Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
1148. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to change the qualification criteria for the telephone allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3072/20]
The Telephone Support Allowance (TSA) is a weekly payment of €2.50. Approximately 131,000 customers are in receipt of the TSA payment. The estimated full year cost of the scheme is over €17 million.
To receive the allowance a customer of my Department must be in receipt of a qualifying payment and also in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance.
The primary objective of the TSA is to allow the most vulnerable people at risk of isolation, including the elderly and those with disabilities, access to personal alarms or phones for security. Therefore the criteria for the allowance were framed in order to direct the limited resources available to my Department in as targeted a manner as possible.
The schemes operated by my Department are constantly reviewed. Any decision to change their qualifying criteria would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
1149. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a person (details supplied) can transfer from jobseeker's allowance to maternity benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3083/20]
Maternity benefit is payable when a woman on maternity leave from work has the required number of paid PRSI contributions/credits on their social insurance record and has paid a class A contribution within 16 weeks of the end of the week in which their baby is due. The three most recent complete calendar years are considered along with the current year when determining eligibility to maternity benefit. According to the record held in the Department, the person concerned is not currently in employment and does not have sufficient PRSI contributions/credits in these years to qualify for the benefit.
I am advised that there is no record of a Maternity Benefit application having been received from the person concerned. If the personal would like to have her particular case reviewed in more detail, she can submit an application. However, based on the information to hand, I am advised that it is unlikely that she will qualify for the benefit.
It should be noted that she may be entitled to continue to receive jobseekers allowance during her period of confinement and after the birth of her baby. Information in relation to this will be available at her local Intreo centre.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.