Tuesday, 9 October 2018
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Illness Benefit Payments
479. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of payments in respect of illness benefit recipients; the number of outstanding payments since the change to claim forms was introduced; if she is satisfied with the level of engagement and information provided to recipients during this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40746/18]
In August 2018, my Department introduced a new claim form and medical certificate to replace the previous forms used for certification of the Department’s Illness and Injury Benefit schemes. This change is part of a programme of modernisation in the Department.
Some GPs have continued to use the old forms after this changeover date. In order to facilitate the continued payment of Illness and Injury Benefits to our customers, the Department has, to date, continued to accept the old forms. While their continued use has caused delays to our processing times, my Department is doing everything possible to ensure that customers are paid as quickly as possible.
In this context, the Deputy should note that additional resources have been assigned to the Illness Benefit Unit to help clear any backlogs. There is currently a 2 day delay to claims received on old forms. There is no backlog in payments in respect of claims and certificates received in the new format.
The Department has a contract with GPs on the DEASP panel in respect of medical certification for illness and injury benefit and wrote to just under 3,500 contracting GPs in July 2018, setting out the changes involved and will continue to communicate with all panel holders as the new process beds in.
In addition, the Department consulted with the Irish Medical Organization (IMO) - a longstanding representative body with a broad range of GPs in its membership. The Department will continue to consult with the IMO under our Framework Agreement on a range of issues including e-certification, closed certification and changes to forms. The IMO is the body that is recognised as holding the representative rights for GPs.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.