The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 31 August 2020. 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 Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 11 September 2020 and the case was referred to an Appeals Officer on that date. The Appeals Officer has determined an oral hearing is required in this appeal.
I am advised by the Chief Appeals Officer that, due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, in person oral appeal hearings have been suspended. They are currently being conducted online or by telephone.
I am also advised that the Appeals Officer in this case has requested that a telephone oral hearing be scheduled with the person concerned. However, it has not been possible to contact the person concerned by telephone to make the necessary arrangements. A letter issued to them on 15 January 2021 requesting them to contact the Social Welfare Appeals Office in order for the hearing to be arranged.
The average waiting time for Carer’s Allowance appeals in 2020 was 23.3 weeks for an oral hearing and 11.6 weeks for a summary decision.
Anyone experiencing financial difficulties while awaiting a decision on an appeal should contact their local Intreo Centre and enquire as to their entitlement to a payment under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for 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.