Thursday, 28 February 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times
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]
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
|Scheme||Average Waiting time(weeks)|
|One-Parent Family Payment||5|
|State Pension Contributory||9|
|Widow’s, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension||2|
|State Pension Non-Contributory||11|
|Domiciliary Care Allowance||11|
|Supplementary Welfare Allowance||1|
|Child Benefit (Domestic & FRA)||3|
|Working Family Payment||7|
Table 2: Appeal Processing Times by Scheme 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018
|-||Average processing times (weeks)Summary Decisions||Average processing times (weeks)Oral Hearings|
|Blind Person’s Pension||33.7||27.7|
|Partial Capacity Benefit||32.6||32.8|
|Domiciliary Care Allowance||31.6||36.2|
|Deserted Wife’s Allowance||70.6||-|
|Deserted Wife’s Benefit||28.7||69.1|
|Death Benefit (Pension)||31.5||-|
|Working Family Payment||29.4||40.1|
|One Parent Family Payment||31.7||37.0|
|State Pension (Contributory)||39.9||50.2|
|State Pension (Non-Contributory)||32.2||43.0|
|Occupational Injury Benefit||36.0||50.7|
|Guardian's Payment (Contributory)||29.8||28.9|
|Guardian's Payment (Non-Con)||25.5||29.6|
|Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)||31.9||36.8|
|Jobseeker's Allowance (Payments)||25.2||31.4|
|BTW Family Dividend||30.8||-|
|Recoverable Benefits & Assistance||34.9||-|
|Insurability of Employment||53.0||63.9|
|Supplementary Welfare Allowance||20.7||29.1|
|Widow/Widower's Pension (Contributory)||35.0||32.8|
|Widow/Widower's Pension (Non-Contributory)||28.4||25.7|
|Widowed Parent Grant||45.1||43.7|