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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 151-162
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Administration
 Header Item Mortgage Interest Relief Eligibility
 Header Item Exceptional Needs Payments
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Exceptional Needs Payment Applications
 Header Item Mortgage Interest Relief Application
 Header Item Scéim Shóisialta na Tuaithe

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 151-162

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 151. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue on an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47144/14]

Tánaiste and 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 November 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 papers 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.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

 152. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason outgoings such as the property tax, bin charges and water charges are not taken into account when assessing a person’s means when applying for a social welfare payment. [47152/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department operates a range of means tested social assistance payments. The means test takes account of the income and assets of the person (and spouse/partner, if applicable) applying for the relevant scheme. Income and assets include income from employment, self-employment, occupational pensions, maintenance payments as well as property owned (other than the family home and capital such as savings, shares and other investments.

The weekly entitlement of the person is the maximum weekly rate of payment for the relevant family less the means calculated. In calculating the means of a person, no account is taken of any outgoings such as rent, mortgage payments, the local property tax, refuse charges or water costs.

To do so would, for example, be of no benefit to a person who had no income or assets as the entitlement would be the maximum weekly rate of payment applicable to the family concerned. If the relevant outgoings were taken into account, the persons who would benefit would be those who had income or assets of varying levels and, accordingly, such persons would be treated more favourably than persons who had fewer or no personal resources.

  Questions Nos. 153 and 154 withdrawn.

National Internship Scheme Administration

 155. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her views on the recent downgrading of the STEP Enterprises service run by St. John of God's; the relationship between the JobBridge scheme and this service; if allowances are made to allow persons participate in the JobBridge scheme while on a disability based payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [47204/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys The JobBridge scheme provides internship opportunities for persons in receipt of one of the qualifying social welfare payments. The qualifying payments are Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit, One Parent Family Payment and Disability Allowance. Accordingly people on Disability Allowance who wish to participate in JobBridge can apply for an internship.

  As is the case in respect of other eligible participants people on Disability Allowance who participate on JobBridge interns receive a ‘top-up’ of €50 per week in addition to their Social Welfare payment.

  There is no relationship between the STEP Enterprises service and the JobBridge scheme.

  Question No. 156 withdrawn.

Mortgage Interest Relief Eligibility

 157. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason mortgage interest supplement ceased in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if it will be restored in view of the difficult financial circumstances in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47235/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The original purpose of the mortgage interest supplement (MIS) scheme was to provide short-term support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only.

  MIS is normally calculated to ensure that a person, after the payment of his or her mortgage interest, has an income equal to the rate of supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) appropriate to their family circumstances less a minimum contribution which recipients are required to pay from their own resources.

The minimum contribution for couples towards MIS increased from €35 to €40 per week (since 1 January 2014). This change applies to new and existing recipients.

  Many recipients pay more than this amount because recipients are also required, subject to income disregards, to contribute any additional assessable means that they have over and above the appropriate basic SWA rate towards their accommodation costs.

  The rate of interest payable by the person referred to by the Deputy is less than the weekly minimum contribution for a couple of €40 per week, therefore the person referred to is no longer eligible for a mortgage interest supplement.

Exceptional Needs Payments

 158. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the procedure to be followed to obtain an exceptional needs payment in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47238/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton A claim for assistance with funeral expenses under the social welfare allowance scheme is treated as a claim for an exceptional needs payment. The Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, Section 201 provides the legal basis for exceptional needs payments. Entitlement to an exceptional needs payment for funeral expenses is discretionary. The primary consideration in determining that a payment is warranted is that there is an inability to pay the costs, in part or in full, by the family of the deceased person without causing hardship.

A designated person of my Department will examine and establish the circumstances of the person applying for assistance, the circumstances of that person’s household, the circumstances of the deceased and the ability of other members of the family to meet, or contribute to, the cost involved. The designated person will seek to establish whether the deceased had funds by way of savings, insurance policies, bereavement grants, credit union savings, etc, to meet the burial costs; whether the bill, or a portion of it, has been paid; whether the deceased left property (apart from the home in which the applicant resides) that would render the applicant or anybody else liable for the burial cost; whether a bereavement grant is available from any source (e.g. former employer, credit union, trade union etc.) and whether funds are available from any other source to meet the funeral cost.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

 159. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of applications for carer's allowance received, rejected and restored in each of the past six months to date in 2014; the extent to which individual circumstances were borne in mind before rejection; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47240/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested payment to eligible people who are looking after a person who needs support because of age, disability or illness, including mental illness. Every decision made on eligibility or continued eligibility is dealt with on a case by case basis based upon the individual circumstances of each applicant or recipient which are relevant to the various qualifying conditions associated with CA.

  Applicants and recipients are encouraged to provide complete and comprehensive information in support of their eligibility to help the Department make good quality and timely decisions. However, it is often not until a case is disallowed that the Department is provided with comprehensive information in support of eligibility.

  Information on the number of applicants who were awarded following a review of a prior disallowance is not available.

  The following tabular statement sets out the relevant available information.

  Carer’s allowance claims received, allowed, rejected, and withdrawn by month

MonthNumber ReceivedNumber Awarded(*)Number Disallowed(*)Number Withdrawn
Nov ‘141,3851,159910216
Oct ‘141,7371,354841162
Sep ‘141,6481,291673166
Aug ‘141,405936649110
Jul ‘141,6121,11067995
Jun ‘141,4771,037445104


  (*) Please note that the number shown as awarded in each month includes any case which was awarded in that month following a review of a prior decision to disallow.

Exceptional Needs Payment Applications

 160. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton further to Parliamentary Question No. 4 of 20 November 2014 if and when an exceptional needs payment will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who submitted all relevant forms on 18 November 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [47255/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned submitted an application for an exceptional needs payment. The claim was refused as the persons total income is €221.35 per week in excess of the basic SWA rate for the family composition. The person concerned has been notified of this decision in writing and advised of her right to an independent review of this decision.

Mortgage Interest Relief Application

 161. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if the circumstances surrounding the refusal of mortgage support in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be reviewed in view of their ongoing difficult circumstances following their revised bank loan arrangement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47257/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The claim for mortgage interest supplement in respect of the person concerned was disallowed on 23 December 2011. This decision was upheld by the social welfare appeals office in an appeal decision issued on 27 July, 2012.

  The grounds for disallowance were:

  a) The excess income of the person concerned over the supplementary welfare allowance rate plus the statutory household contribution to their housing costs was greater than the amount of qualifying interest.

  b) Information requested for an assessment of means was not supplied

  c) The circumstances of the person concerned at the time they took out the mortgage indicate that they could not have reasonably afforded the payments from their own resources

  d) The arrears outstanding on the loan were such that it would not have been reasonable to assume that payment of mortgage interest supplement would prevent repossession of their home

  e) The person concerned had not shown that the full loan was a qualifying loan for the purpose of mortgage interest supplement.

  As the mortgage interest supplement scheme was closed to new claims on 1 January, 2014, this Department is not in a position to accept a further application for mortgage interest supplement.

Scéim Shóisialta na Tuaithe

 162. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Tánaiste agus Aire Coimirce Sóisialaí Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton an bhfuil sé i gceist aici rialacha Scéim Shóisialta na Tuaithe a athrú trí riail a chur i bhfeidhm go gcaithfidh an “íocaíocht aonair” a bheith á fáil ag feirmeoir chun go mbeidh sé nó sí i dteideal a bheith rannpháirteach sa scéim [47268/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Déanann an Roinn athbhreithniú rialta ar na rialacha a rialaíonn oibriú a scéimeanna éagsúla fostaíochta lena chinntiú go bhfuil siad oiriúnach don chuspóir agus go léiríonn siad athruithe sa chás go bhféadfaidís impleachtaí a bheith acu i leith rochtana ar scéimeanna áirithe nó oibriú scéimeanna áirithe. Scrúdóidh an Roinn an tsaincheist a thug an Leas-Oifigeach chun solais i gcomhthéacs na rialacha a nuashonrú don Scéim Shóisialta Tuaithe ag féachaint d’aon leasuithe riachtanacha a dhéanamh ar na rialacha go luath in 2015.


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