The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that as a result of the current Covid-19 restrictions and in order to safeguard the health and safety of both appellants and staff the Social Welfare Appeals Office has not held any oral appeal hearings since 13 March 2020. No such hearings can be scheduled until further notice. The matter is being kept under review.
Appeals are currently being determined on a summary basis. It may be possible for Appeals Officers to gather additional information or seek clarifications on any matter relating to an appeal (for example by telephone or email) which might otherwise have been ascertained in the course of an oral hearing. The Appeals Office is also exploring the use of video technology for appeal hearings. Among the issues being considered are what is the most appropriate technological solution and the types of appeal cases that would be potentially suitable for this approach.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.