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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 397-401
 Header Item Treatment Benefit Scheme Data
 Header Item Rental Accommodation Scheme
 Header Item Pensions Data
 Header Item State Pensions Payments
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 397-401

Treatment Benefit Scheme Data

 397. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the degree to which dental and ophthalmic benefit have been availed of in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [18337/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Dental and optical benefits claim numbers and the associated costs for the past 12 months (April 16 – March 17), are set out as follows: Dental - 318,500 claims; Optical - 171,500 claims.

Rental Accommodation Scheme

 398. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will undertake to review and amend by way of legislation, if found necessary, the situation whereby a person following family law issues may find themselves out of the family home on foot of a settlement which may equate to 50% of the value of the property but not necessarily so but who is thereafter means tested for the entire amount of the settlement and will not qualify for rent support until such time as all the proceeds have been dissipated or the person is reduced to dependence on charity while the other party not owning the former family home can qualify for any means tested payment arising, if urgent steps may be taken in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [18338/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Department operates a range of statutory means tested schemes, taking account of the income a claimant has in terms of cash, property (other than the family home) and capital. The combination of the means test and awarding differentiated rates of payment is premised on ensuring that social welfare payments are paid to those most in need and reflects the position that persons with reasonable amounts of income, capital and property are in a position to use that resource to support themselves.

The rent supplement scheme is supporting some 44,800 tenants for which the Government has provided €253 million for in 2017. The scheme is generally available to people whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and do not have alternative accommodation available. Rent supplement’s means test is calculated to ensure that a person, after the payment of rent, has an income equal to the rate of supplementary welfare allowance appropriate to their family circumstances less a minimum contribution which recipients are required to pay. The standard weekly minimum contribution is €30 for a single adult household and €40 for coupled households. Many recipients pay more than this amount because recipients are required, subject to income disregards, to contribute a proportion of assessable means towards their accommodation costs. As part of this means test, a capital assessment is completed which includes savings, investments, property (other than the family home) and would include any monies realised following a settlement outlined by the Deputy.

The Department has no role in financial and other settlements made between couples on separation, divorce or otherwise. Any capital owned by a person involved in such a settlement is assessed in the normal way for the purposes of means tested schemes and the appropriate disregards apply. I have no plans to change these conditions at this time.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pensions Data

 399. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar further to previous parliamentary questions in this regard, his proposals to address issues whereby persons who opted out of the workforce to rear their children or for whatever reason, who now find themselves short of the required contributions to avail of a reasonable pension and who by virtue of their contribution to the economic well-being of the country should now be qualified for the maximum possible pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18339/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The State pension contributory is one of a number of pensions the State pays to people over 66. The rate of payment to a person is related to the number of contributions made over the years into the Social Insurance Fund by the person. To ensure that the individual can maximise their entitlement to a State pension (contributory), all contributions paid or credited over their working life from when they first enter insurable employment until pension age are taken into account when assessing their entitlement and the level of that entitlement.

Entitlement levels are calculated by means of a ‘yearly average’ calculation, where the total contributions paid or credited are divided by the number of years of the working life. Payment rates are banded. For example, someone with a yearly average of 48 contributions will qualify for a full pension, whereas someone with a yearly average of 20 will qualify for a pension at 85% of the full rate.

The home-makers scheme makes qualification for a higher rate of State pension (contributory) easier for those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. The scheme, which was introduced in and took effect for periods from 1994, allows up to 20 years spent caring for children under 12 years of age (or caring for incapacitated people over that age) to be disregarded when a person’s social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes, subject to the standard qualifying conditions for State pension contributory also being satisfied. This has the effect of increasing the yearly average of the pensioner, which is used to set the rate of their pension.

My Department has estimated that the annual cost of extending the Homemakers scheme to allow people to avail of the full 20 years currently allowed under the scheme, encompassing periods prior to 1994, could cost some €290m in 2017, and this figure would rise at a faster rate than the rate of the overall cost of State pensions. This is a very significant cost, and the main beneficiaries would be people who already have significant household means, and who do not therefore qualify for a means-tested payment.

Where someone does not qualify for a full rate contributory pension, they may qualify for an alternative payment. If their spouse has a contributory pension, they may qualify for an Increase for a Qualified Adult amounting up to 90% of a full rate pension. Alternatively, they may qualify for a State pension (non-contributory), which amounts up to 95% of the maximum contributory rate. While this payment is subject to a household means-test, there are very significant disregards which mean that over 70% of such pensioners qualify at the full rate.

Following on from the proposal in the National Pensions Framework (2010) that a “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) should replace the yearly average approach, for new pensioners from 2020, officials of my Department are currently working on its detailed development, with a view to making proposals for consideration later in the year. This is a very significant reform with considerable legal, administrative, and technical elements in its implementation. An important element in the final design of the scheme will be the position of people who have gaps in their contribution records for various reasons, and this factor is being considered very carefully in developing this reform.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions Payments

 400. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which he can address the anomalies of the situation whereby persons with a mixture of PAYE and self-employed contributions may find themselves entitled to only a reduced rate of pension arising from the 1988 Act which now apparently does not enable the applicant to choose the most beneficial basis on which to claim a pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18340/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar All applications for state pension (contributory) must be assessed under the eligibility conditions set out in social welfare legislation. This provides that where an applicant for state pension (contributory) became a self-employed contributor on 6 April 1988 and, at any time before that date, was an employed contributor, the date on which they first entered insurance, or 6 April 1988, whichever is the more favourable, shall be regarded as their date of entry into insurance for the purposes of the application of the ‘yearly-average’ assessment.

  As the person concerned did not become a self-employed contributor from 6 April 1988, the standard eligibility conditions for state pension (contributory) apply, and his date of entry into insurance was taken as 8 April 1967. According to the records of the Department, he has a total of 1,575 reckonable paid and credited contributions from that date of entry into insurance to end-December 2016 (the last complete contribution year prior to reaching pension age). This gives a yearly average of 32, which qualifies him for a reduced-rate state pension (contributory) of 90% of maximum rate, with effect from 8 April 2017.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals

 401. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the applications for various social welfare payments which are most commonly refused on application and referred to appeal or oral hearing; the number of cases subsequently rejected or approved on appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18341/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The tables that follow provide the details which have been requested by the Deputy in respect of 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017.

  The schemes with the highest number of appeals to the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2015, 2016 and to end of March 2017 were - disability allowance (6,435 in 2015/4,912 in 2016/1,444 in 2017), carer’s allowance (3,188 in 2015/3,887 in 2016/1,003 in 2017), jobseeker’s allowance - means (2,174 in 2015/2,050 in 2016/440 in 2017), jobseeker’s allowance - payments (2,058 in 2015/2,031 in 2016/457 in 2017), supplementary welfare allowance (2,125 in 2015/1,970 in 2016/384 in 2017), invalidity pension (1,857 in 2015/1,362 in 2016/385 in 2017) and domiciliary care allowance (1,258 in 2015/1,198 in 2016/273 in 2017).

  Details of appeal outcomes for the above schemes are set out in the tables below. Overall, 58.8% of the 25,406 appeals which were finalised in 2015 had a favourable outcome for the appellant, i.e. were either allowed in full or in part, or resolved by way of a revised decision by a Deciding Officer/Designated Person. 59.2% of the 23,220 appeals finalised in 2016 and 56.25% of the 5,000 appeals finalised to date in 2017 had a favourable outcome for the appellant.

  Of the 18,913 appeals which were finalised by Appeals Officers in 2015, 6,886 (36.4%) were determined following an oral hearing. 4,444 (64.5%) of these had a favourable outcome for the appellant. Of the 16,990 appeals finalised by Appeals Officers in 2016, 6,527 (38.4%) were determined following an oral hearing. 4,251 (65.1%) of these had a favourable outcome for the appellant. Of the 3,641 appeals finalised by Appeals Officers to the end of March 2017, 1,526 (41.9%) were determined following an oral hearing. (61.5%) of these had a favourable outcome for the appellant.

  There are a number of reasons why a decision which was refused at first instance might be successful on appeal and it is not necessarily the case that the first decision was wrong.

  Where new evidence is provided with an appeal, the original decision may be revised by the Deciding Officer or Designated Person. This was the case in some 35% of favourable appeal outcomes in 2015 and some 37% of favourable appeal outcomes in 2016. Where the decision is not revised in the Department in light of the appeal contentions, further evidence is often provided by the appellant as the appeal process proceeds. In addition, the Appeals Officer may gain insights when they meet the appellant in person at oral hearing which may also influence the outcome of the appeal.

  Social Welfare legislation provides that an Appeals Officer may determine an appeal without an oral hearing where s/he is of the opinion that it can be determined fairly on the basis of the documentary evidence provided. In general, where there is a conflict in the documentary evidence presented, an Appeals Officer will convene an oral hearing in order to explore the evidence and seek to resolve any conflict.

  In addition, where an appellant requests an oral hearing, the request is generally granted unless the Appeals Officer is of the opinion that the appeal can be allowed on a summary basis, or where there is clearly nothing to be gained by granting an oral hearing. An example of this would be where the appeal question relates to PRSI contribution conditions or means and the underlying PRSI contribution figures or means are not disputed.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

  Appeal Receipts 2015 – 2017

-201520162017

(to 31/3/2017)
Blind Person’s Pension22135
Carers Allowance3,1883,8871,003
Carers Benefit939530
Child Benefit552595164
Disability Allowance6,4354,9121,444
Illness Benefit1,204819109
Death Benefit11-
Partial Capacity Benefit42427
Domiciliary Care Allowance1,2581,198273
Deserted Wives Benefit1971
Deserted Wives Allowance1--
Farm Assist20119633
Bereavement Grant63-
Family Income Supplement447510159
Invalidity Pension1,8571,362385
Liable Relatives26231
Maternity Benefit718725
Paternity Benefit-12
One Parent Family Payment36831379
State Pension (Contributory)264366109
State Pension (Non-Contributory)348397107
State Pension (Transition)321
Occupational Injury Benefit655611
Disablement Pension34729877
Occupational Injury-Medical Care441
Incapacity Supplement1292
Guardian's Payment (Con)493810
Guardian's Payment (Non-Con)18175
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)2,1742,050440
Jobseeker's Allowance2,0582,031457
BTW Family Dividend645211
Jobseeker's Transitional344312
Pre-Retirement Allowance--1
Recoverable Benefits & Assistance26249
Jobseeker's Benefit735637151
Treatment Benefit35-
Carer’s Support Grant* 12416437
Insurability of Employment15615160
Supplementary Welfare Allowance2,1251,970384
Survivor's Pension (Con)404911
Survivor's Pension (Non-con)25266
Widows Parent Grant108-
All Appeals24,47522,4615,622


* Previously called Respite Care Grant   
Outcome of Disability Allowance Appeals 2015– 2017
  Favourable Decisions  
 Appeal ReceiptsRevised Deciding Officers

Decisions
Appeals AllowedAppeals Partly AllowedAppeals DisallowedWithdrawn
20156,4351,4433,384851,75177
20164,9128152,830881,36775
2017

(to 31/3/2017)
1,444128457232938
Outcome of Carer’s Allowance Appeals 2015– 2017
  Favourable Decisions  
 Appeal ReceiptsRevised Deciding Officers

Decisions
Appeals AllowedAppeals Partly AllowedAppeals DisallowedWithdrawn
20153,1885791,3521551,35550
20163,8878151,3751451,23752
2017

(to 31/3/2017)
1,0032123663531712
Outcome of Jobseeker’s Allowance (Means) Appeals 2015– 2017
  Favourable Decisions  
 Appeal ReceiptsRevised Deciding Officers

Decisions
Appeals AllowedAppeals Partly AllowedAppeals DisallowedWithdrawn
20152,1742992841081,336229
20162,0503382871201,216198
2017

(to 31/3/2017)
44071522927958
Outcome of Jobseeker’s Allowance (Payments) Appeals 2015– 2017
  Favourable Decisions  
 Appeal ReceiptsRevised Deciding Officers

Decisions
Appeals AllowedAppeals Partly AllowedAppeals DisallowedWithdrawn
20152,058260536116972175
20162,03132452598945141
2017

(to 31/3/2017)
457881131922347
Outcome of Supplementary Welfare Allowance Appeals 2015– 2017
  Favourable Decisions  
 Appeal ReceiptsRevised Deciding Officers

Decisions
Appeals AllowedAppeals Partly AllowedAppeals DisallowedWithdrawn
20152,125373634771,069177
20161.97034653275923156
2017

(to 31/3/2017)
3847386916441
Outcome of Invalidity Pension Appeals 2015– 2017
  Favourable Decisions  
 Appeal ReceiptsRevised Deciding Officers

Decisions
Appeals AllowedAppeals Partly AllowedAppeals DisallowedWithdrawn
20151,8575111,1351742137
20161,3626426821030218
2017

(to 31/3/2017)
3851751042784
Outcome of Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals 2015– 2017
  Favourable Decisions  
 Appeal ReceiptsRevised Deciding Officers

Decisions
Appeals AllowedAppeals Partly AllowedAppeals DisallowedWithdrawn
20151,258313571402268
20161,1984695961825011
2017

(to 31/3/2017)
273791132483

Tables ctg



Number and Outcome of Appeals Determined following Oral Hearings 2015
-AllowedPartially allowedDisallowedNo. of Oral Hearings
Blind Person’s Pension1-34
Carers Allowance7331015161,350
Carers Benefit1051833
Child Benefit29123778
Disability Allowance1,497445502,091
Illness Benefit109688203
Partial Capacity Benefit3-25
Death Benefit--11
Domiciliary Care Allowance242782331
Deserted Wives Allowance1--1
Deserted Wives Benefit54211
Farm Assist23143067
Bereavement Grant1-12
Liable Relatives--11
Family Income Supplement1631938
Invalidity Pension4518147606
Maternity Benefit--66
One Parent Family Payment621565142
State Pension (Contributory)1821939
State Pension (Non-Contributory)34174798
State Pension (Transition)0112
Occupational Injury Benefit8-917
Disablement Pension771056143
Incapacity Supplement5--5
Guardian's Payment (Con)63413
Guardian's Payment (Non-Con)5--5
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)17257253482
Jobseeker's Allowance22759208494
Jobseeker's Transitional1--1
Recoverable Benefits & Assistance1--1
Jobseeker’s Benefit451937101
Carer’s Support Grant* 1821333
Insurability of Employment17-3451
Supplementary Welfare Allowance20724187418
Survivor's Pension (Con)3036
Survivor's Pension (Non-con)3126
Widows Parent Grant--11
All Appeals4,0304142,4426,886
* Previously called Respite Care Grant



Number and Outcome of Appeals Determined following Oral Hearings 2016

 AllowedPartially allowedDisallowedNo. of Oral Hearings
Blind Person’s Pension3-25
Carers Allowance844855501,479
Carers Benefit82515
Child Benefit23123469
Disability Allowance1,305514871,843
Illness Benefit82368153
Partial Capacity Benefit5-510
Domiciliary Care Allowance2637109379
Deserted Wives Benefit4138
Farm Assist23262978
Liable Relatives--11
Family Income Supplement3252057
Invalidity Pension3474109460
Maternity Benefit91414
One Parent Family Payment491550114
State Pension (Contributory)1663254
State Pension (Non-Contributory)452053118
State Pension (Transition)1113
Occupational Injury Benefit91616
Disablement Pension1011063174
Incapacity Supplement1135
Guardian's Payment (Con)91515
Guardian's Payment (Non-Con)81211
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)13656182374
Jobseeker's Allowance22559221505
Jobseeker's Transitional31812
Recoverable Benefits & Assistance1-23
Jobseeker's Benefit541441109
Carer’s Support Grant *2021133
Insurability of Employment1722847
Supplementary Welfare Allowance17825133336
Survivor's Pension (Con)95620
Survivor's Pension (Non-con)3126
Widows Parent Grant--11
All Appeals3,8334182,2766,527
* Previously called Respite Care Grant



Number and Outcome of Appeals Determined following Oral Hearings 2017 (to 31 March 2017)
-AllowedPartially allowedDisallowedNo. of Oral Hearings
Blind Person’s Pension-1-1
Carers Allowance25128164443
Carers Benefit51814
Child Benefit821020
Disability Allowance21915107341
Illness Benefit4012566
Partial Capacity Benefit2-13
Domiciliary Care Allowance5221973
Deserted Wives Benefit1--1
Farm Assist651021
Liable Relatives--11
Family Income Supplement51612
Invalidity Pension5012778
One Parent Family Payment1331026
State Pension (Contributory)411015
State Pension (Non-Contributory)2031235
Occupational Injury Benefit--33
Disablement Pension1131125
Incapacity Supplement11-2
Guardian's Payment (Con)3-14
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)33184596
Jobseeker's Allowance56853117
Jobseeker's Transitional-1-1
Jobseeker's Benefit611219
Carer’s Support Grant* 6-915
Insurability of Employment4-711
Supplementary Welfare Allowance3763376
Survivor's Pension (Con)1-23
Survivor's Pension (Non-con)2-24
All Appeals8361025881,526
* Previously called Respite Care Grant


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