Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Social Welfare Appeals
Question 870: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will be made regarding a disability allowance appeal application in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38675/09]
The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in the case. The person concerned will be notified when the necessary arrangements have been made.
As regards waiting times, I am advised that the average time taken in 2008 to process all appeals (i.e. those decided summarily and by way of oral hearing) was 22 weeks. However, if allowance is made for the 25% most protracted cases, the average time fell to just over 14 weeks. Those average processing times replicate those for 2007 notwithstanding the fact there was an increase of 27% in the number of appeals received during 2008.
There has been an increase of 41% in the number of appeals received so far this year compared to last year and, having regard to the current volume of appeals awaiting determination, two additional Appeals Officers were appointed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office earlier this year. Furthermore, I am advised that the Chief Appeals Officer is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals having regard to due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.