Pensions Data

Ceisteanna (576)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

576. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the projected pension rate and total reckonable contributions for a person (details supplied) on their retirement in 2022 based on the pension changes which are due to come into effect in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49948/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Pension entitlement is assessed on the eligibility conditions applicable on the date an individual reaches pension age. State pension age will increase to 67 in 2021. As the person concerned was born in 1955 they will reach pension age in 2022.

For those who reach state pension age since September 2012, two different methods of calculating entitlement to a contributory state pension are used, the yearly averaging (YA) approach used since the inception of the contributory pension in 1961 and an interim total contributions approach (TCA). The customer receives the higher rate of the two calculations.

Future pension entitlement will likely depend on factors such as a person’s social insurance record, their attachment to the workforce, and their countries of employment. It is advisable that all contributors maintain their social insurance record over their working life.

The National Pensions Framework (2010) announced that the Government would introduce a new method for calculating State pension (contributory). It proposed that the yearly averaging system will be replaced with a TCA which would make the level of pension paid directly proportionate to the number of social insurance contributions made by a person over their working life. The implementation of the TCA is subject to the necessary legislation being enacted and supporting structures in place.

I have arranged for a copy of their social insurance contribution record to issue to the person concerned. They should apply for State pension (contributory) approximately 6 months before reaching pension age. Their entitlement to pension will then be determined on the basis of the eligibility conditions in force and they will be notified in writing of the decision.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (577)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

577. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a person (details supplied) will receive confirmation if a balance of payment is owing from their UK state pension made to the authorities here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49949/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Following an assessment of the customer's payments from my Department, I am advised that there is no overpayment. Arrangements are being made for the full arrears of €857.06 to be issued to the customer.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (578)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

578. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of staff employed in the partial capacity benefit section; and the average processing time for a partial capacity benefit application. [49972/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

There are currently nine officers working within my Departments Partial Capacity Benefit team. The average processing time for decisions on new applications currently stands at four weeks.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Food Poverty

Ceisteanna (579)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

579. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the latest available data on food poverty; the way in which Ireland compares to the rest of the EU in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49975/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Data from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) published by the CSO includes two items from relating specifically to the consumption of food as part of the 11 item deprivation measure:

- the percentage of the population unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day;

- the percentage of the population unable to afford a roast once a week.

The most recent available SILC data is for 2018 and was published by the CSO on the 28 November 2019.

In 2018, 1.6% of the population were “unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day”. This is similar to the 2017 rate of 1.7%. While comparable EU data for 2018 is not yet available, the EU average in 2017 was 7.9%.

Again in 2018, 4% of the population were “unable to afford a roast once a week”. This is a decrease from the 2017 rate of 5.3%. No EU data are published for this indicator.

Overall, the latest deprivation data from the 2018 SILC is positive. The 2018 rate is 15.1% compared to 18.8% in 2017. This is a significant reduction and a continuation of the yearly decline in deprivation rates since the peak level of 30.5% in 2013.

This Department administers the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which provides food and basic consumer products to people most at risk. In 2018, my Department spent €5.5m on the FEAD programme through the ongoing distribution of food and the distribution of material assistance in the areas of school kits and new migrants. Though a network of charitable partnership organisations, the Department distributed over 1,300 tonnes of food to almost 152,000 people in communities throughout the country, either in the form of food parcels or as meals prepared by charitable organisation. To date in 2019, €5.2m has been spent on the FEAD programme.

Difficulty in meeting food and other regular ongoing needs may result from a family encountering exceptional once-off expenditures. In this regard, under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, my Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. Any persons who consider that they have an entitlement to an exceptional needs payment should contact my Department’s Community Welfare Service at their local office.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (580)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

580. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49986/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Based on the evidence supplied in support of this person’s application, his application for disability allowance (DA) was disallowed on the grounds that the medical qualifying condition was not satisfied. The person in question was notified in writing of this decision on 7 October 2019.

They requested a review of the decision by a deciding officer (DO) and submitted additional medical evidence for consideration on 21 October 2019. When a decision is made on this additional information the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

This gentleman has requested an appeal of the decision on his DA and an appeal form was posted to him for completion on 27 November 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (581)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

581. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49999/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

According to the records held by my Department, the person concerned has not recently submitted an application for a Jobseeker’s payment.

In addition to a number of other qualifying conditions for Jobseeker's Benefit, a person must be available for, capable of and genuinely seeking full-time employment to be eligible for this scheme.

It would appear that as the person concerned is currently submitting illness certs for credit purposes only and is also attending a full-time course of study she may not satisfy the conditions for the receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment.

Should the person concerned satisfy the conditions for Jobseeker’s Benefit and make an application before 6/1/20 she may qualify for a payment at the full personal rate of €203 per week based on the Governing Contribution Year (GCY) 2017.

Should this person satisfy the conditions for Jobseeker’s Benefit as outlined above and makes an application on or after the 6/1/20 she may qualify for payment at a reduced rate of €91.10 per week based on the GCY 2018.

It is open to the person concerned to submit an application for a Jobseeker’s payment if she feels she fulfils the qualification criteria for this payment. It is also open to her to call to her local Intreo Centre if she has any queries regarding her social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Ceisteanna (582)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

582. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of applications for carer's allowance and carer’s benefit received to date in 2019; the number approved, pending or refused, respectively; the length of time taken to make decisions on the applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50014/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following table.

Total number of carer's allowance and carer's benefit claims registered, awarded, rejected, withdrawn, cleared and pending together with the average time to award claims in weeks at the end of October 2019.

Registered

Awarded

Rejected

Withdrawn

Cleared

Pending at 31/10/2019

Average time to award

(weeks)

Carer's Allowance

16,655

14,107

7,432

482

22,021

4,357

14

Carer's Benefit

4,061

2,875

1,088

169

4,132

646

12

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (583)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

583. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for a disability allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be expedited in view of their health issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50092/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance from this lady on 21 October 2019. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

The processing time for individual disability allowance 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.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (584)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

584. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an illness benefit payment in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50093/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim from the person concerned has been awarded at the maximum rate of €198 per week.

A payment of €231.00 has now issued to her nominated Post Office that pays her for the full period of her claim from the 9th October 2018 to the 16th October 2018, no payment is due for the first six days of her claim.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Interdepartmental Committees Reports

Ceisteanna (585)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

585. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the interdepartmental group review into the community employment, rural social scheme and Tús has been completed; if a copy of the report will be made available to this Deputy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50162/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In early 2019, the Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore how social inclusion schemes might be organised going forward.

A series of meetings of the IDG have taken place and a number of bilateral meetings were also undertaken with the relevant Departments. In addition to this, written submissions were received from key stakeholders and community groups. All submissions received were considered as part of the deliberation process. The final report of the IDG is expected to be available shortly.

The priority for my Department is to ensure that all employment and activation programmes have the best outcomes for participants. The Government is very mindful of the large number of work programme places involved in service delivery and other valuable services to individuals and communities across Ireland.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Ceisteanna (586)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

586. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on a matter (details supplied) regarding community employment pensions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50182/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

CE Supervisors are not employed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. CE Supervisors have always been employees of Community Employment Sponsoring Bodies which operate in the community and voluntary sector. However, earlier this year, I undertook to engage with unions representing CE supervisors to address issues of concern to their members and this process is ongoing at present.

FÁS was not a party to the hearing in the Labour Court in 2008 but did provide a statement making clear that it was not the employer of the supervisors. As CE Supervisors are not public servants on the public payroll neither the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation (which then had responsibility for CE) nor the Department of Finance (pre Public Expenditure and Reform) were parties to the case when it was heard by the Labour Court.

The state is not responsible for funding pension arrangements for employees of private companies, even where the companies in question are reliant on State funding. Pension arrangements are a matter to be agreed between employees and their employers.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Ceisteanna (587)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

587. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the progress made following the meeting held with representatives of community employment supervisors on the provision of a pension in view of the Labour Court Recommendation over 11 years ago for an agreed pension to be put in place. [50193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Community Employment Scheme (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.

The programme is delivered through independent Community Employment Sponsoring Bodies. The contract agreement between the Department and the Community Employment Sponsoring Body establishes their role as an independent contractor, responsible for all purposes and all persons recruited by them

CE Supervisors are not employed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. CE Supervisors have always been employees of Community Employment Sponsoring Bodies which operate in the community and voluntary sector.

I am very aware of the valuable and dedicated service that Community Employment (CE) sponsor organisations provide in running CE Schemes across the country. CE supervisors, as employees of these organisations, are an integral part of that good work.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Department is currently engaging with representatives of CE supervisors to discuss issues arising following that 2008 Labour Court Recommendation and that all parties agreed that the detail of all discussions undertaken by the group should remain confidential until the process had completed. I would ask Deputies to respect these wishes and allow the talks to continue free from speculation.

One-Parent Family Payment Eligibility

Ceisteanna (588)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

588. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which income from renting a room is treated in a means test for the one-parent family payment (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50197/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides that, for social assistance schemes such as one-parent family payment, all income and capital belonging to the claimant are assessable for means-testing purposes.

Accordingly, where an individual is renting part of their family home, the cash value of the rental income is assessed. However, such rental income is reduced by a range of deductions. These include:

- a proportion of any mortgage interest paid by the claimant on the part of the property rented;

- a 15% deduction for voids (i.e. periods when the accommodation is vacant between lettings); and,

- if the rooms let are furnished, a 5% deduction for wear and tear.

It should be noted that the deductions for voids and wear and tear are automatically applied to any rental income.

Any change to my Department’s means assessment policies would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (589)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

589. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50198/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has a disability such that they require that level of care.

It is a condition for receipt of a CA that the person being cared for must have such a disability that as a result they require full-time care and attention. This is defined as requiring from another person, continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions or continual supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself and likely to require that level of care for at least twelve months.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 24 April 2019.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that the evidence did not show the requirement for full time care and attention.

The person concerned was notified on 24 July 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of this decision and submitted additional evidence in support of his application. The outcome of this review is that the decision remained unchanged. On 28 November 2019 the person concerned was notified of this outcome and of his right of appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (590)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

590. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will review the case of a person (details supplied) regarding a domiciliary care allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50235/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment, payable to the parent/guardian of a child who requires care and attention as result of a severe disability and will require same for at least 12 months , and is payable up to the age of 16 years.

As the child concerned will be 16 years of age in December 2019, DCA ceases and the final payment will be December 2019. A letter issued on the 29th August 2019 to advise of the position and advising that it is open to the child to apply for disability allowance (DA) in his own right on reaching age 16. Any claim to DA will be decided based on the scheme criteria and the means test involved will be based on the income of the applicant.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Ceisteanna (591)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

591. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when backdated partial capacity and invalidity pension payments will be issued to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50263/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is in receipt of Partial Capacity Benefit at a rate of €104.20 per week.

Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) allows a person who has been in receipt of Illness Benefit for six months or Invalidity Pension 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 personal rate of Partial Capacity Benefit payment is based on the assessment of a person's restriction on capacity for work i.e. moderate, severe or profound, where either 50%, 75%, or 100% of a person's payment is maintained.

The person concerned was assessed as having a moderate incapacity for work and as such he receives 50% of his Invalidity Pension payment per week.

The person concerned ceased work from the 30th June 2019 to the 3rd November 2019. The Person Concerned's rate of payment has been uplifted to the full rate of Invalidity Pension for this period and all arrears due to him have been issued.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (592)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

592. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 478 of 26 November 2019, if the files will be further reviewed (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50269/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance (DA) with effect from 15 May 2019 when their application was received by my Department. The first payment was made by her chosen payment method on 17 October 2019.

The person concerned signed and dated her DA application on 30 October 2018. However unless backdating is requested, applications for DA are considered from the date of receipt in this office which in this lady's case was 14 May 2019.

If the person concerned wishes to request backdating of her DA she may do so in writing, clearly stating the reasons for the delay in submitting her application.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Farm Assist Scheme Appeals

Ceisteanna (593)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

593. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on a farm assist appeal by persons (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50276/19]

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 7 November 2019. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 18 November 2019 and the case 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 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.

Nursing Home Subventions

Ceisteanna (594)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

594. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a matter on the accumulation of funds in the bank account of a person (details supplied) will be investigated. [50281/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Deputy is referring, in part, to the Nursing Home Support Scheme administered by the Department of Health. Queries in that regard should be directed to the Department of Health.

My Department is currently finalising the state pension (non-contributory) claim of the deceased.

Social welfare legislation provides that the personal representative of a deceased person, who at any time received a social assistance scheme payment, is obliged to give notice to my Department of their intention to distribute the deceased's estate and to provide a schedule of the assets of the estate. The personal representative is requested not to distribute the assets of the estate until they receive formal clearance from my Department. If, on examination of the schedule of assets, it is found that not all of the deceased’s means had been disclosed, or if the values of previously assessed means had changed, my Department will seek to recover any monies overpaid from the estate.

A schedule of the assets of their estate of the deceased was submitted to my Department in October 2019. I am advised that an official from my Department has written to the legal representatives of the estate requesting additional information. When this information is received, the Inspector dealing with this case will submit their report to a Deciding Officer for consideration. The outcome of the Deciding Officer's review will be notified to the personal representative of the deceased in due course.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (595)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

595. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if qualifying applicants for the fuel allowance will be assured that they will continue to receive the payment in 2020 and into the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €630 each year) from October to April, to over 368,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household.

The fuel allowance is an important measure that assists pensioners and other welfare dependent householders to address income deficiency, especially during the winter when a household faces increased heating needs. Heating costs represent a relatively higher proportion of the resources available to low income households and, therefore, the objectives of the scheme remain valid and there are no plans to abolish the fuel allowance payment.

Furthermore in Budget 2020 I increased the weekly payment rate of fuel allowance to €24.50, a €2 a week increase which will more than compensate the three lowest income deciles in respect of the increased carbon tax - the very people that the fuel allowance is targeted towards. This ensures that the most vulnerable in society are protected in this regard.

To qualify for fuel allowance an applicant must satisfy a number of qualifying conditions. If an applicant satisfies all these conditions they will receive the allowance. However, continued payment of the allowance is dependent on the qualifying applicant continuing to satisfy all the qualifying conditions. The payment of fuel allowance will only ever be stopped in cases where a person receiving fuel allowance no longer satisfies the qualifying conditions.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.