Dáil Éireann - Volume 353 - 24 October, 1984

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

521. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social Welfare the number of appeals received by the Eastern Health Board against refusal of applications for [348] clothing grants in (a) 1983, and (b) to date in 1984.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): It is understood from the Eastern Health Board, which administers the supplementary welfare allowances scheme in its area, that the total number of appeals received by the board against decisions on entitlement to supplementary welfare allowance was (a) 761 in 1983 and (b) 1,460 to date in 1984. A breakdown of the various elements of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme to which the appeals relate is not at present available and it is not possible for this reason to give the information sought by the Deputy in relation to applications for assistance towards the purchase of clothing. The figures are however being analysed by the health board and as soon as the analysis has been completed the information sought by the Deputy will be forwarded to him.

Expenditure on the supplementary welfare allowance scheme in the Eastern Health Board area in 1983 was approximately £14.3 million and estimated expenditure in 1984 is £17.6 million.

522. Mr. J. Leonard asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a decision will be made on an unemployment assistance application of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned applied for unemployment assistance on 14 August 1984 and his case was referred to a social welfare officer for inquiries into his means. Extensive investigations are being made but it is expected that these inquiries will be completed shortly after which entitlement to unemployment assistance will be determined in the light of the means assessed against him.

523. Mr. Conaghan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a decision will be given on an unemployment assistance appeal of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal.

[349] Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned was assessed with means exceeding the statutory limit applicable to him. His means were derived from the profit from his share of a holding and from self-employment. He appealed against the amount of means assessed against him and an appeals officer on 12 October 1984, reduced his means to £28.80 weekly effective from 1 June 1984, derived from profit from his share of a holding.

He is accordingly entitled to unemployment assistance at £34.95 weekly from 1 June 1984 and £39.35 weekly from 4 July 1984 being the appropriate rate £68.15 less means £28.80. All arrears due to him will be paid this week and weekly payments of £39.35 will continue to be made as they become due.

524. Dr. McCarthy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason an invalidity pension has not been granted to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when it will be granted; and the amount that will be paid.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned has been in receipt of disability benefit since 21 July 1980 and payment is made at regular weekly intervals.

Invalidity pension is payable in place of disability benefit to insured persons who satisfy the contribution conditions and who are permanently incapable of work. Arrangements are being made to have him examined by a medical referee on 23 October 1984. His entitlement to invalidity pension will be reviewed in the light of the report of this examination.

525. Mr. Brown asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person in receipt of a widow's pension was not transferred to old age contributory pension on reaching 66 years of age.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The qualifying conditions for receipt of old age contributory pension [350] can only be satisfied on a person's own insurance record. For widow's contributory pension purposes the conditions can be satisfied on either the late husband's or the wife's own insurance record. It is on the basis of the former that the person concerned is in receipt of widow's contributory pension.

An explanatory leaflet outlining the contribution conditions for receipt of old age contributory pension was sent to her on 1 February 1984. If she considers that she has an entitlement to this pension she should submit an application form, which can be obtained at any post office, to the Department.

526. Mr. Noonan (Limerick West) asked the Minister for Social Welfare when an unmarried mother's allowance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): An allowance book with orders payable from 18 October 1984 was sent to the designated post office on that date for collection by the claimant, and she was notified accordingly. A payable order in respect of the arrears for the period 2 August 1984 to 17 October 1984, less the amount of supplementary welfare allowance which she received during that period from the Mid-Western Health Board, will be sent direct to her shortly.

527. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway is not in receipt of free telephone rental allowance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): There is no record in the Department of an application for a free telephone rental allowance from the person concerned. An application form was issued to him on 19 October 1984. On receipt of the completed application form in the Department, an early decision will be given in the case and the applicant will be notified of the outcome.

528. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister [351] for Social Welfare the reason unemployment assistance being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Galway has been reduced from £30.90 per week to £15.45 and then cancelled completely with no explanation.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned exhausted his title to unemployment benefit on 21 September 1984 when he received 390 days benefit. The payment of £15.45 represented the amount of unemployment benefit due in respect of the last three days of his claim.

He claimed unemployment assistance from 22 September 1984 and he was assessed with nil means and was accordingly entitled to unemployment assistance at £31.75 weekly being the appropriate rate payable to a long term recipient and the adjusting arrears due to him were paid with weekly payment on 11 October 1984. Further payments of unemployment assistance at £31.75 weekly continue to be made to him as they become due.

529. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the position with regard to an appeal from a person (details supplied) in County Galway against the decision to cancel his smallholders unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned appealed against the disallowance of his unemployment assistance claim and on the basis of contentions made by him in support of his appeal it was necessary to refer the case to a social welfare officer for further inquiries.

Arising from the investigation the person concerned has been asked to furnish evidence clarifying the sale of building sites over a number of years. He has not yet submitted the required documentation but when he does so his means will be assessed in the light of the outcome of the report on his case and his entitlement to unemployment assistance will be determined accordingly.

[352] 530. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the position with regard to an appeal from a person (details supplied) in County Galway against the decision to cancel his smallholders unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that his means derived from the profit from land exceeded the statutory limit.

He obtained an appeal application form at his local office but did not return it. A second appeal form issued on 2 July 1984 which he completed and returned and in the light of contentions made by him in support of his appeal his case was referred to a social welfare officer for further inquiries.

Inquiries are still being made in the case and when these are completed his case will be submitted to an appeals officer for determination and his entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

531. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the position with regard to an appeal from a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned appealed against the decision that his means exceeded the statutory limit and in the light of contentions made by him in support of his appeal his case was referred to a social welfare officer for further inquiries.

When the investigations are completed his case will be referred to an appeals officer for determination and his entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed on the basis of the means assessed against him by the appeals officer.

532. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the position with regard to an appeal from a person (details supplied) in County Galway against the [353] decision to reduce his unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): There is no record of an appeal having been received from the person concerned against the means assessment in his case. He is at present in receipt of unemployment assistance at the weekly rate of £21.45 being the appropriate rate payable £88.70 less means £67.25 derived from profit from his holding and self-employment as a plasterer.

533. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the position with regard to an appeal from a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned was in receipt of unemployment assistance during the years 1981, 1982 and 1983. Following an investigation of his case, unemployment assistance was disallowed in respect of certain periods on the grounds that he was concurrently working and claiming unemployment assistance and an overpayment was assessed against him. He has appealed against the disallowance and arrangements are being made to have his case determined by an appeals officer.

In the meantime he is in receipt of unemployment assistance at £26.75 being the appropriate long-term rate £31.75 less £5 deduction towards recovery of the amount overpaid to him.

534. Mr. Coughlan asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason in many cases single persons living with their family have means assessed against them for unemployment assistance purposes, thereby encouraging many of them to leave home in order to qualify for the full amount of unemployment assistance and whether he feels that the current means assessment policy in such cases is fair.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Under the legislation governing [354] the scheme of unemployment assistance the value of the benefit which an applicant derives from board and lodgings in his parents' home must be taken into account as means. The amount assessed for this purpose depends on the income of the parents in each individual case. This arrangement ensures that a degree of equity is achieved as between an applicant whose parents are in relatively better off circumstances and an applicant whose circumstances are poor.

The means test for unemployment assistance is designed to ensure that all applicants for unemployment assistance are treated in an equitable manner having regard to the resources available to them and as operated it is a fair and reasonable method of determining entitlement and allocating scarce resources to those in greatest need.

535. Mr. Coughlan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal will be called before a medical referee in connection with a transfer from disability benefit to invalidity pension.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned has been in receipt of disability benefit since 4 January 1983 and payment is made at regular weekly intervals. Invalidity pension is payable in place of disability benefit to insured persons who satisfy the contribution conditions and who are permanently incapable of work. Arrangements are being made to have him examined by a medical referee on 7 November 1984. His entitlement to invalidity pension will be reviewed in the light of the report of this examination.

536. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare when arrears of widow's pension will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): A payable order for the arrears in question was sent to the person [355] concerned on 28 August 1984. The payable order was cashed on 11 September 1984. If the person concerned did not receive the payable order she should inform the Department immediately.

537. Mr. Daly asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a decision will be made in the appeal for unemployment assistance of a person (details supplied) in County Clare.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that his means derived from the profit from land exceeded the statutory limit. He appealed against the assessment of his means and his case was referred to a social welfare officer for a reinvestigation of his means. When the inquiries are completed the assessment of his means will be reviewed and his entitlement to unemployment assistance will be determined accordingly.

538. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the present position with regard to an appeal from a person (details supplied) in County Galway against the decision to reduce his unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned was assessed with means at £40.35 weekly derived from the value of a share in the profit from his father's holding. He appealed against the amount of means assessed against him and an appeals officer also assessed his means at £40.35 weekly. He has been informed accordingly. He is at present in receipt of £31.90 weekly being the appropriate rate £72.25 less means £40.35.

539. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the present position with regard to an appeal from a person (details supplied) in County Galway against the decision to cancel his unemployment assistance.

[356] Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned is at present in receipt of unemployment assistance at £2.95 weekly being the appropriate rate payable to him £31.75 less means of £28.80. He has appealed against the amount of means assessed against him. Arising out of contentions made by him in support of his appeal it was necessary to refer his case back to a social welfare officer for further inquiries. When these inquiries are completed his case will be referred to an appeals officer for determination of his means and his rate of unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the appeals officer's decision.

540. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the present position with regard to a request for an increase in his unemployment assistance from a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned who is at present in receipt of unemployment assistance at £17.30 weekly applied for a review of his means and his case was referred to a social welfare officer for investigation.

Following the completion of inquiries the case was sent to a deciding officer at the Department's headquarters for a factual assessment of his means. It has now come to light that the case documents appear to have gone astray in postal transit as they were not received at headquarters.

Arrangements have been made to have the case again investigated after which his means will be assessed and his entitlement to unemployment assistance determined.

541. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the present position with regard to an appeal from a person (details supplied) in County Galway against the decision of his Department.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The unemployment assistance [357] claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that by failing to furnish details of his income he failed to show that his means did not exceed the statutory limit. He appealed against the disallowance of his claim and his case was referred again to a social welfare officer to provide him the opportunity to co-operate in the investigations and to reveal full details of his income. Inquiries continue to be made and when they are completed his case will be submitted to an appeals officer for determination and his entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

542. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will arrange to have a death grant paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny, in respect of her late husband, where the application has been made for some time and all details submitted to his Department.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): A claim for death grant was received from the person concerned on 21 September 1984 and payment was issued on 19 October 1984.

543. Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a children's allowance book will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): An allowance book payable from July 1984 has been issued direct to the claimant's home address.

544. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if an old age contributory pension application will be considered for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): It was decided on 29 May 1984 that the person concerned is not entitled [358] to an old age non-contributory pension on the grounds that her means were not fully disclosed. Inquiries from the social welfare officer to the claimant's solicitor and to the claimant herself were not replied to.

If the person concerned is now prepared to disclose fully details of her means, she should notify the Department to this effect and her case will be reinvestigated. In order to assist her in this regard an application form has been issued to her and if it is returned the matter will be reinvestigated and she will be notified of the outcome in due course.

545. Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason full pension and adult dependant allowance is not being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Clare for her seriously ill husband as the full application was made in October 1983.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): An application for an increase in pension was received in January 1984 from the pensioner's solicitor and following investigations regarding the transfer of a holding it was decided by the local pension committee on 31 May 1984 that she is entitled to maximum single rate old age pension from 6 January 1984. The appropriate pension book issued and the arrears of pension due issued separately.

An application for an adult dependant allowance received in February was unfortunately not processed at that time and this came to light recently. At that stage the matter was investigated and on 4 October 1984 it was decided that the pensioner is entitled to maximum rate pension plus an adult dependant allowance from 6 February 1984, date of original application. Her pension book has been recalled and as soon as it has been returned a pension book for £62.05 will issue without delay and a payable order covering the arrears of pension due since 6 February 1984 will issue separately. Any inconvenience caused to pensioner is regretted.

546. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for [359] Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will be awarded payment of unemployment benefit in view of the fact she has made every effort to find work unsuccessfully.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Entitlement to unemployment benefit is subject to the condition that a claimant must be available for work and to satisfy this condition she must be capable of, available for and genuinely seeking work. The unemployment benefit claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that she was not genuinely seeking work and accordingly she was not available for work. She appealed against the disallowance of her claim and attended an oral hearing of her case on 10 August 1984. The appeals officer also decided that she was not available for work. She continued to sign as unemployed at her local office and following inquiries in the case a deciding officer was satisfied that she fulfilled the condition of being available for work from 19 September 1984 and her claim was allowed at the maximum rate appropriate to her £32.75 weekly from that date. Arrangements have been made to pay all arrears due this week and further weekly payments will be made as they become due.

547. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will be forwarded an invalidity pension application and her application be considered favourably thereafter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned is being paid disability benefit at regular weekly intervals and payment has been made to date. A form on which to claim invalidity pension has been forwarded to him and on its return, duly completed, the claim will be dealt with without delay.

548. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will receive his [360] full entitlement of supplementary welfare allowance; and, if not, the reason.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): It is understood from the South-Eastern Health Board, which is responsible for the administration of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme in County Wexford, that the person concerned is in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance at the rate of £50 per week. The person concerned has appealed against the decision and the case is at present being considered by the appeals officer of the health board. Entitlement to a supplementary welfare allowance is, under the legislation, a matter to be determined by the health board having regard to all the circumstances of the case.

549. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social Welfare if persons must apply for the family income supplement before 31 October 1984, in order to have it backdated to 1 September; and, if so, the measures he is taking to advise the public of this.

550. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social Welfare if applications for payment of the family income supplement, received after 31 October 1984, will be paid from the date on which the applications were received by the Department.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): It is proposed to take Questions Nos. 549 and 550 together.

The time limit within which claims for family income supplement must be received in order to qualify for payment from the beginning of September 1984 is being extended to the end of November 1984. This aspect of the scheme will be fully explained in the forthcoming advertisements of the scheme.

551. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social Welfare the plans he has to promote the family income supplement in order to ensure that all those [361] families who are eligible are made aware of their entitlements.

552. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will list the national and provincial newspapers in which advertisements have been published promoting the family income supplement.

553. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social Welfare the total amount of money budgeted for advertising during October to promote the family income supplement.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): It is proposed to take Questions No. 551, 552 and 553 together.

Information leaflets outlining the Family Income Supplement Scheme are available at present in my Department's local offices, and also in community information centres which are registered with the National Social Services Board. My Department will be advertising the scheme extensively over the coming weeks. It is estimated that the total budget for the campaign will be of the order of £50,000.