Thursday, 30 May 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times
29. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the processing times for carer's allowance and carer's benefit applications; the reason for the backlog of applications; her plans to address same; if additional staff will be allocated in order to clear same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22790/19]
My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.
Currently the average time taken to process new carer’s allowance (CA) applications is 12 weeks and the average time taken to process new carer’s benefit (CARB) applications is 11 weeks.
In general, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process. For example, before a decision can be made on entitlement to CA, evidence must be provided in respect of the carer’s habitual residence in the State, the level of care they provide, their means and also that the person being cared for has such a disability that they require full-time care and attention.
It is also the case that in order to register their claim and establish an early entitlement or claim date many people submit a claim without first securing all of the necessary supporting documentation. While this does ensure that people will be paid with arrears from an early "effective" date it does mean that claims take longer to process.
I wish to reassure you that claim processing is kept under active review, with all possible steps taken to improve processing times. This includes the temporary assignment of additional resources and the review of business processes, to ensure the efficient processing of applications. These steps have resulted in a significant reduction in the number of carers claims awaiting decision and the processing time continues to improve from an average of 17 weeks at the end of December 2018 to an average of 12 weeks currently. It is intended that the current review of business processes will identify opportunities to implement further improvements and efficiencies.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.