Criticism over 60,000 letters issued to Pensioners over their entitlement - John Brady TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has criticised Minister Doherty and her Department over letters issued by them to over 60,000 State Pensioners regarding their entitlement.
The letters are being sent to 60,635 people in receipt of a Qualified Adult Increase on their State Pension Contributory payment as part of a review being carried out by the Department. This increase is paid in respect of a pensioner’s spouse/civil partner/co-habitant where they meet the necessary means tested criteria.
Speaking having raised the issue in the Dáil today, Teachta Brady said:
“Last week I was contacted by an elderly gentleman terrified about losing the increase he currently receives as part of his State Pension in respect of his wife through the Qualified Adult payment.
“He, along with over 60,000 older people, are receiving letters from the Department’s Control Unit asking them to confirm that the information they gave the Department was truthful by signing a declaration. This must be returned to the relevant Section within 21 days.
“The declaration also states that the undersigned understands that if they provide misleading or untruthful information, they will be required to repay this or be prosecuted.
“On raising this letter with the Department, they insisted in their correspondence to me that 'flexibility can be provided if there is difficulty in replying within the requested timeframe.' Unfortunately, this is a reassurance they failed to give to the pensioners receiving the letter.
“These letters should have included an absolute assurance to the persons receiving it that there would be flexibility for them, if they needed it. They also should have included the rationale as to why these letters were being issued in the first place.
“This is not the first time that the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection have been criticised for the manner in which they communicate with recipients of social welfare supports. They need to learn how to do this better.”