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Waiting times for social welfare claims unacceptable – Doherty

3 May, 2013 - by Pearse Doherty TD


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said waiting times for processing social welfare claims is unacceptably high.

Deputy Doherty today revealed details of waiting times for social welfare applications and appeals.

He said;

“What is clear from the details provided to me by the Department is that waiting times are unacceptably high.

“Since this government took office some of the waiting times have actually got worse. Since June 2011 the waiting time for carers allowance has doubled from 17 weeks to 34 while for the disability allowance it has has increased from 17 to 23 weeks.

“The average waiting time for an appeal is 28 weeks.

“These are people who are entitled to these payments. They are dependent on the safety net of the state and they are being failed.

“If this was TDs or Senators who were being made to wait such a long time for payments you can be sure it would be sorted out very quickly.”

ENDS

Question No: 125 Ref No: 21013-13

To the Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide in tabular form the current waiting times per social welfare payment for the processing of applications by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
- Pearse Doherty.

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 2nd May, 2013.


R E P L Y

Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):
The average number of weeks to award claims from the date of application is the main statistic collated by my Department to measure waiting times for the processing of applications for Social Welfare payments. I have attached for the Deputy’s information a tabular statement detailing the average number of weeks to award claims, where available, for schemes under the auspices of my Department for claims processed in March 2013. There have been significant reductions in backlogs in the past year for family income supplement, carer’s allowance, disability allowance and invalidity pension which will feed into processing times for these schemes in the coming months.
Tabular table attached/……
Average Time to awards claims for Social Welfare Payments
Claims processed in March 2013
Scheme Average Number of Weeks to Award Claim
Jobseekers Benefit
2
Jobseekers Allowance
4
One-Parent Family Payment
13
State Pension Contributory (Domestic)
4
State Pension Transition (Domestic)
6
Widow’s, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension
2
State Pension Non-Contributory
14
Widow’s, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension 6
Household Benefits
2
Free Travel
2
Domiciliary Care Allowance 7
Supplementary Welfare Allowance 1
Bereavement Grant - Sligo
1
Child Benefit (Domestic & Formerly Resident Abroad)
3
Child Benefit (EU Regulation)
31
Family Income Supplement (New Claims)
14
Family Income Supplement (Renewals) 11
Carer's Allowance
34
Disability Allowance
23
Invalidity Pension
60
Bereavement Grant - Longford
3
Illness Benefit 1


Question No: 126 Ref No: 21014-13
To the Minister for Social Protection
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide in tabular form the current waiting times per social welfare payment for the processing of appeals by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. - Pearse Doherty.


* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 2nd May, 2013.
R E P L Y
Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):
The current average processing times for appeals of social welfare payments are set out in the attached Table.
These processing times are calculated from the registration date of an appeal to the date of its finalisation. They include all activities during this period, including time spent in the Department for comment by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant, and any further investigation, examination or assessment by the Department’s Inspectors and Medical Assessors that is deemed necessary. A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process. Generally the vast majority of cases fall within average processing times but extenuating factors, which are often outside of the control of the Social Welfare Appeals Office, can cause greater delays in some cases.
Processing times of all appeal types reduced by 10.3 weeks overall in 2012 with respect to 2011, with time for an oral hearing time down by 13 weeks and the time for summary decision up by 2.7 weeks.
Because of its quasi-judicial nature, the processing of appeals takes time and reflects the fact that, by definition, the appeal process cannot be a quick one.
ENDS


Table: Appeals processing times by scheme January - March 2013 – Summary and Oral


Scheme Average processing times (weeks)
Summary Decisions Average processing
times (weeks)
Oral Hearings
Blind Pension 26.5 -
Carers Allowance 30.7 39.5
Carers Benefit 26.0 29.0
Child Benefit 31.0 47.4
Disability Allowance 37.3 42.7
Illness Benefit 42.1 48.1
Domiciliary Care 31.9 39.2
Deserted Wives Benefit 34.0 38.6
Farm Assist 23.2 31.5
Bereavement Grant 32.8 -
Family Income Supplement 29.4 44.0
Invalidity Pension 34.0 46.5
Liable Relatives 32.8 42.9
One Parent Family Payment 32.7 38.8
Maternity Benefit 30.8 51.4
Partial Capacity Benefit 20.7 -
State Pension (Contributory) 25.6 34.3
State Pension (Non-Cont) 31.9 45.9
State Pension (Transition) 21.7 39.6
Occupational Injury Benefit 39.9 59.4
Disablement Pension 35.5 39.7
Incapacity Supplement - 42.1
Guardian's Payment (Con) 20.0 36.1
Guardian's Payment (Non-con) 45.5 46.6
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means) 22.0 33.8
Jobseeker's Allowance 21.5 28.5
Jobseeker's Benefit 23.7 31.8
UAUBFC - 14.2
Respite Care Grant 26.8 32.4
Insurability of Employment 23.1 59.4
Supplementary Welfare Allowance 16.8 28.0
Treatment Benefits 32.0 -
Survivor's Pension (Con) 30.8 40.6
Survivor's Pension (Non-Con) 37.5 41.4
Widows Parent Grant 34.2 -
All Appeals 28.2 38.6

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