Tuesday, 13 November 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned was  awarded a death grant at the maximum rate of £100.00 following the death of her husband. A cheque for this amount was issued to her on 31 October 1990.
113. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in Cork has been denied disability benefit for nine weeks, despite the fact that medical evidence had been provided, outlining the reasons she could not attend for medical examination.
However, the explanation for non-attendance at the medical referee examination on 14 September 1990 furnished by her certifying doctor has been accepted and benefit for the period 26 September 1990 to 30 October 1990 is being made.
114. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17, who is entitled to claim unemployment assistance for his common law wife and her five children and also qualifies for a medical card on the same basis, has not been granted the same facility for the purposes of child benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The child benefit claim of the  person concerned was decided in accordance with the relevant regulations which deal with the question of normal residency of qualified children for child benefit purposes.
Entitlement to child dependant increases under the unemployment assistance scheme is dealt with under separate regulations and these provide that a child who is living with one parent only shall be regarded as normally residing with that parent and with no other person. Where, however, that parent is a member of the household he/she must elect to have the child regarded as normally resident with them. In the absence of such election the child is regarded as normally residing with the head(s) of the household of which the child is normally a member.
In view of the anomalies which can arise in this area I have requested my Department to review the whole question of normal residency with a view to rationalising the situation. This case had been brought to my attention and I have already asked my Department to reconsider this case in the light of this review.
115. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason the application form for family income supplement does not give consideration to those dependants who are over the age of 18 years and are still being maintained by their family while attending third level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): A minority of low paid workers may be faced with a situation whereby the payments to which they would be entitled, if they became unemployed, would exceed their wages. This arises particularly for persons with dependent children, who are entitled to child dependant allowances in respect of unemployment payments. The family  income supplement scheme (FIS) is intended to offset this disincentive by providing cash supplements, which vary with family size, to low paid workers with families.
As an unemployed person on unemployment benefit or short term unemployment assistance is not entitled to a child dependant payment for children over 18 years who are attending third level education, the question of extending a FIS payment in respect of such children does not arise in this context. Accordingly, the application form for FIS does not seek details of children over 18 years and attending third level education.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned and his wife are currently in receipt of a reduced rate non-contributory old age pension at the weekly rate of £25.00 each. This is the rate of pension appropriate to their means, derived mainly from their holding, which have been assessed as £33.95 a week each.
The case of the couple concerned has been referred to the social welfare officer for re-investigation. On completion of the necessary inquiries, their entitlements to pension will be reviewed and they will be advised of the outcome as soon as possible.
117. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will extend the free electricity allowance scheme so that persons aged between 65 and 80, who are entitled to the free electricity allowance and free television licence will retain their entitlement, when a person comes to live with them.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Earlier this year I announced an extension of the free schemes which will allow persons over 80 years of age who are entitled to free electricity allowance, free television licence or free natural or  bottled gas allowance to retain their entitlement when a person comes to live with them.
The further extension of this concession to persons between 65 and 80 years of age would have serious financial implications for the scheme involved and could only be considered in a budgetary context.
118. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will review the position of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 who was on long term unemployment assistance and was changed to disability benefit when he became terminally ill with lung cancer, and as result lost his fuel allowance, Christmas bonus and butter vouchers; and if in view of the special circumstances he will be granted an invalidity pension or have his allowances returned.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned was in receipt of long term unemployment assistance up to 14 March 1990. If he had continued to receive UA, he would currently be receiving a payment of £70.30 per week at present, this rate would include the fuel allowances for the heating season and only £62.30 per week at other times.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned has been awarded a living alone allowance at the rate of £4.10 a week with effect from 4  October 1990. An order book for this allowance will be available for collection at his local post office shortly.
One of the conditions for receipt of fuel allowance is that a claimant's means must not exceed £5.00 per week. The person concerned is in receipt of a British retirement pension in excess of this amount and he is, therefore, not entitled to a fuel allowance.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned is in receipt of a pension from his former employer in Britain. The emergency rate of income tax is being deducted at source from this pension and as a result the person concerned is being paid a reduced rate of disabled persons maintenance allowance by the South-Eastern Health Board as a supplement to it. I have been informed by the board that payment of disabled person's maintenance allowance will cease when the person's tax affairs are sorted out.
The board have informed me that a fuel allowance is not paid to persons who receive a reduced rate of disabled person's maintenance allowance. If the person concerned has any exceptional needs which he cannot meet it is open to him to apply for assistance to the community welfare officer at his local health centre.
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