Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 534 - 543
 Header Item Medical Aids and Appliances Provision
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Payments
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Fuel Allowance Payments

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 534 - 543

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

 534. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if a grant will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [13704/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton To qualify for Medical Appliance Benefit, a person aged 66 or over, must have paid a total of 260 contributions at Class A,E,H or P since first starting work, and either:

  - 39 paid or credited PRSI contributions in either of the relevant tax years on which the claim is based; or

  - 26 paid PRSI contributions in both the relevant tax year and the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year.

  According to Department records, the person concerned has never paid qualifying PRSI contributions and therefore does not meet the qualifying conditions for this scheme. Neither does the person concerned qualify under her spouse’s PRSI record.

  Hearing aids are available, subject to certain conditions under the medical card scheme, enquiries in this regard should be made to the person's nearest HSE office.

Carer's Allowance Payments

 535. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13715/14]

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 30th September 2013. The employer of the person concerned confirmed that she is contracted to work a minimum of 15 hours per week and there was evidence that hours in excess of that number had been worked in respect of many weeks. Legislation states that, where it is shown to the satisfaction of a deciding officer that adequate provision has been made for the care of the care recipient, the carer may engage in employment outside the home for duration not exceeding 15 hours per week. The deciding officer disallowed the application and the person concerned was notified of this decision on the 7th of March. The person in question has requested a review and submitted additional information. This review is currently ongoing and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

 Question No. 536 answered with Question No. 523.

 Question No. 537 withdrawn.

Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility

 538. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding social welfare payments to young persons. [13808/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An unemployed person may qualify for jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance. Jobseeker’s benefit is based on a person’s social insurance record and jobseeker’s allowance is based on weekly means. A fundamental qualifying condition for a jobseeker’s payment is that a person must be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work.

To be eligible for jobseekers allowance, which may be payable in circumstances where a person resides with a parent or step-parent, an applicant must be over eighteen and under sixty-six years of age.

In the case of persons aged under 25 years of age, the means test for jobseeker’s allowance takes account of the value of any benefit and privilege enjoyed by a claimant as a result of residing with a parent or step-parent. The calculation of such value is based on the level of net parental income.

There are currently no plans to alter these arrangements within the jobseeker’s allowance scheme.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 539. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will expedite a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13811/14]

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 21 January 2014. 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 25 February 2014 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

  Question No. 540 answered with Question No. 523.

  Question No. 541 withdrawn.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 542. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if a decision has been made on the review of a disability allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13902/14]

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 11 March 2014. 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 these have been received from the Department, the case 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 appeal 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Fuel Allowance Payments

 543. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton his plans to put back in place a larger heating allowance for persons who are vulnerable, cold and in need of the assistance (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13920/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Some 410,000 customers will receive the fuel allowance of €20 per week for 26 weeks from October to April, at an estimated cost of €208 million in 2014. The allowance is intended as a contribution to a person’s heating costs. It is not intended to meet those costs in full.

The Department also pays an electricity or gas allowance as part of the household benefits package to 410,000 customers at an estimated cost of €230 million in 2014. It is possible to receive both the fuel allowance and the household benefits package giving customers €940 per annum towards their energy costs.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, Departmental staff have some discretion in issuing exceptional needs payments to help meet an essential, once-off cost which customers are unable to meet within their own resources; this may include exceptional heating costs. This discretion must be exercised in a reasonable way, having regard to all the circumstances of the case. In 2013, €1.2 million was issued for exceptional needs payments related to electricity and gas bills.

In addition, over 2,200 customers received a special heating supplement, paid to assist people with special heating needs because of ill health or infirmity.

The best way to tackle fuel poverty in the long term, as noted in the Government’s Energy Affordability Strategy, is to improve the energy efficiency of the dwelling. The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland delivers a range of energy efficiency measures to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. Measures available include draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets for hot water tanks, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation and are free of charge to the customer.


Last Updated: 24/10/2016 15:31:07 First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page