Written answers

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Appeals

9:00 pm

Photo of Brian WalshBrian Walsh (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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Question 357: To ask the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a scope application appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9417/12]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case.

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Photo of Brian WalshBrian Walsh (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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Question 358: To ask the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a disability allowance appeal application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9420/12]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts. Following the submission of additional evidence the Appeals Officer has agreed to review the case. The person concerned will be contacted when the review of his appeal has been finalised.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Photo of Noel CoonanNoel Coonan (Tipperary North, Fine Gael)
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Question 359: To ask the Minister for Social Protection when an application for disability allowance appeal will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9457/12]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 19 November 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 12 January 2012 and the appeal will be assigned, in due course, to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Photo of Noel CoonanNoel Coonan (Tipperary North, Fine Gael)
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Question 361: To ask the Minister for Social Protection when an application for invalidity allowance will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9459/12]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 29 September 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 7 October 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 22 November 2011 who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Photo of Sandra McLellanSandra McLellan (Cork East, Sinn Fein)
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Question 362: To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will have files sent from the disability section to the appeals office immediately for an appeal that was lodged on 19 December 2011 in respect of a person (details supplied); her views that three months is an acceptable amount of time to have to wait for files to be sent from a department to the appeals office; when a decision will issue on the appeal of the person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9470/12]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The person concerned applied for disability allowance on 13 May 2011. The medical evidence supplied with his claim was referred to one of the department's medical assessors who was of the opinion, based on the information supplied, that the person was not medically suitable for disability allowance. The deciding officer accepted this opinion and the claim was refused and the person was notified in writing of this decision on 27 July 2011.

Further medical evidence received was referred to one of the Department's medical assessors who was also of the opinion, based on the information supplied, that the person was not medically suitable for disability allowance. The deciding officer accepted this opinion and the original decision to refuse the claim remained unchanged. The person was notified in writing of this outcome on 14 November 2011.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 19 December 2011. The Department was notified of this appeal on 22 December 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the deciding officer on the grounds of appeal be sought.

On 17 January 2012 the Department received further medical evidence from the appeals office which they had received on behalf of the person. As part of the person's appeals process, the Department referred all the medical evidence received in the case to another medical assessor for an appeal review. The medical assessor's opinion was received on 17 February 2012 and he is also of the opinion, based on all the information supplied, that the person is not medically suitable for disability allowance. The deciding officer will now give their comments and refer the file to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. When received, the appeal in question will be referred, in due course, to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Question 363: To ask the Minister for Social Protection the current position in respect of an outstanding appeal for child benefit in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; when a decision will be made in respect of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9497/12]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The initial claim for child benefit from the person concerned was disallowed on 14 December 2005 as she was not considered to be habitually resident. This decision was not appealed.

A second application was received on 15 March 2011 and was again disallowed on habitual residence grounds. The person concerned was notified of this decision on 29 September 2011 and she was advised of her right of appeal within twenty one days. As this decision was not appealed the case is now closed.

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