Social Welfare processing chaos unacceptable – Ó Snodaigh
February 20, 2013
Speaking today, after the Joint Committee on Social Protection heard stark figures from Social Welfare Appeals Office of the length of time social welfare applicants are waiting for their appeals to be assessed Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said;
“The delays are unacceptable and need to be addressed immediately. Of the 37 social welfare schemes under which appeals are made, 23 have an average waiting time of over 40 weeks, and appeals in nine schemes are awaiting oral hearing decisions for over a year.
“This is a living disgrace and it is adding to the distress of many of families who are now dependant on social welfare payments, full or partial payments which are being denied them.
“Much of the problem is with the initial assessment of the applications for a social welfare payment. This is shown blatantly by the fact that a high percentage of those refused welfare have had successful appeals. For example, in the case of invalidity pension 76% of appeals are granted in full or partially, or in the case of disability allowance 57% are successful and 60% for appeals of carers’ benefit/allowances or domiciliary care allowance.
“Today’s figure show that the initial assessment in local social welfare offices is wrong in over 50% of cases appealed. That has to change immediately for benefit of all.”
“While I welcome the commitment to prioritise supplementary welfare allowance appeals the five month delay is not good enough given that the applicants have no other form of income.
“The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, needs to ensure greater care is taken by social welfare inspectors at the initial application stage, because the incorrect or rushed decisions are causing months of stress and hardship for people who are totally dependent on the payment they have applied for. Failure to act is leaving many families in dire straits, destitute and distressed.”