Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Schemes Administration

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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To ask the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications on hand, under each social welfare scheme, that have not been decided and were made more than three months ago;, the reason for the delay in processing applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57749/12]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Department is committed to ensuring that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible. Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Schemes that require a high level of documentary evidence from the customer, particularly in the case of illness-related schemes, can take longer to process. Similarly, means-tested payments can also require more detailed investigation and interaction with the applicant, thereby lengthening the decision making process. Delays can also arise if information is required from social security organisations in other jurisdictions and where additional information has been requested from the applicant but remains outstanding. For example, pension claims on hand for more than three months typically occur in the case of EU/bilateral pensions where information from other jurisdictions is awaited or, in the case of self-employed, there may be outstanding PRSI liabilities. This delay also impacts on household benefits in many cases as they are linked to when the pension is awarded.

As part of the Department’s programme of service delivery modernisation, a range of initiatives aimed at streamlining the processing of claims, supported by modern technology, have been implemented in recent years. Operational processes, procedures and the organisation of work are continually reviewed to ensure that processing capability is maximised.

In addition, the staffing needs of the Department are regularly reviewed, having regard to workloads and the competing demands arising, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources. The Department will continue to source available staff to fill critical vacancies by way of redeployment, or transfer from within the Department and other

Government Departments, taking account of the employment control framework (ECF) target, as determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

I wish to assure the Deputy that prompt processing of claims remains a priority for me.

Table: Applications pending longer than 3 months:

SchemeApplications awaiting decision
State Pension (contributory) 1,095
State Pension (transition) 952
State pension (non-contributory) 372
Widow(er)’s and surviving civil partner’s pension (contributory) 118
Widow(er)’s and surviving civil partner’s pension (non-contributory) pension & one parent family payment (widow)19
One parent family payment1,364
Household benefits1,086
Bereavement grant 649
Invalidity pension 2,255
Family income supplement - new claims4,965
Family income supplement - renewals941
Disability Allowance2,876
Carer’s Benefit20
Carer’s Allowance6,782
Jobseeker’s Benefit 643
Jobseeker’s Allowance3,408
Illness Benefit 0
Maternity Benefit 0
Child Benefit (domestic)0
Child Benefit (EC Regulation)Not readily available
Domiciliary Care Allowance89


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