Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
277. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social Protection the average waiting time for a decision on applications for disability allowance; if she will provide a breakdown on a county basis in tabular form; her plans to reduce the average waiting time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15672/11]
Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The average number of weeks taken to award a disability allowance claim for the period January to April 2011 was 17 weeks. The department does not hold statistics on a county by county basis for processing times for disability allowance applications. To be eligible for disability allowance, a claimant must (inter alia) satisfy a medical assessment, a means test and be habitually resident in the state.
The processing time for individual disability allowance claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the three main criteria listed above. Certain claims have to be referred to social welfare inspectors for means investigation and this can add to the overall processing times. These claims are often complex and can take time to investigate. In addition, factors outside the department’s control can have an impact, for example, the supply of relevant information by the customer, employers or other third parties.
The measures taken to improve processing times for disability allowance claims include increasing the number of claims which are desk assessed for means purposes and reducing the numbers being sent to Social Welfare Inspectors (SWIs). Since August 2009 all claims are being desk assessed by the Medical Assessors thus obviating the need to call claimants for in-person medical examinations. Since November 2010, all medical reports for new disability allowance claims are being scanned to make processing of medical assessments more efficient. The scheme is scheduled to go on a new IT platform later this year, as part of Department’s business transformation programme which should improve processing times and further enhance customer service.
Customers waiting on a decision on their disability allowance claim, who have urgent income support needs, can apply for the means tested supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) from their local community welfare officer.
279. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not been paid arrears of payments of his contributory old age pension in view of the fact that he has been informed that he is entitled to a higher rate of pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15729/11]
Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The person concerned had an outstanding self-employment PRSI liability, which he fully discharged in May 2011. Following confirmation that his liability had been discharged, his pension entitlement was reviewed, and he was awarded an increase in his weekly rate, with effect from 28 January 2009.
280. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when arrears of carer’s allowance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15751/11]
Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The application for carer’s allowance from the person concerned was received on the 17 January 2011. He was awarded carer’s allowance at the weekly personal rate of €204.00 from the 20 January 2011. He was notified of this decision. The arrears, less the amount paid in respect of another social welfare payment pending the decision to award carer’s allowance, will issue to the person concerned in due course.
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