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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 244-260
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Code Review
 Header Item Social Welfare Payments Waiting Times
 Header Item One-Parent Family Payment Appeals
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Code Issues
 Header Item Illness Benefit Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Child Benefit Payments
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Applications
 Header Item Public Services Provision
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility
 Header Item Respite Care Grant Data

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 244-260

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 244. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding an appeal for invalidity pension in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55299/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions.

This department received a claim for invalidity pension for the person concerned on 24 May 2011. The medical evidence provided by the claimant in support of her claim was examined by a medical assessor who was of the opinion that the person concerned is not eligible for invalidity pension as she does not satisfy the medical criteria. The application for invalidity pension was disallowed by a deciding officer. The person in question was notified of this decision and the reason for it on 11 January 2012.

The person concerned appealed the decision. Following further review her invalidity claim has been awarded from 26 May 2011. Arrangements have been made to have her first payment sent to her nominated bank account on 10 January 2013 and any arrears due will issue shortly after.

Social Welfare Code Review

 245. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her plans to change the three day rule in relation to jobseeker's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55312/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The jobseeker's benefit and jobseeker’s allowance schemes provide income support for people who have lost work and are unable to find alternative employment. It is a fundamental qualifying condition for these schemes that a person must be available for full-time work.

  A person is entitled to jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance where they are fully unemployed for at least 3 days in any period of 6 consecutive days (Sundays are currently excluded from this calculation).

  It is recognised that a changing labour market has resulted in a move away from the more traditional work patterns, with a consequent increase in the number of casual workers. In tandem many large employers currently have significant numbers of part time workers who are also being paid by the Department. In acknowledgement of this trend, the Department has commenced work on the consideration of the future structure of the jobseeker schemes. In this regard my Department’s work is being informed by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education report, A Review of the Status of Casual Workers in Ireland.  This report recommended increasing the flexibility of the existing jobseeker schemes by moving from the current days based system to a system of entitlement based on hours. However, increasing flexibility in the system could potentially, depending on the behavioural response, increase the number of people claiming a jobseeker’s payment thereby increasing the total cost of the scheme to the Exchequer.

  This work is complex and is taking place in the context of other social welfare reforms including the recognition of Sunday working for jobseekers, the current economic situation, and the considerable administrative change that implementation of reform to the jobseeker’s schemes will require.

Social Welfare Payments Waiting Times

 246. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the average waiting time for processing of applications for family income supplement at Longford social welfare; the number of persons waiting more than six months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55321/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.

FIS claims, both new and renewal, received on or after the 5th November 2012 are currently being processed on receipt. There are currently 293 new applications and 94 renewal applications waiting for more than 6 months. In addition to delays caused by the current backlog of claims awaiting processing, factors that can delay FIS applications are the provision of information and documentation by applicants and their employers as well as cases which require information from other EU countries or where referral to the social welfare inspectorate is required.

An in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project has recently been completed for the FIS scheme. This project focused on optimising output, improving customer service and the elimination of backlogs. Part of the project was a detailed examination of workloads and a full assessment of existing capacity within the area and what capacity is needed in order to process the volumes of claims, both new and renewal, being received on a weekly basis.

The outcome of this review is a detailed plan outlining the process required to manage both the continuous weekly intake and backlog claims clearance. This plan sees the current weekly new claim and renewal intake processed by one team, while the backlog is ring-fenced and a focused team assigned to this work with a clear plan for its elimination.

This team including additional temporary resources has been identified and is already assigned and working on the backlog claims. In order to reduce the time it will take to eliminate the backlog, some claims are being processed outside of Longford Social Welfare Services Office. This team is fully focussed on the elimination of the backlog of claims in the shortest possible timeframe, concentrating in the first instance on those claims which were previously in payment but where payment has expired and continuing on to first-time new claims. Within those categories, those waiting the longest will be processed first.

It is expected that the backlog will be fully eliminated by the end of March 2013. Claims which are approved by the backlog team will be backdated to the date of claim or the date of expiry of the previous claim, as appropriate, and all arrears due will be paid.

One-Parent Family Payment Appeals

 247. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if and when an appeal for one parent family allowance will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55326/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 28th November 2012, 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 Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 248. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if and when an appeal in respect of an application for invalidity pension will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55331/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 17th September 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question 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 Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

  Question No. 249 withdrawn.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 250. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if and when an application for carer's allowance will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55343/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 11th of October 2012. On completion of all the necessary investigations in relation to this application, a decision will issue directly to the person in question.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 251. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason for the delay in issuing a decision on a domiciliary care allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55344/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 4th December 2012, 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 Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Code Issues

 252. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton where a young person aged 23/24 loses a job, then are entitled to jobseekers benefit for a certain number of months; if she will confirm the criteria on which they are assessed in relation to the income of their parents; if the parents have to declare all their income; is the family home mortgage assessed in the means test; what are the limits for the parental income; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55355/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Jobseeker’s benefit is paid at the full standard rate to qualified claimants regardless of age and without a means test, subject to the normal rules of the Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme. If a claimant is still unemployed when they exhaust their entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit, they may claim Jobseeker’s Allowance which is subject to a means test. People transferring to Jobseeker’s Allowance immediately after finishing their entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit may receive the maximum weekly payment rate of €188 rather than the reduced rate of €144 or €100 which is paid to jobseeker’s allowance recipients aged between 18 and 21 or 22 to 24 respectively.

Current legislation provides that where a person aged 25 years or under claims Jobseeker’s Allowance and is living with a parent or step-parent in the family home, an assessment is made of the yearly value of any benefit and privilege enjoyed by that person by virtue of residing there. The value of the benefit and privilege assessed is based on the level of the parents' assessable income.

There are two exceptions to this rule. No assessment is made where a son or daughter and his or her spouse / civil partner / partner is living with his / her parents or where a person returns to the parental home having had an independent life elsewhere in Ireland or abroad for an appreciable length of time e.g. at least three years. Parental income includes income from employment, self-employment, pensions, rental income, maintenance payments and some social welfare payments and health service executive payments.

All income must be declared. However, deductions are allowed for income tax, universal social charge, PRSI, superannuation/ PRSA contributions, private health insurance contribution, pension levy and union dues. Deductions are also allowed for rent or mortgage payments and a parental allowance of €600 per week per couple plus €30 per week in respect of other dependent children applies. Any balance is assessed at 34% and this constitutes the weekly value of benefit and privilege.

Once the person concerned reaches 25 years of age, the value of any benefit and privilege will no longer be regarded as means.

Illness Benefit Appeals

 253. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will be made on an illness benefit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55361/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Payment of illness benefit, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

  An appeal was registered on 13th September 2012 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer’s comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be notified when arrangements for the examination have been completed.

  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 on social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 254. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue in relation to an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55362/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 22nd of June 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Child Benefit Payments

 255. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will outline in tabular form the number of recipients of child benefit who are in receipt of payments for third and subsequent child broken down by country and number of children. [55373/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Child Benefit is paid to around 608,000 families in respect of some 1.16 million children. It is a universal payment that assists parents with the cost of raising children and contributes towards alleviating child poverty. It is expected that some €2 billion will be spent on Child Benefit in 2012.

  Child benefit is paid to almost 141,000 families in which there are three or more children. Just under 475,000 children live in families where there are three or more children. This represents 23% of families and 40% of children. Almost three quarters of these families have three children and more than nine out of ten of the families concerned have either three or four children.

  Child benefit is paid to a total of 189 families with three or more children in respect of 620 children who are living outside Ireland. This represents less than one seventh of one per cent of the families and children concerned.

  The tabular statement gives a further breakdown of these data.

County
Number of Families with 3+ Children
Number of Children in Families with 3+ Children
Antrim
7
23
Armagh
38
134
Carlow
1,973
6,583
Cavan
2,774
9,534
Clare
3,985
13,403
Cork
15,910
53,172
Derry
51
172
Donegal
5,424
18,686
Down
98
340
Dublin
32,311
108,228
Fermanagh
67
222
Galway
7,950
27,215
Kerry
4,256
14,309
Kildare
7,509
25,118
Kilkenny
2,971
9,984
Laois
2,731
9,298
Leitrim
1,119
3,857
Limerick
5,568
18,772
Longford
1,457
5,097
Louth
4,161
13,952
Mayo
4,278
14,715
Meath
6,740
22,411
Monaghan
2,111
7,232
Offaly
2,580
8,780
Roscommon
2,004
6,851
Sligo
2,011
6,869
Tipperary
5,041
17,109
Tyrone
31
106
Waterford
3,559
11,866
Westmeath
2,923
9,979
Wexford
4,707
15,826
Wicklow
4,376
14,515
Outside Ireland
189
620
Total
140,910
474,978

Family Income Supplement Applications

 256. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a review of family income supplement will be completed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; if she will expedite the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55387/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Family Income Supplement (FIS) is designed to provide support for people with families who are on low earnings.

  The person concerned applied to have their FIS renewed from 29 November 2012. As part of the process to establish household means for FIS purposes in this case, it was referred to the social welfare inspectorate to confirm details of income. The person concerned was interviewed by a social welfare inspector on 5th December 2012, following which he was requested to provide further documentation in relation to his household income. When this documentation is provided his FIS entitlement will be further considered and he will be notified directly of the outcome.

Public Services Provision

 257. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton further to Parliamentary Question No. 237 of 4 December 2012, if she will provide a list of all new services across her Department that have been tested for external service delivery since March 2011. [55437/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton For many years the Department has contracted extensively with the private sector for the delivery of a variety of services where this provides better value for State money than the internal provision of services. These contracts range from the provision of scheme payments and employment services to information technology and medical certification. They also include cleaning, waste management, washroom services, transport services, pest control and security services.

The Department is currently examining the feasibility of contracting private providers of employment services on a payment by results basis in order to meet the increasing demand for such services. The Department is also considering the contracting of external providers of medical services in order to enhance its capacity to undertake assessments and reviews of entitlements to illness and disability related schemes.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

 258. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the entitlement to contributory pension in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55497/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Section 110 (1) (b) of The Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides that a self-employed contributor shall not be regarded as satisfying the qualifying conditions for State pension (contributory) unless all self-employed PRSI contributions payable by him or her have been paid.

The person concerned applied for State pension (contributory) on 22 March 2012. His application was disallowed because according to the records of the Department, he has outstanding PRSI liabilities for the 2006 tax year which have not yet been discharged. On receipt of confirmation that the person concerned has finalised his self-employment tax liability with Revenue, his pension entitlement will be re-examined and he will be notified of the outcome without delay.

  Question No. 259 withdrawn.

Respite Care Grant Data

 260. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide in tabular breakdown by county the total number of persons in receipt of respite care grant, regardless of other payments in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  [55553/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The respite care grant (RCG) is an annual payment made automatically to people in receipt of carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit, or domiciliary care allowance from my Department. Other people who are not in receipt of one of these payments, but who are providing full time care and attention can also apply for the grant via separate application.

  The RCG is paid automatically on the 1st Thursday in June of the years in question and is paid by a number of sections in my Department, via various computer platforms. As a result, not all of the information requested by the Deputy is available. Details of the number of RCG, broken down by scheme and are shown in the table. However, the information requested in relation to customers resident in individual counties is not available on a county basis.

  Table 1 - Respite Care Grant Number of Carers (2010 to date)   

Year
Carer’s Allowance
Carer’s Benefit
Domiciliary Care Allowance
Standalone RCG
2010
38,260
1,697
23,110
5,184
2011
39,601
1,223
23,710
4,629
2012
37,853 (to June 2012)
1,210 (to date)
24,245 (to June 2012)
4,149 (to date)


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