Written answers

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Disabilities Assessments

Photo of Claire KerraneClaire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
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562. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the processes that are in place for assessing chronic pain associated with medical conditions such as fibromyalgia with regard to disability supports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10059/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Assessments of medical eligibility for Disability Allowance (DA) are based on medical reports and other evidence furnished by the applicant and the applicant’s treating physician.

Under Social Welfare legislation , it is a deciding officer (DO) who decides upon any and all questions in relation to a person’s eligibility for DEASP schemes, including DA. In arriving at his or her decision, a DO will review all evidence available to him or her, including that provided by the person’s own doctor. He or she will also have regard to the opinion of the Department’s medical assessor (MA). The Department’s MAs are fully qualified medical practitioners who have experience and specialist training/qualifications in occupational medicine as well as in human disability evaluation. The MA’s assessment and resulting opinion given to the DO is made in accordance with the Department's evidence-based medical guidelines and protocols. These guidelines/protocols are available for viewing on the Department’s website.

It is important to note that the DO is not disputing the person’s diagnosis or treatment but rather is assessing the person’s eligibility for the relevant scheme in accordance with the relevant statutory conditions. Each DO is trained in the principles of decision making and natural Justice. Scheme guidelines are provided to ensure consistency and a standardised approach in decision making. Each DO is familiar with the legal basis for making their decision and comply within these provisions. They act impartially and make decisions based on supporting documentation. If the customer in question is unhappy with this decision she may submit an appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


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