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Expenditure

Questions Nos. 1824 and 1825 with Question No. 1769.

Ceisteanna (1823)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

1823. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the annual budgetary cost of extending child benefit to students over 18 years of age until they complete their five- or six-year secondary education after transitioning from primary to secondary in the normal way; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35470/19]

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. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid, as of end-July 2019 to almost 630,000 families in respect of nearly 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending the payment in respect of full time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context. The estimated cost of extending child benefit as proposed is estimated to be in the region of €80-100 million.

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.

Questions Nos. 1824 and 1825 with Question No. 1769.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Ceisteanna (1826)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

1826. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on a review of a decision on an invalidity pension application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35517/19]

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 13 December 2018. He was disallowed IP on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. He was notified on 12 March 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review and appeal.

He requested a review of the decision and submitted further medical evidence in support of his request. Following a review of all the information available it has been decided that there is no change to the original decision. He was notified on 26 August 2019 of the outcome of the review.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (1827)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

1827. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons born before 1 September 1946 will be considered in the review of contributory pensions under the new aggregated contributions method of pension calculation; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are persons born before that date who took time out of the workplace to care for family and view it as unfair not to be included in the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35537/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020.

In January 2018, I announced the Government Decision to introduce a new interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to the calculation of State Pension that will allow pensioners who reached pension age from September 2012 (i.e., those born on or after 1 September 1946), to have their pension entitlement calculated by an interim “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) which will include up to 20 years of new HomeCaring Periods. 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. The TCA will ensure that the totality of a person’s social insurance contributions - as opposed to the timing of them - determines their final pension outcome. The HomeCaring Periods can be claimed for any year in which they occurred - they are not limited to years since 1994.

People whose pensions were decided under the 2000-2012 ratebands (i.e., those born before 1 September 1946) were subject to a significantly more generous payment regime than those who qualified before or afterwards, as a Yearly Average of only 20 contributions per year (out of a maximum of 52) could attract a 98% pension. The effect of those changes, as it impacted upon those new pensioners since 2012, will be familiar to anyone who followed the debate on this matter over the last 6 years. If pre-2012 pensioners were also allowed avail of HomeCaring Credits, their arrangements, as a group, would continue to be significantly more generous than those of post-2012 pensioners. There would also be a very significant cost which would be expected to be of the order of several hundred millions of euros each year. This in turn could significantly impact funds for future pension increases with consequential implications for pensioner poverty.

For those with insufficient contributions to meet the requirements for a State pension (contributory), they may qualify for a means tested State pension (non-contributory), the maximum personal rate for which is €237 (over 95% of the maximum rate of the contributory pension). This rate of payment does not include rent allowance, household benefits or fuel allowance. Alternatively, if their spouse is a State pensioner and they have significant household means, their most beneficial payment may be an Increase for a Qualified Adult, based on their personal means, and amounting up to 90% of a full contributory pension.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Farm Assist Scheme

Ceisteanna (1828, 1829)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1828. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the means test will be increased for farm assist (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35539/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1829. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if changes (details supplied) to the means test for farm assist will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35540/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1828 and 1829 together.

The farm assist (FA) scheme is a means-tested payment for farmers on low incomes and is similar to jobseeker's allowance (JA). To qualify for the scheme a person must satisfy the means test and be engaged in farming. Recipients retain the advantages of the JA scheme such as the retention of secondary benefits and access to activation programmes. The 2019 Revised Estimates provide for expenditure of some €72 million for the FA scheme (which also includes the Fish Assist provision).

The assessment of means for the purpose of qualifying for FA is designed to reflect the actual net income from farming. Income and expenditure figures for the preceding year are generally used as an indicator of the expected position in the following year. However, account is taken of any exceptional circumstances to ensure that the assessment reflects the current situation accurately. In the case of capital assets, such as farm machinery and equipment, the capital cost is not allowed as an expense. An allowance is made for the depreciation of these assets instead. Where farm machinery or equipment is purchased outright, an allowance for depreciation relative to their usage is made. There would be a cost to increase the depreciation to a standard rate of 10% which could only be considered in a budgetary context.

Farm machinery depreciation is calculated on the gross output of the farm, not on the gross income. Gross Output is the sum of all sales and grants plus any other farm income, less the cost of animal purchases only (expenses are not included). The means assessment for the FA scheme, including the current guidelines for determining depreciation of farm equipment and machinery is detailed on the Departmental website at the following link: http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Farm-Means---Assessment-of-Income-from-Farming.aspx.

Once land is under forestry it is considered as being used for husbandry and it does not attract a capital value for means assessment purposes. The forest premium scheme applies to farmers and others who have land under afforestation. Premiums paid under this scheme are assessed as farm income for the FA means test. However, allowances are made in respect of any necessary expenditure incurred with regard to the scheme. The afforestation grant scheme is available to private landowners for projects approved by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine. It is designed to cover only the costs involved in planting, maintenance etc so monies accrued from this grant are not assessable as means for FA.

I want to advise the Deputy of the improvements to the FA scheme in recent years. Budget 2017 fully reversed the previous cuts to the means test. The changes included that 70% of farm income is now assessed as means, down from 100% (which is equivalent to a 30% income disregard) and there is an additional annual means disregard of €254 for each of the first two children and €381 for the third and subsequent children. Budget 2019 also provided for a €5 per week increase in the personal rate of payment for FA from €198 to €203 per week from 25 March 2019 with proportionate increases for qualified adults and children.

Any further changes to the FA scheme would have to be considered in a budgetary context and within the scope of the overall resources available for welfare improvements.

Gender Recognition

Question No. 1831 answered with Question No. 1769.

Question No. 1832 answered with Question No. 1830.

Ceisteanna (1830, 1832)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

1830. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35547/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

1832. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when decisions will be taken on the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35557/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1830 and 1832 together.

In July 2018, I published the Report of the Group Established to Review the Operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015. The recommendations in the report of the Review Group involve issues that are complex and it has been necessary to take some time to take advice and consider them in detail. That said, a number of recommendations are more administrative in nature and these are currently being progressed at official level.

A report is being prepared under section 7 of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, in response to the review, and I expect to be in a position to lay it before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the near future.

Question No. 1831 answered with Question No. 1769.
Question No. 1832 answered with Question No. 1830.

Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (1833)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1833. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a partial capacity application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35560/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Partial Capacity Benefit allows a person who has been in receipt of Illness Benefit for six months and who may not have full capacity for work, to return to employment and continue to receive a partial or full payment from the Department.

The rate of payment is based on the assessment of the person's restriction on capacity for work; either moderate, severe or profound and the person retains 50%, 75%, or 100% of their Illness Benefit payment respectively.

The Partial Capacity Benefit claim from the person concerned has been processed. A letter issued on the 16th August 2019 informing him that following a review of the medical evidence provided, he has been assessed as having a severe restriction on his capacity for work.

The person concerned should inform the Department in advance of starting work in order for his Partial Capacity Benefit to be put into payment.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (1834)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1834. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the names of external consultancies that delivered and continue to deliver advice and training on all aspects of GDPR in the context of preparedness and ongoing upskilling of staff regarding the regulation; the cost expended on the external advice and training of same to date, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35575/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The table below contains my Department's expenditure to date on external consultancies and bodies who delivered training on all aspects of GDPR. In addition my Department undertakes in house training and awareness initiatives on GDPR on an ongoing basis including a data protection e-learning training module which is available to all staff.

External consultancies

Cost

ALLONE Corporate Solutions Ltd.

€2,245

Bridgecastle Info Management T/A Castlebridge

€36,264

CMG Professional training

€2,350

Institute of Public Administration

€1,350

International Association of Privacy Professionals

€445

Irish Academy of Computer Training (IACT)

€36,912

Law Society of Ireland

€1,650

PDP

€3,990

Public Affairs Ireland

€43,052

Total

€128,258

Child Benefit Eligibility

Ceisteanna (1835)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

1835. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if child benefit will be extended to families in receipt of the working family payment whose children are over 18 years of age and still attending second level school; her views on the fact that a school child sitting the leaving certificate is fully dependent on his or her parents and the loss of €140 a month is considerable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35596/19]

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. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid, as of end-July 2019 to almost 630,000 families in respect of nearly 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending the payment in respect of full time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

In addition to the Working Family Payment, 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 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.