Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Ceisteanna (474)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

474. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection when the Social Welfare Appeals Office will recommence in-person oral hearings with appropriate Covid-19 safety measures in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43535/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

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. When an appeal is assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration the Appeals Officer makes a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if necessary, holds an oral hearing. The granting of an oral hearing is at the discretion of the Appeals Officer.

Due to the public health restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, in-person hearings were suspended in March 2020 and have remained suspended since then with the exception of a small number of weeks in August and September 2020. Oral hearings have been successfully conducted online or by telephone since October 2020 and these types of hearings will continue. In light of restrictions being lifted and, subject to prevailing public health advice, an in-person oral hearing may be convened where the Chief Appeals Officer is of the view that an in-person hearing is essential in any particular case. As outlined above, oral hearings will continue to be held online and by phone.