Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 14 June, 2005

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

  436. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will review the rate of rent allowance being awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny which was substantially reduced recently. [19284/05]

  Mr. Brennan:Half of any maintenance a lone parent receives can be disregarded as means for the purposes of assessing his or her entitlement to one-parent family payment. The means test for this and certain other social assistance schemes also provides for a disregard of up to €95.23 per week of maintenance payments in instances where applicants have rent or mortgage interest obligations on their family homes. This means that the first €95.23 of maintenance per week is regarded as going towards meeting housing costs and is not regarded as income in the means test for one-parent family payment. For the same reason, rent in respect of which rent supplement is claimed is the net amount of rent due after tak[1747] ing into account the fact that the first €95.23 of maintenance is regarded as going towards housing costs.

Depending on the particular family housing cost, up to €60 per week of maintenance in excess of the €95.23 sum can be disregarded for rent supplement means assessment purposes, to ensure that the family has the benefit of the extra maintenance income up to that level before it affects their rent supplement entitlements.

The southern area of the Health Service Executive has advised that, in the course of a routine review of this case, it became aware that the person concerned is in receipt of family maintenance income of €120 per week in addition to a one-parent family payment from my Department. On this basis, the executive has determined that the amount of rent supplement payable to the person concerned will be reduced to €49.80 with effect from 20 June 2005. The executive has informed the person concerned of the revised entitlement and of the right of appeal against this decision.

  437. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons who availed of the constant care allowance for each of the past three years and in 2005 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19390/05]

  438. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons who availed of the disablement pension for each of the [1748] past three years and in 2005 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19391/05]

  Mr. Brennan:I propose to take Questions Nos. 437 and 438 together.

Disablement benefit is payable under the occupational injuries scheme to an insured person who suffers a loss of physical or mental faculty as a result of an occupational accident or a prescribed disease. The person must have been in insurable, occupational injuries, employment at the time the accident happened or the disease was contracted.

Constant attendance allowance is payable as an increase to disablement benefit where the person concerned is in need of full-time care and attention. It is paid directly to the person being cared for and is not payable concurrently with carer’s allowance or carer’s benefit. However, the annual respite care grant is payable in these cases to the person who is providing the required full time care attention. Unemployability supplement may be paid as an income support increase to disablement benefit where the person concerned is incapable of work, but where that person does not have the qualifying PRSI contributions for disability benefit or invalidity pension.

Disablement benefit is payable by pension or by gratuity depending on the degree of disablement assessed. The figures pertaining to payments made in the last three years and 2005 to date are shown in the following table. Figures for constant attendance allowance are also shown.

2002

2003

2004

2005

Pensions Awarded

822

695

592

243

Life Gratuity

279

268

300

130

Pensions in Payment

11,612

11,898

12,167

12,201

Provisional Gratuities in Payment

792

751

781

771

Unemployability Supplement in Payment

897

897

905

912

Constant Attendance Allowance in Payment

65

65

71

7

  439. Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the assistance which will be offered to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 in regard to the bereavement grant and other social welfare assistance. [19439/05]

  Mr. Brennan:The person concerned applied for a bereavement grant on 20 May 2005 in respect of her late son who had been in receipt of disability allowance. While a six-weeks-after-death payment has been made to the person concerned, bereavement grant is not payable in this case as the PRSI contribution conditions are not satisfied. She was informed of this decision on 31 May 2005.

In instances where there are insufficient PRSI contributions to qualify for the grant, a person may receive assistance under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. Under this arrangement, the Health Service Executive may make a payment to help meet once-off expenditure, for example, in respect of funeral expenses. The person concerned has been advised that assistance may be available via her local community welfare officer.

With regard to her own entitlement to a social assistance payment, she is currently in receipt of basic supplementary welfare allowance from her community welfare officer. She should contact her local social welfare office to examine her potential eligibility for any other benefit or allowance. Under social welfare legislation, decisions in regard 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.

  440. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has been approved for the free [1749] schemes, in particular for the lifetime television licence. [19445/05]

  Mr. Brennan:The person concerned was awarded the electricity allowance from 1 January 1997 and a free television licence from his next renewal licence after that date. He was also awarded a telephone allowance from 10 September 1997. According to An Post’s records, the person concerned was issued with a free lifetime television licence in December 2004 when his current licence expired.

  441. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved for the free schemes. [19446/05]

  Mr. Brennan:The person concerned has been awarded the household benefits package with effect from 28 May 2005. This entitles him to electricity and telephone allowances from that date. He is also entitled to a free lifetime television licence from his next licence renewal date. The ESB and Eircom will be notified shortly to apply the allowances to his accounts.

  442. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the funding available to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare to pay the rent to accommodate her family; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19465/05]

  Mr. Brennan:The means test for supplementary welfare allowance, through which rent supplements are provided, requires that all types of household income, including maintenance payments for a lone parent and his or her children, must be taken into account in determining a person’s entitlements under the scheme. Up to €95.23 per week of maintenance payments can be disregarded in the means test for one-parent family payment purposes to allow for housing costs. Equally, in the means test for rent supplement, maintenance income up to this weekly amount is regarded as having gone to meet housing needs and, consequently, the rent in respect of which rent supplement is paid is the net amount after maintenance.

The Dublin and mid-Leinster area of the Health Service Executive has advised that, following a review of this case, it became aware that the person concerned is in receipt of maintenance payments of €70 per week in addition to her one-parent family payment from my Department. This €70 is regarded as being entirely for housing costs and, accordingly, the rent in respect of which rent supplement is claimed is the actual rent less €70.

Departmental records show the person concerned is in receipt of child benefit for three children but has yet to claim an increase in her one-parent family payment in respect of her third [1750] child. She should apply to my Department for the appropriate increase in this payment. In the event that she qualifies for that increase, her rent supplement entitlement will be reviewed further by the executive.

  443. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is not being awarded rent subsidy; if attendance at a FÁS course is affecting the subsidy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19466/05]

  Mr. Brennan:Rent supplements are provided through the supplementary welfare allowance scheme which is administered on my behalf by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive. Payment of rent supplement is subject to a means test.

The Dublin and mid-Leinster area of the executive has advised that during a recent routine review of this case, it came to light that in addition to her one-parent family payment, the person concerned has also been in receipt of income from a FÁS course since July 2004. The level of her household income is now such that she is deemed to have sufficient funds to provide for her accommodation costs and, accordingly, she does not qualify for continued payment of rent supplement.

In addition, the non-disclosure by the person concerned of her additional income has given rise to a significant overpayment of rent supplement. The executive will contact her shortly to confirm the amount of the overpayment and to make arrangements for her to repay the amount due.