Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
53. Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on a statement by the European Commission on 15 November that an EU citizen with a recognised disability who decides to move to another country should be able to enjoy the same benefits as in his home country. [43774/10]
75. Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to update guidelines regarding the habitual residency rule to ensure a consistent approach by all deciding officers and his further plans to amend the habitual residency rule to provide greater weight to the length of previous residency by the applicant. [43855/10]
77. Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason applicants for social welfare payments who are originally from Northern Ireland are now being excluded from payment in some instances even though they and their families are full-time residents here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43767/10]
The purpose of the habitual residence condition is to safeguard the social welfare system from abuse by restricting access for people who are not economically active and who have little or no established connection with Ireland.
A person who does not satisfy the habitual residence condition is not eligible for specified social welfare payments, regardless of citizenship, nationality, immigration status or any other factor. The social welfare schemes concerned are jobseeker’s allowance, one parent family payment, disability allowance, carer’s allowance, widow/er’s (non-contributory) pension, guardian’s payment (non-contributory), State pension (non-contributory), blind pension, supplementary welfare allowance (except urgent or exceptional needs payments), domiciliary care allowance and child benefit.
I am not aware of the European Commission statement as mentioned by Deputy Morgan, but I would point out that under EU law it is permissible to apply a residence test to certain non-contributory payments, such as disability allowance. On 29th October, Commissioner Andor stated in the European Parliament that the Irish practice in relation to habitual residence is in line with the relevant EU Regulations. However, if the Deputy wishes to provide details of the case he has in mind, I will be happy to follow up on it.
The Department’s guidelines are currently being reviewed with the intention of making these clearer and more user-friendly for deciding officers and customers alike. It is planned to have the new guidelines available by the end of the year.
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