Tuesday, 25 March 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
626. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way in which a person (details supplied) in County Mayo was refused disability allowance after the medical report which came from the private doctors, private consultants and her Department's own medical referee; and if her Department is not heeding their own doctors as well as the private doctors in this case. [8262/03]
Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): The person's claim for disability allowance was refused by a deciding officer following an examination by a medical assessor of the Department who expressed the view that he does not fulfil the medical condition for this payment.
He appealed this decision to the social welfare appeals office and, in the context of his appeal, he was examined by another medical assessor on 19 December 2002 who was also of the opinion that he did not satisfy the relevant medical eligibility criteria. His case has been considered by an appeals officer who is of the opinion that an oral hearing is required. This hearing will take place shortly.
In arriving at his determination the appeals officer will take into account all the evidence presented, including the medical reports. The person is currently in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance pending the outcome of his appeal. Under social welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.
627. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason for the need to waste time and resources in sending out letters regarding the child dependent allowance to people who are not receiving a child dependent allowance for a certain child. [8284/03]
Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): Reviews of continuing entitlement to child dependent allowance are systematically undertaken by my Department. In order to determine the continued eligibility of children between the ages of 18 and 22 years who are in full time education, recipients of the allowance are requested to provide certification from the relevant educational institution. In this particular  case a certification form was incorrectly issued to the recipient to whom the qualified child allowance for the child in question was no longer payable. The error is regretted.
628. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the assistance available to persons whose spouses have died and who have to employ domestic workers to help in rearing children and maintaining households; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8305/03]
Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): A person with dependent children who has been recently widowed is entitled to: a widowed parent grant, a once-off payment for a widowed parent with a dependent child or children in the immediate aftermath of bereavement. This grant is €2,500; and a bereavement grant of €635 which is based on the PRSI contributions of the person who died or the spouse.
Widows and widowers who do not qualify for the widow or widower contributory pension qualify, subject to the means test, for the one parent family payment if they have dependent children. A recipient of the one parent family payment may earn up to €146.50 a week and may still qualify for a full payment. If a recipient earns between €146.50 and €293 she or he may qualify for a reduced payment. If a recipient of this payment subsequently exceeds €293 the payment may continue for one year at half rate.
A recipient of either contributory or non-contributory widow or widower pension may also be eligible, in addition, to half the personal rate of certain benefits such as unemployment and disability benefit for a limited period where the conditions of entitlement to those benefits are fulfilled. Recipients of either pension may also apply for fuel allowance or family income supplement.
Since 1998 the rate of payment of widow or widower contributory and non-contributory has increased by about 38%. Recipients of the contributory pension receive a higher rate of payment –€130.30 for widows or widowers under age 66 – and higher child dependent, €21.60, increases than many other welfare recipients. In the programme for Government, we have committed to implementing further improvements to the widow or widower pension.
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