Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Thursday, 24 November 1983

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 346 No. 2

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325.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a non-contributory old age pension will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It was decided by the local pension committee on 29 August 1983 that the person concerned is entitled to an old age pension at the rate of £4.60 per week plus £2.40 adult dependant allowance from 1 July 1983. This is the rate appropriate to the assessment of his means, consisting of earnings and some capital.

A pension book at the appropriate rate was issued on 2 September 1983.

326.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason pay-related benefit was not paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford for a period.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 30 April 1983 and was paid to 6 June 1983 after which date he was certified fit to resume work. He was paid at the rate appropriate to a single person based on the information on the claim form and first medical certificate submitted by the claimant. He was not entitled to pay-related benefit as regulations operative from 4 April 1983 provide that pay-related benefit is not payable where the total amount of disability benefit payable equals or exceeds 80 per cent of a claimants average reckonable weekly earnings in the relevant income year.

[337] The claimant was paid disability benefit at the rate of £31.65 per week. This amount exceeded 80 per cent of his reckonable weekly earnings (£29.50) in the 1981-82 income tax year which governs his claims.

He has been requested to submit full details of earnings in 1981-82 if he contends that his earnings were in excess of £1,844 in that year. On receipt of this information his claim for pay-related benefit will be reviewed.

327.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if unemployment assistance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned claimed unemployment assistance on 7 November 1983. His case was referred to a Social Welfare Officer for investigation of his means. When the inquiries have been completed his means will be assessed and his entitlement to unemployment assistance will be determined accordingly.

328.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will be allowed to sign for unemployment benefit; and when payments will be made to her.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The claim of the person concerned to unemployment benefit was disallowed on the grounds that she was not genuinely seeking work and accordingly she did not fulfil the condition of being available for work.

She appealed against the disallowance and attended an oral hearing of her case on 25 August 1983. The appeals officer upheld the disallowance of her claim and she was notified accordingly on 26 August 1983.

She ceased to sign as unemployed after 30 August 1983.

329.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when arrangements will be made to have children's allowance [338] payments continued in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned submitted an application for continuation of children's allowance on 11 October 1983, in respect of his daughter, who reached 16 years of age on October 1983.

Children's allowance at the rate of £11.25 per month has been awarded in repect of this child from November, 1983. An allowance book payable from November 1983 was issued on 18 November 1983.

330.

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when unemployment assistance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned was in receipt of disability benefit from 9 March 1981 to 29 October 1983. He claimed unemployment benefit and his claim was allowed at the weekly rate of £65.60 and all benefit due from 31 October 1983 has been paid.

Further weekly payments will be made to him as they become due.

331.

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when unemployment assistance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned is at present in receipt of unemployment assistance at £9.20 weekly being the maximum rate of unemployment assistance payable to him £66.90 less £57.70 means. His means are derived from the profit from his holding.

He recently appealed against the amount of means assessed against him and his case has been referred to an appeals officer for determination. The rate of unemployment assistance payable will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

332.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  asked the Minister for [339] Social Welfare when unemployment benefit or assistance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The unemployment benefit claim of the person concerned was disallowed from 25 October 1982 on the grounds that he was not making genuine efforts to find work and accordingly he was not available for work. He appealed against the disallowance and attended an oral hearing of his case on 17 February 1983. The appeals officer upheld the disallowance of his claim.

He continued to sign as unemployed and his claim was again disallowed on the grounds that he was not genuinely seeking work from 18 February 1983.

Inquiries are being made at present to ascertain if he is now available for work. His entitlement to unemployment benefit will be reviewed in the light of the outcome.

333.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the estimated cost of granting widows who are entitled to widows contributory pension on their husbands insurance contributions, a contributory old age pension on reaching 66 years.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  At present some 39,200 widows over 66 years of age receive widows' contributory pensions and do not qualify for old age contributory pensions.

It is estimated that some 39,000 of these qualified for pension on the basis of their late husbands' insurance records.

The cost of granting old age contributory pensions to all of these is estimated at £7.5 million.

334.

Mr. H. Byrne: Information on Hugh Byrne  Zoom on Hugh Byrne  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will issue a duplicate free travel permit to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who lost the original.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  A form of application for replacement of his free travel pass has been issued to the person concerned. [340] When the completed form is returned to the Department, the question of issuing a replacement pass will be considered and he will be notified of the outcome.

335.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason unemployment assistance is not being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned is at present in receipt of unemployment assistance at £49.10 weekly being the maximum weekly rate payable to him £92.35 less means £43.25. In his case means are derived from the profit from his holding.

He has appealed against the amount of means assessed against him and his case has been referred to an appeals officer for determination. The rate of unemployment assistance payable to him will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

336.

Mr. H. Byrne: Information on Hugh Byrne  Zoom on Hugh Byrne  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a free electricity allowance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned is receiving an unmarried mother's allowance from the Department. This, however, is not one of the pensions or allowances which would qualify her for a free electricity allowance and her application was accordingly disallowed.

337.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  asked the Minister for Social Welfare how a sum of £5 was assessed as means in a claim for unemployment allowance made by a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon; the reason for the continuous reduction of the allowance; and if he will approve the payment of unemployment allowance at the maximum rate in this case.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned was assessed with means £5.50 weekly comprising £0.40 derived from the profit from his holding plus £5.10 derived from a half [341] share of his wife's disabled person's maintenance allowance. He is, accordingly, in receipt of unemployment assistance at £45.25 weekly being the maximum rate payable to him £50.75 less £5.50.

He has appealed against the amount of means assessed against him and his case has been referred to an appeals officer for determination. The rate of unemployment assistance payable to him will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

338.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when disability benefit at the maximum rate and arrears will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Laois.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 7 October 1983 and has been paid to 12 November 1983, the date of the latest medical certificate received.

He is being paid at £61.95 per week, appropriate rate payable to a married man with one qualified dependant who has 26 credited contributions in 1981-82, the contribution year governing his claim.

In order to qualify for benefit at the maximum rate the claimant would need to have at least 48 contributions paid or credited in the 1981-82 contribution year.

339.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the number of new applications for unemployment assistance that have been refused since 1 January 1983, the number of recipients who have received reduced payment since 1 January 1983; and the number of recipients who have been cut off since 1 January 1983.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Statistics are not maintained of the number of new applications for unemployment assistance received or refused in relation to any category of applicant. Statistics in relation to small-holders whose unemployment assistance [342] payments were reduced or disallowed are available since May 1983 only. The number of smallholder recipients at 28 October 1983 whose unemployment assistance payments had been reduced was 1,466 and whose payments had been disallowed was 1,141.

340.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason disability benefit has not been paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny as the application was made some time ago.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 24 October 1983. She is not entitled to payment of benefit because according to the records of the Department she does not have the required minimum of 26 contributions paid or credited in 1981-82, the contribution year governing her claim. The Department's records show only 16 contributions recorded on her behalf in that year.

341.

Mr. De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the number of persons in continuous receipt of unemployment assistance for more than (a) 12 months, (b) two years and (c) three years at the latest date for which figures are available.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Statistics are not maintained in a way which would enable the information requested by the Deputy to be furnished. However, statistics published by the Central Statistics Office show that at 22 April 1983 there were 45,145 applicants for unemployment asistance who had been continuously on the live register for more than 12 months. This figure would include people who are on unemployment assistance for less than 12 months but who were previously in receipt of unemployment benefit. No more detailed breakdown of this figure is available.

342.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the position regarding an application for a pension by [343] a person (details supplied) in County Donegal.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned has been awarded retirement pension at the weekly rate of £81.65 with effect from 21 April 1983, increased to £91.45 from 30 June 1983. The weekly rate of pension is the rate appropriate to a married man with two children having a yearly average of 33 contributions. According to the records of the Department he had a total of 991 paid and credited contributions in the average test period which, in his case, is from 5 January 1953 to 5 April 1983.

He is at present in receipt of disability benefit and payment has been issued to him for the period up to 26 November 1983. A retirement pension book containing orders for payment from 1 December 1983 is being sent to the designated post office for collection by him and he is being notified accordingly. The amount of retirement pension payable from 21 April 1983 to 30 November 1983, less the amount of disability benefit paid to him in that period, will be sent direct to him by means of a payable order.

Details of his Irish insurance record have been sent to the Department of Health and Social Security, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, for examination of his entitlement to a British retirement pension. That Department will reply direct to him.

343.

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael P. Kitt  Zoom on Michael P. Kitt  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if unemployment assistance will be increased in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned is at present in receipt of unemployment assistance at £3.35 weekly being the maximum rate payable to him £58.30 less £54.95 means which are derived from the profit from his holding.

He appealed against the amount of means assessed against him. His case was referred to a social welfare officer for additional inquiries and when these are completed it will be referred to an [344] appeals officer for determination. The rate of unemployment assistance payable to him will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

344.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason the payment of disability benefit was stopped last March without any explanation to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and the reason she has received no acknowledgements of her inquiries in this matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 29 October 1981 to 23 January 1982, maternity benefit from 25 January 1982 to 22 April 1982 and disability benefit from 23 April 1982.

Where a person has less than 156 contributions paid their entitlement to payment of disability benefit is limited to 52 weeks. According to the records of the Department the person concerned has only 140 contributions paid since she entered insurable employment in 1978.

Her entitlement to payment of disability benefit was therefore exhausted on 26 January 1983. However, payment was issued to 23 April 1983 resulting in an overpayment of £347.52.

In order to requalify for payment of benefit it will be necessary for her to resume insurable employment for which the appropriate contributions are paid for a minimum period of 13 weeks.

She was notified on 14 April 1983 that benefit was being discontinued and she was also informed of the conditions necessary to requalify for further benefits.

There is no trace of any correspondence from the person concerned regarding the disallowance.

345.

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the position regarding an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Galway against the decision of his Department in relation to his application for an old age pension.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It has been decided by an [345] appeals officer on 22 November 1983 that the person concerned is entitled to an old age pension at the increased rate of £22.45 a week plus £11.30 adult dependant allowance from 14 January 1983 to 2 February 1983, £22.45 from 3 February 1983 and £26.60 from 1 July 1983.

These are the rates appropriate to the latest assessment of his means, consisting of half the weekly value of his own and his wife's British retirement pensions, profit from letting of flats and a nominal sum in respect of capital.

A supplementary book payable from 7 October 1983 in respect of the increase awarded has issued and a payable order covering the arrears will be issued separately.

346.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a free telephone rental allowance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned has been approved for free telephone rental allowance and a notification to this effect issued to her on 22 November 1983.

The Department of Posts and Telegraphs have been advised of the decision and will arrange to apply the allowance from the date on which telephone service is provided.

347.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if unemployment assistance at the correct rate is being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned was in receipt of unemployment assistance with means assessed at £16.30 weekly derived from the notional value of his land. His case was referred to a social welfare officer for a review of his means but he refused to make details of his creamery accounts available for information. He was however afforded a further opportunity to co-operate with the social welfare [346] officer and he subsequently furnished the required information.

Following the completion of inquiries he was assessed with means at £7.80 weekly and the rate of unemployment assistance payable was increased to £55.95 weekly, increasing to £62.35 from 29 June 1983 but reducing to £55.95 from 24 August 1983 when his child attained 18 years. His rate was, however, increased from 5 October 1983 to £59.10 weekly as a long term recipient of unemployment assistance. Arrangements were made to pay all adjusting arrears due this week.

He ceased to be entitled to unemployment assistance from 10 November 1983 on which date he attained the age of 66 years.

348.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a non-contributory old age pension will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The old age pension claim of the person concerned has been partially investigated. Information on one of the claimant's bank accounts is awaited and when this is received the case will be referred to the local pension committee for decision. If a pension is recommended by the social welfare officer, it will be put into payment on a provisional basis pending the committee's decision.

349.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when arrears of children's allowance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Children's allowance was awarded to the person concerned from 1 August 1983, the month following that in which the family took up residence in the State. This is the earliest date from which an allowance may be paid in this case.

An allowance book covering payment of all allowance due from 1 August 1983 was issued on 6 September 1983.

350.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Information on Eugene Fitzgerald  Zoom on Eugene Fitzgerald  asked the [347] Minister for Social Welfare the reason deserted wife's benefit has been refused in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork whose husband left of his own volition.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The claim of the person concerned to deserted wife's allowance was originally disallowed on 11 November 1983 for the reason that it was held that her husband had not left her of his own volition. However on receipt of further information the claimant has been awarded deserted wife's allowance with effect from 31 March 1983 at the maximum rate of £52.30 per week increased to £58.55 from 30 June 1983. This is the rate payable to a woman with two qualified children.

An order book payable from 1 December 1983 has been sent to the designated post office for collection by the claimant and she has been notified accordingly. A payable order in respect of arrears for the period from 31 March 1983 to 30 November 1983, less deduction of supplementary welfare allowance paid to her by the Southern Health Board during that time, will be issued direct to her within the next few days.

351.

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey  Zoom on Donal Carey  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when disability benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Clare.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 10 December 1981 and has been paid to date. There was a delay, however, in issuing benefit from 13 September 1983 which was due to an administrative error. Payment of the arrears of benefit from 13 September 1983 was issued to the claimant on 17 November 1983.

352.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will take a decision on the application for unemployment assistance made by a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned is at [348] present in receipt of unemployment assistance at £15.95 weekly being the maximum rate payable to him £29.40 less means £13.45. Means in his case are derived from the yearly value of rented land.

He appealed against the amount of means assessed against him and his case was referred to an appeals officer for determination. His rate of unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

353.

Mr. E. O'Keeffe: Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason unemployment assistance is not being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The person concerned claimed unemployment assistance and his case was referred to a social welfare officer for investigation of his means. He refused to furnish details of his income and his claim was disallowed on the grounds that by failing to furnish details of his means he failed to show that his means did not exceed the statutory limit.

It is open to him to appeal against the disallowance of his claim. A form for this purpose may be obtained at his local office.

354.

Mr. E. O'Keeffe: Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  asked the Minister for Social Welfare when optical treatment will be provided for a person (details supplied) in County Cork.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  One of the qualifying conditions for receipt of optical benefit in the case of persons over 21 years of age is that not less than 26 contributions should be paid or credited in a governing contribution year. The governing contribution year for all claims in respect of treatment in 1983 is the 1981-82 contribution year, 6 April 1981 to 5 April 1982.

The person concerned claimed optical benefit on 28 June 1983 but she did not have an RSI number and there was no record of any employment contributions having been paid on her behalf since [349] April 1979. Further inquiries were made to determine her entitlement to benefit. It has now been confirmed that she is qualified for optical benefit and her claim has been approved. A letter of authorisation for presentation to her optician has been issued to her and she has also been notified of her correct RSI number.


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