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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 211-226
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Redundancy Payments
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times
 Header Item Child Benefit Applications
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Applications
 Header Item Illness Benefit Applications
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Applications
 Header Item Redundancy Payments
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Data
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 775 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 211-226

Carer's Allowance Applications

 211. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their review application for carer’s allowance; if this case was assessed by a medical assessor; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40250/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the person in question. In June of this year the person concerned submitted additional medical evidence in support of the application. This medical evidence is awaiting further assessment by a medical assessor. Once the medical assessment has been completed the application a deciding officer will make a full decision. The application will be processed as quickly as possible and when a decision is made the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Pension Provisions

 212. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The number of women applicants who applied unsuccessfullys for the State contributory pension and were refused a pension based on changes to rules that were introduced this September.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40273/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The change in relation to State pension (contributory), introduced in legislation from 1st September 2012, sets out a wider graduation of yearly average bands and corresponding pension rates. The aim of this change is to ensure that the rate of pension payment is more closely related to the level of social insurance contributions a person has paid (including credited contributions, where applicable) over their working lives.

  This change only applies to State pension (contributory) claimants whose 66th birthday falls on/after 1st September 2012, and who satisfy the qualifying conditions and are awarded this pension. There have been no disallowances of claims for State pension (contributory) arising from the 1st September 2012 change as outlined, either for male or female applicants.

Redundancy Payments

 213. Deputy Tom Hayes Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a redundancy payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary who submitted their claim approximately two months ago; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40276/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An application for a redundancy lump sum payment in respect of the person concerned has recently been authorised and payment will issue shortly directly to the person’s bank account.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 214. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a review of a domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40330/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received from the person concerned on the 8th June 2012. This application was referred to one of the Department’s Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for DCA. A letter issued on the 25th July 2012 refusing the allowance. The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision.

As part of the appeal process, the case has been forwarded to another of the Department's Medical Assessors for further consideration, including a review of any new information supplied. Upon receipt of the Medical Assessor’s opinion, the case will be further examined and will be forwarded for consideration by the Appeals Office, if necessary.

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

 215. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for jobseeker's benefit; the number of applicants currently waiting for their jobseeker's benefit application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40331/12]

 216. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for jobseeker's allowance; the number of applicants currently waiting for their jobseeker's allowance application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40332/12]

 220. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for one parent family payment; the number of applicants currently waiting for their one parent family payment application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40336/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 215, 216 and 220 together.

Processing times vary across schemes because of both the volume of applications and the differing qualification criteria. For example, means assessments are required for all of the social assistance schemes and customers must also satisfy the habitual residence condition. In the case of the insurance based schemes, it may be necessary to ascertain details of foreign insurance records. It should also be noted that many factors outside the Department's control can impact upon claim processing times, for example, the supply of relevant information by the customer, employers or other third parties.

The average processing time for claims decided in August 2012 was 2.3 weeks for jobseekers benefit, 4.5 weeks for jobseekers allowance and 12.2 weeks for one parent family payment. This is the average time nationally and there are fluctuations between offices.

The number of claims pending decision at week ending 16 September was 6,523 jobseekers benefit, 22,753 jobseekers allowance and 3,625 one-parent family payment.

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

 217. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for mortgage interest supplement; the number of applicants currently waiting for their mortgage interest supplement application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40333/12]

 223. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for rent supplement; the number of applicants currently waiting for their rent supplement application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40339/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 223 together.

There are currently approximately 90,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement and 17,000 in receipt of mortgage interest supplement, for which the Government has provided a total of €487 million in 2012.

A key objective of the transfer of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Service Executive to my Department on 1st October 2011 was to provide a streamlined, consistent and enhanced service to the customer. The process of integration is on-going and significant progress has already been made with a unified service, the National Employment and Entitlements Service, now in the process of being delivered in four offices. The service provided in relation to processing mortgage interest and rent supplement applications is also subject to ongoing review.

The timescale for determining applications for rent and mortgage interest supplements is dependent, among other things, on the availability of the required information, such as details of the applicant's income, bank statements etc. In addition, some aspects of the application are inevitably time consuming and delays can occur where investigations such as home visits or third party evidence are required. Delays can also arise if the applicant is slow to respond to requests for additional information.

Statistics are not available on the length of time taken to assess rent and mortgage interest supplement applications or the number of applications awaiting a decision. The provision of a prompt service is a major objective for the Department’s staff dealing with rent and mortgage interest supplement applications. This is tempered by the necessity to ensure that every case is fully investigated and that all cases are dealt with in a consistent and fair manner.

I am satisfied that the Department’s staff dealing with these applications make every effort to ensure rent and mortgage interest supplement claims are processed in an efficient manner.

Child Benefit Applications

 218. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for child benefit; the number of applicants currently waiting for their child benefit application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40334/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Applications for Child Benefit may be dealt with either under domestic legislation or EU legislation. Claims made under domestic legislation are processed on average within three weeks of receipt. Currently, a total of 1,533 claims are pending under domestic legislation, of which 458 are awaiting further information from customers.

Claims made under EU legislation are processed within six months on average. This is due to the need for correspondence with other EU countries, which takes time. A total of 2,004 EU claims are pending, of which 1,676 are awaiting further information from the customer or other institutions.

Family Income Supplement Applications

 219. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for family income supplement; the number of applicants currently waiting for their family income supplement application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40335/12]

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.

  The average waiting time for new family income supplement (FIS) claims at the end of August was 18 weeks and for renewal applications was 16 weeks. At the end of August, there were 7,113 new FIS applications and 7,710 renewal applications awaiting decision. The volume of FIS claims on hands and the delays in processing are a consequence of continued strong claim intake.

  The Department has introduced a number of measures to address the efficiency of claim processing for FIS in light of the current waiting times, including the assignment of temporary staff and the facility to assign overtime working where appropriate. Furthermore an in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project has commenced for the FIS scheme, the focus of which will be to optimise performance and provide improved customer service.

  These measures will, over time, lead to more efficient processing and reduce the number of claims on hand. The position is being closely monitored and kept under review by the Department.

  Question No. 220 answered with Question No. 215.

Illness Benefit Applications

 221. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for illness benefit; the number of applicants currently waiting for their illness benefit application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40337/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The current waiting time for an application for illness benefit is less than one week.

  As of 14th September 2012 a total of 1,921 applicants were awaiting a decision on their illness benefit application.

Invalidity Pension Applications

 222. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for invalidity pension; the number of applicants currently waiting for their invalidity pension application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40338/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton At the end of August 2012 there were 5802 Invalidity Pension (IP) claims registered and awaiting decision. Average time to award is currently 33 weeks, this includes the time taken to decide EU and bilateral cases which have a significantly longer processing time.

Since the introduction of the two year expiration of illness benefit there has been a significant increase in the number of IP claims received in the Department. A high percentage of these applicants are not suitable for the invalidity pension scheme as they are not assessed as being permanently incapable of work.

Since June of this year, following an in-depth business process improvement project in the invalidity pension area, a targeted plan has been put in place to clear the backlog. The number of claims awaiting decision is steadily decreasing e.g. from 7,007 at end May, 6,285 at end July to 5,802 at end August 2012. However it will be a number of months before the backlog of claims is fully cleared.

The processing time for individual IP claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the qualifying criteria. In addition, factors outside the Department’s control can have an impact, for example, insufficient information received from claimants at time of application and delays in claimants furnishing the information requested.

Customers waiting on a decision on their IP claim, who have urgent income support needs, can apply for the means tested supplementary welfare allowance (SWA).

  Question No. 223 answered with Question No. 217.

Redundancy Payments

 224. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the current waiting time for an application for redundancy payment;; the number of applicants currently waiting for their redundancy payment application to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40340/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton There are approximately 8,500 redundancy payment applications on hand awaiting processing at present. These include both rebate and lump sums claims.

Where lump sum claims have been correctly submitted on-line, the processing target of 6 to 8 weeks is currently being achieved. There are some cases, for example, where a query arose and the Department is awaiting additional information from the applicant or where there was an error on the application form, which fall outside of this processing target.

The Department is currently processing correctly submitted on-line applications for rebate payments received in May 2012. It is acknowledged, however, that there are several hundred cases which have been on hand for a longer period. These are very large scale cases which are put through additional checks and, therefore, take longer to process. However, every effort is being made to ensure that these claims are paid as soon as possible.

National Internship Scheme Data

 225. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of persons now taking part in the jobBridge programme; the number of participants on the programme who have gone on to obtain full-time employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40341/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The National Internship Scheme provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals in organisations in the private, public and community voluntary sectors and at present is confined to individuals who are in receipt of a Live claim (Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit/One Parent Family Payment/Disability Allowance) or are signing on for credits for at least 3 of the last 6 months (78 Days).

  The JobBridge Scheme has made significant progress to-date since it came into operation on the 1st July 2011. 10,291 internships have commenced to date with 4,803 participants currently on an internship as at 20th September 2012 and over 2,265 opportunities presently advertised on www.JobBridge.ie. Our records indicate that 37% of the 5,488 individuals who have completed their JobBridge internship placement have immediately progressed into employment with either their host organisation or another employer immediately after their internship finished. These progression rates compare favourably with European averages in this area.

  However, it is important to note that this does not take into account interns who may have secured employment in the subsequent weeks or months after completing their internship. Further information on outcomes will be ascertained as a result of the independent evaluation of the Scheme which is currently being undertaken by Indecon.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 226. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide an update on a review for an invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40351/12]

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 23 November 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 17th July 2012 and the case has been 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.


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