Tuesday, 16 December 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
610. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the measures she is taking to ensure that people who are awaiting arrears of disability allowance do not have to wait up to five months for arrears to issue as is the case at present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31394/03]
Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. Entitlement to disability allowance is contingent on the applicant satisfying both medical and means conditions. There is an unavoidable time lag involved in making the necessary investigations and inquiries to ensure accurate decisions. The appropriate weekly rate is put into payment without delay once entitlement is decided.
Arrears accruing for the period from date of entitlement to date of first payment are then computed and issued as soon as is practicable. Many claimants are in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance or other primary social welfare payment during this period. The amount of such overlapping payments must be established and deducted when computing the net arrears due.
One of my Department's priorities is to minimise the time lags which are involved in processing claims generally. Targets are set for claim processing, including calculation and payment of arrears, but pressures can arise at certain times due to claim volumes, resource issues, etc. My Department makes every effort to ensure, however, that payments are made as quickly and expeditiously as possible.
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