Written answers

Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Appeals

Photo of Seán HaugheySeán Haughey (Dublin Bay North, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

109. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is aware of the backlog of cases at the social welfare appeals office where appellants are being told that this office is currently working through submissions received from mid-February 2024; if she will take appropriate measures including staff changes to alleviate this backlog; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23088/24]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an Office of the Department of Social Protection which is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements. Appeals Officers are independent in their decision making functions.

The desire to process appeals quickly has to be balanced with the competing demand to ensure that decisions are consistent and of high quality and made in accordance with the legislative provisions and the general principles of fair procedures and natural justice.

All claim decisions taken by the Department’s Deciding Officers and Designated Persons are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer. The Department endeavours to ensure that these cases are dealt with as quickly as possible. There is active engagement between the Appeals Office and the Department to ensure that the appeals process operates efficiently and that where the Deciding Officer's decision is not revised in favour of the appellant that the appeal file is provided as quickly as possible to the Appeals Office for consideration by an Appeals Officer.

Significant efforts and resources have been devoted to reforming the appeal process in recent years. An Appeals Modernisation Project is currently underway the goal of which is to streamline and enhance the end-to-end appeals process for the customer, the Social Welfare Appeals Office and business areas across the Department.

As part of this project a new IT system went live in November 2023. The new system has significantly reduced the time taken to register and acknowledge appeals lodged with the Appeals Office and in time will reduce the overall average processing times. Additional staff are being temporarily assigned to the office to assist with the registration of outstanding appeals. Further improvements in appeals processing times are a priority for the Chief Appeals Officer.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.