Thursday, 30 May 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits Reviews
25. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will make specific provision in order to ensure that persons whose welfare payments come under periodic review do not suffer a loss of another vital payment such as rent support or carer's allowance until such time that a final decision has been made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23014/19]
Basic weekly supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) may be paid to customers awaiting the outcome of a claim or an appeal for a primary social welfare payment. In certain circumstances, if a person is not eligible for other social welfare payments and their weekly income is below the SWA rate for their family size, a payment may be made to bring their income up to the appropriate SWA rate. The Community Welfare Service (CWS) officer will engage with a claimant to establish eligibility as quickly as possible and limit any delay to payments. If there is a specific risk of homelessness, this should be communicated to the CWS officer at the earliest opportunity.
Staff in the Department are engaged with customers throughout the entire lifecycle of their claim, including on regular reviews for all schemes on an ongoing basis. A person’s entitlement to a social welfare payment is reviewed on a continuing basis to ensure that they continue to satisfy the conditions of the scheme. A person’s means may also be reviewed from time to time. A customer may also request a review of their means in the light of changed circumstances at any time.
Review decisions are not delayed unnecessarily once all the information requested from the customer at the time of review is made available to my Department. Payments are not suspended unless there is a valid reason for doing so, for example the provision of insufficient information by the customer in response to a query, or no reply from the customer. Undue hardship for customers should not arise if there is ongoing co-operation from the customer with the Deciding Officer / Designated Person in my Department.
Continued entitlement to a rent supplement payment from the Department is not linked to entitlement to other social welfare schemes. However, the rent supplement claim may be reviewed following a decision to suspend or disallow a primary social welfare payment as there may be a change to the claimant’s circumstances that could affect eligibility. During a review of a rent supplement claim, the CWS officers will engage with a claimant to establish continued eligibility as quickly as possible and limit any delay to payments.
Any person in this situation is encouraged to contact the Department’s CWS office responsible for their rent supplement claim to discuss their circumstances. Any persons who consider that they have an entitlement to a basic weekly SWA payment should contact the CWS at their local Intreo centre.
If the Deputy has concerns in respect of a particular case, he should bring the details to the attention of the Department and my officials will follow up on them.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.