My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers, ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible. In general, social welfare schemes which involve medical or caring conditionality take the longest time to process.
These cases have a number of complex qualifying conditions that can take longer to process. As an example, before a decision can be made on entitlement to Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA), evidence must be provided and examined in respect of the additional care needs of the child. Similarly, before a decision can be made on entitlement to Carer’s Allowance (CA), evidence must be provided in respect of the care recipient’s care requirement, the level of care the carer provides and the caree's means. In considering applications for disability allowance (DA), evidence must be provided in respect of the person’s medical condition, the extent to which it restricts them from taking up employment, their means and their habitual residency.
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.
My Department is continually working to achieve processing times target which at time we deviate from. When this happens we continually renew our focus to rectify the matter.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.