Written answers

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

Photo of John BrassilJohn Brassil (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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217. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average wait time for new applications, reviews and appeals, respectively for all social welfare payments in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10121/19]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The average time to award new claims, broken down by social welfare scheme, is detailed in Table 1.

The average appeal processing times for all appeals determined in 2018, broken down by social welfare scheme, is detailed in Table 2.

I note that the Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

All claim decisions taken by the Department’s Deciding Officers and Designated Persons are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer. In any year approximately 85% of all claims are awarded by the Department and 1% are appealed.

The time taken to process an appeal reflects a number of factors including that the appeals process is a quasi-judicial process with appeals officers being required to decide all appeals on a ‘de-novo’ basis. In addition, appeals decisions are themselves subject to review by the High Court and decisions have to be formally written up to quasi-judicial standards.

Significant efforts and resources have been devoted to reforming the appeal process in recent years. Appeal processing times in respect of all schemes improved between 2011 and 2017 from 52.5 weeks for an oral hearing in 2011 to 26.4 weeks in 2017 and from 25.1 weeks for a summary decision in 2011 to 19.8 weeks in 2017. The corresponding processing times for the 2018 are 30 weeks for an oral hearing and 24.8 weeks for a summary decision.

The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that appeal processing times continue to be a priority for her Office. Further steps are being taken to address these processing times by deploying additional resources to the Appeals Office.

However, the complexity of the appeals process means takes some time for new staff to be trained up and develop expertise.

Where a claimant has been refused a social welfare payment, regardless of the scheme involved, and is appealing that decision, if their means are insufficient to meet their needs it is open to them to apply for supplementary welfare allowance in the interim.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tabular statement attached/.......

Table 1: Social Welfare claims by average waiting times 31 January 2019

SchemeAverage Waiting time(weeks)
Jobseeker's Benefit1
Jobseeker's Allowance1
One-Parent Family Payment5
State Pension Contributory 9
Widow’s, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension2
State Pension Non-Contributory11
Household Benefits1
Free Travel2
Domiciliary Care Allowance11
Supplementary Welfare Allowance1
Child Benefit (Domestic & FRA)3
Maternity Benefit6
Paternity Benefit6
Working Family Payment7
Carer's Allowance16
Carer’s Benefit12
Disability Allowance14
Invalidity Pension7

Table 2: Appeal Processing Times by Scheme 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018

-Average processing times (weeks)Summary DecisionsAverage processing times (weeks)Oral Hearings
Blind Person’s Pension33.727.7
Carer’s Allowance24.328.4
Carer’s Benefit22.225.6
Child Benefit 36.142.7
Disability Allowance17.123.8
Illness Benefit30.736.5
Partial Capacity Benefit32.632.8
Domiciliary Care Allowance31.636.2
Deserted Wife’s Allowance70.6-
Deserted Wife’s Benefit28.769.1
Farm Assist44.047.8
Bereavement Grant36.1-
Death Benefit (Pension)31.5-
Working Family Payment29.440.1
Invalidity Pension24.730.2
Liable Relatives44.030.7
Maternity Benefit30.430.7
Paternity Benefit32.723.0
One Parent Family Payment31.737.0
State Pension (Contributory)39.950.2
State Pension (Non-Contributory)32.243.0
Occupational Injury Benefit36.050.7
Disablement Pension34.334.6
OIB-Medical Care17.5-
Incapacity Supplement38.729.7
Guardian's Payment (Contributory)29.828.9
Guardian's Payment (Non-Con)25.529.6
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)31.936.8
Jobseeker's Allowance (Payments)25.231.4
BTW Family Dividend30.8-
Jobseeker's Transitional30.128.5
Recoverable Benefits & Assistance34.9-
Pre-Retirement Allowance64.029.9
Jobseeker's Benefit25.128.5
Insurability of Employment53.063.9
Supplementary Welfare Allowance20.729.1
Widow/Widower's Pension (Contributory)35.032.8
Widow/Widower's Pension (Non-Contributory)28.425.7
Widowed Parent Grant45.143.7
All Appeals24.830.0


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