Dáil Éireann - Volume 338 - 03 November, 1982

Ceisteanna—Questions. Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

124. Mr. Begley asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason unemployment assistance is not being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned applied for a qualification certificate which is a pre-requisite for receipt of unemployment assistance at Limerick employment exchange on 5 February 1982. However, when the social welfare officer called to interview her in connection with her application she had left the address given by her on the application.

She made a second application at Killorglin branch employment office on 26 March 1982 and she was interviewed at her new address. She has been assessed with nil means from 5 February 1982 and with £1.30 a week from 26 March 1982 derived from the value of free board and lodgings on her parents' farm. Arrangements have been made to pay all arrears of assistance due to the claimant.

The delay in dealing with the matter arose from failure to associate the two claims which was necessary before a decision could be given.

125. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will arrange for the immediate payment of an old age pension to a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned, who has not yet reached pension age, has been awarded a widow's non-contributory pension with effect from Friday 30 April 1982 at a reduced rate appropriate to a [853] widow under 66 years with one qualified child, on the basis of her means assessed on the value of capital and an annuity. A pension book with orders payable from 1 October 1982 has been issued to the designated post office for collection by her and she has been notified accordingly. The arrears of pension due for the period from 30 April 1982 to 30 September 1982 will be paid shortly, direct to her by payable order.

126. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the present position regarding an application for an old age pension which was made by a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned has been awarded a non-contributory old age pension with effect from 25 March 1982 at the maximum rate applicable to persons aged 80 years and over. The appropriate pension order books have been issued following the appointment of an agent to receive and administer the pension on behalf of the claimant who is incapacitated.

127. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the present position regarding an application for an old age pension which was made by a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned who has not yet reached pension age has been awarded a widow's non-contributory pension with effect from Friday 30 April 1982 at a reduced rate appropriate to a widow under 66 years with one qualified child, on the basis of her means assessed on the value of capital and on annuity. A pension book with orders payable from 1 October 1982 has been issued to the designated post office for collection by her and she has been notified accordingly.

The arrears of pension due for the period from 30 April 1982 to 30 September 1982 will be paid shortly, direct to her by payable order.

[854] 128. Mr. Bellew asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the failure of his Department to pay disability benefit to a person (details supplied) in County Louth.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 14 September to 20 September 1982 after which date he was certified fit to resume work. A cheque for the amount of benefit due from 17 September, fourth day of incapacity, to 20 September 1982 was issued to the address as stated on the claim form on 12 October 1982.

On reviewing the claim it has come to light that the claimant was in receipt of unemployment benefit immediately prior to his disability benefit claim. In the circumstances he was entitled to payment from the commencement of his claim. A cheque for the arrears of benefit due from 14 to 16 September was issued on 29 October.

129. Mr. Bellew asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason his Department have not sanctioned optical benefit for a person (details supplied) in County Louth.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed optical benefit on 24 May 1982. She did not satisfy the qualifying contribution conditions for benefit under the RSI number quoted by her and inquiries were necessary regarding her contribution record. When these were completed it was established that she satisfied the contribution conditions and the claim was approved on 4 October.

The claimant was notified at that time and it has been verified from the optician that she has received the optical treatment sought by her.

130. Mr. Bellew asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason his Department will not accept medical evidence of epilepsy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth resulting in the non-payment of disability benefit to this person.

[855] Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 10 March 1980 and was paid to 21 August 1982 after which date payment was discontinued following examination by a medical referee of the Department who considered her capable of work. She appealed against the decision disallowing payment and in connection with her appeal she was again examined on 14 October 1982 by a medical referee who expressed the opinion that she was incapable of work. Payment of benefit has therefore been restored and all payment due from 22 August to 30 October 1982 was issued on 26 October.

The claimant was not at any stage certified as being incapable of work by reasons of epilepsy.

131. Mr. Bellew asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in paying disability benefit to a person (details supplied) in County Louth.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 8 July to 12 July 1980 and was paid at the maximum rate appropriate to a married man. He has not made any further claim to disability benefit since the latter date.

The claimant was interviewed by an inspector of my Department recently and he intimated that he is satisfied that he received the full amount of disability benefit due on his claim from 8 July to 12 July 1982.

132. Mr. Bellew asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the undue delay in having a person (details supplied) in County Louth re-examined by a referee doctor.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned was paid disability benefit from 31 October 1977 to 26 June 1982, after which date payment was discontinued following examination by a medical referee of the Department who expressed the opinion that he was not incapable of work.

The claimant appealed against the [856] decision to disallow his claim to benefit and on 6 October 1982 was examined by a different medical referee who expressed the opinion that he was incapable of work. Payment was restored from 28 June and all benefit due to 6 November 1982, less the amount of supplementary welfare allowance advanced by the North Eastern Health Board, was paid on 29 October 1982.

133. Mr. Bellew asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the undue delay in arriving at a decision on the payment of disability benefit to a person (details supplied) in County Louth.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): There is no record in my Department of a claim for disability benefit from the person concerned. As far as can be ascertained, she was never insurably employed in this country and would not therefore qualify for disability benefit. She did, however, make a claim for widow's pension which is under consideration. Several attempts were made by the Social Welfare officer to interview the claimant but she did not so far make herself available for interview despite being notified in advance. Continuing efforts are being made to investigate the claim and as soon as this has been done a decision will be given.

134. Mr. Bellew asked the Minister for Social Welfare when disability or occupational injuries benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Louth.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed injury benefit from 23 August 1982 in respect of an incapacity which he attributed to an accident at work on 5 March 1982. The employers, however, contend that he was not involved in an accident at work and the papers in the case have been referred to an outdoor officer of my Department for investigation. On receipt of the report of the investigation a decision will be given on the claim to injury benefit.

[857] Normally in such cases payment of disability benefit is made pending inquiries as to the nature and origin of the incapacity. This, however, was not possible in this case as, according to the records of my Department, the claimant has less than the required minimum of 26 contributions to his credit in 1980-81 and, therefore, does not satisfy the contribution conditions for the receipt of disability benefit.

135. Mr. Bellew asked the Minister for Social Welfare when disability benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Louth.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed injury benefit in respect of an incapacity which he attributed to an accident at work on 4 August 1982. Pending inquiries as to the nature and origin of the incapacity he was paid disability benefit on an interim basis from 9 August 1982.

On completion of the inquiries it was accepted that the incapacity was due to an accident at work and an adjusting payment representing injury benefit for the period 4 August 1982 to 26 October 1982, less the amount of disability benefit already paid, was made on 29 October 1982. Pay-related benefit is also in payment to the person concerned.

136. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare when he will return a pension book to an old age pensioner (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The old age pension book of the person concerned was returned on 30 September last and the Social Welfare officer, following a special visit to her, has confirmed that she is in possession of it.

137. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will pay full benefit and pay-related benefit to a person [858] (details supplied) in County Wexford who recently returned from Britain.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Under the provisions of EEC Regulations the person concerned was paid unemployment benefit by the British Department of Health and Social Security until 15 May 1982 when her entitlement became exhausted.

She was not entitled to unemployment benefit and pay-related benefit from my Department following that date as she did not satisfy the statutory contribution conditions on the basis of her Irish contribution record.

However, a claim for unemployment assistance was accepted from her and following the completion of inquiries her claim was allowed from 17 May 1982 at the weekly rate of £18.10 being the maximum rate payable to her £25.45 less means £7.35 derived from the value of capital. Weekly payments are being made to her as they become due.

The person concerned has appealed against the assessment of means and when inquiries in this connection are finalised her case will be referred to an appeals officer for determination. Her entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

138. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare when he will pay an old age pension to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The claim of the person concerned has been referred to the local pension committee with a recommendation that pension is not payable. The assessment of means, consisting of the letting value of a holding, the transfer of which was not accepted for pension purposes, exceeds the statutory limit of £38 a week.

If he is not satisfied with the committee's decision it will be open to him to appeal against it.

139. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare when he will pay an [859] old age pension to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The old age pension claim of the person concerned was disallowed by the local pension committee on 9 February 1982 on the grounds that his means, consisting of half the weekly value of a holding, profit from petrol pumps and capital exceed the statutory limit.

If there has been any change in his circumstances it is open to him to make a repeat claim for pension.

140. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare when he will pay unemployment assistance at the full rate to a small farmer (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned is presently in receipt of unemployment assistance at the weekly rate of £2.50 being the maximum rate payable to him, £50.50 less means of £48.00 with which he is assessed.

He has appealed against the assessment of his means and his case has been referred to an appeals officer for determination. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

141. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will ensure that an old age pension couple (details supplied) in County Wexford will receive an electricity supply with the help of the South Eastern Health Board.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): I understand from the South Eastern Health Board, which administers the supplementary welfare allowance scheme in Wexford, that it has made a contribution to the Electricity Supply Board towards the cost of installation of electricity in this case. I understand also that the connection will be made at an early date.

Meanwhile, the persons concerned are in receipt of an allowance for free bottled gas from my Department.

[860] 142. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will ensure that an old age pensioner (details supplied) in County Wexford will receive an electricity supply with the help of the South Eastern Board as application was made two years ago.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): I understand from the South Eastern Health Board, which administers the supplementary welfare allowance scheme in the Wexford area, that an application for assistance under the scheme towards the cost of installing electricity was received from the person concerned and that it was decided that assistance was not warranted.

It is open to the person concerned to appeal against the decision by writing to the appeals officer, Community Care, South Eastern Health Board, Arus Slainte, Kilkenny.

The question of determining entitlement to a supplementary welfare allowance is statutorily a matter for the chief executive officer of the local health board and I have no function in relation to decisions in individual cases. The person concerned is in receipt of an allowance for free bottled gas from my Department.

144. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare when he will help financially a person (details supplied) in County Wexford to install a telephone as the charges imposed are prohibitive for that person.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The free telephone rental allowance scheme operated by my Department does not cover the cost of installation. Local health boards may, however, grant assistance toward the installation costs of a telephone subject to their being satisfied as to the applicant's need for telephone facilities and of his inability to meet the charges involved.

If the person concerned considers that he may be entitled to such assistance he should apply to the Community Welfare Officer at his nearest health centre. An application for free telephone rental [861] allowance, which was made by the person concerned, was disallowed in January of this year as the persons residing with him are not, from the information furnished, permanently incapacitated. The applicant was informed accordingly at that time.

145. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason disability benefit is not being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned was paid injury benefit for the full statutory period of 26 weeks from 2 July to 31 December 1981, after which date he was transferred to disability benefit.

On 14 July 1982 the claimant was examined by a medical referee of my Department who expressed the opinion that he was capable of work. On 22 July 1982 he was notified that his claim was being disallowed and advised of his right to appeal against the decision.

The claimant appealed on 11 October 1982 and in connection with his appeal arrangements have been made to have him examined by a different medical referee at an early date. On receipt of the report of this examination the claim will be reviewed and he will be notified of the outcome.

146. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason pay-related benefit is not being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 27 September 1982. He was paid flat rate disability benefit from 30 September 1982, fourth day of incapacity, and pay-related benefit from 11 October 1982, thirteenth day of incapacity. The first payment of pay-related benefit was included in the cheque for £132.25 which issued to the claimant on 21 October 1982. All payments since that date have included disability benefit and pay-related benefit.

The full amount of disability benefit and pay-related benefit due has been paid [862] to 23 October 1982, date of the latest medical evidence received.

147. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the low rate of unemployment benefit being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned is being paid unemployment benefit at the weekly rate of £36.80 which is the rate appropriate to a person with one qualified child whose contribution record during the governing contribution period 6 April 1980 to 5 April 1981 is a total of 35 paid and credited contributions. To qualify for the maximum rate of unemployment benefit he would have to have at least 48 paid or credited contributions during the relevant period.

The person concerned is not entitled to pay-related benefit as a supplement to his flat-rate unemployment benefit as he has insufficient earnings during the relevant income tax year.

158. Miss Harney asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he intends to extend optical and dental benefits to wives of insured workers; if so, the time scale in which he proposes to implement these benefits; and if he is aware that the present situation is causing undue hardship to the poorer sections of the community.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): It is my intention to extend optical and dental benefits to the wives of insured persons as soon as practicable having regard to other priorities and the finances available to meet them.

In the meantime, the needs of the poorer sections of the community will continue to be catered for by the schemes administered by the regional health boards which are applicable to the holders of medical cards and their wives.