Figures obtained by Sinn Féin demonstrate that Invalidity Pension applications are now being refused at a rate of 87%. Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh said this is the highest refusal rate he has ever seen on any social welfare scheme.
"According to figures provided by the Department to Sinn Féin the average refusal rate on applications for Invalidity Pension was 87% between January and July of 2012. These are the latest figures available and they represent a rise of 17% from the refusal rate reported by the Minister on the 1st of March.
"In all my years as a TD, I don't think I've ever seen a refusal rate as high as this. This trend is very worrying and follows concerns expressed by the Ombudsman earlier in the summer that the Department is increasingly using its discretion to refuse access to welfare supports that were awarded to individuals in the past. I also put these concerns to the Minister last July but she dismissed them out of hand and refused to take any action whatsoever.
"The number of applications for Invalidity Pension has almost doubled between 2009 and 2011 and I think this is a further worrying indication of the additional difficulties experienced by those with disabilities who are attempting to access work in the current climate. Employers who may have made some investment in accommodation of disabilities in the past are increasingly reluctant to do so which leaves those with disabilities at a double disadvantage during this recession. Urgent action from government is needed to address this."