Dáil Éireann - Volume 343 - 14 June, 1983

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

802. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare when unemployment benefit at the full rate will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who has 37 contributions in respect of 1980-1981 and 52 contributions in respect of 1981-1982 and who signed for benefit on 6 June 1982.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): To qualify for unemployment benefit at the full rate a claimant is required to have had at least 48 contributions in the governing contribution year. The person concerned claimed unemployment benefit on 19 June 1982. The governing contribution year in his case was 6 April 1980 to 5 April 1981. Only 30 employment contributions were recorded in respect of him for that year and he was allowed unemployment benefit at the appropriate rate in his case of [1341] £64.70. His record of 52 contributions in the contribution year from 6 April 1981 to 5 April 1982 was not reckonable in determining his claim made on 19 June 1982. However in order to ensure that he had no unrecorded contributions during the contribution year from 6 April 1980 to 5 April 1981, he has been asked for full details of his employment history during that year. If these inquiries reveal any unrecorded contributions during that period his entitlement will be reviewed accordingly.

803. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan has not received disability benefit since November, 1982.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned was paid disability benefit for the period from 18 November 1980 to 13 November 1982, under the RSI number allocated to her as a single person. She was also paid maternity allowance concurrently from 5 January 1981 to 28 March 1981 under the RSI number allocated to her as a married person.

Under the provisions of the Social Welfare Acts a person must have at least 156 paid contributions to her credit since entry into insurable employment in order to qualify for payment of disability benefit for a period exceeding 52 weeks.

According to the records of the Department the person concerned has a total of only 130 such contributions. Her entitlement to disability benefit became exhausted therefore on 8 February 1982. She has consequently been overpaid disability benefit amounting to £1,273.30 for the periods from 5 January 1981 to 28 March 1981 and from 9 February 1982 to 13 November 1982.

In order to requalify for payment of disability benefit she would need at least a further 13 weeks of insurable employment in respect of which contributions at the appropriate rate were paid.

She was informed of the position on 11 March 1983.

804. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister [1342] for Social Welfare the basis on which a means of £2,350 was assessed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The means of the person concerned were assessed by a deciding officer following an investigation by a social welfare officer during which the applicant was interviewed about his earnings from self employment.

On the basis of information which he furnished, his means, derived from self employment as a mechanic repairing tractors and farm machinery were assessed at being in excess of the statutory limit applicable to him, £2,350.40 per annum. His unemployment assistance claim was accordingly disallowed. He was notified of the decision in his case and of his right to have his case referred to an appeals officer for determination but to-date he has not done so.

805. Mr. Foley asked the Minister for Social Welfare when unemployment assistance at the maximum rate will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned was assessed with means £29.10 weekly derived from the profit of his holding and accordingly he is presently in receipt of unemployment assistance at £14.85 weekly being the maximum rate payable to him £43.95 less £29.10.

He has applied for a review of his means and his case has been referred to a social welfare officer for investigation. When the inquiries are completed his means will be reviewed and the rate of unemployment assistance payable to him will be determined accordingly.

806. Mr. Foley asked the Minister for Social Welfare when an old age pension will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): From the particulars furnished it has not been possible to trace [1343] an application for old age pension from the person concerned at the address mentioned by the Deputy. If further particulars are furnished, and in particular her pension number, the matter will be further considered.

807. Mr. Foley asked the Minister for Social Welfare when pay-related benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The entitlement of the person concerned to pay-related benefit with flat-rate unemployment benefit could not be determined until he furnished details of his earnings between 6 April 1981 to 5 April 1982 to enable the 85 per cent limit applicable to his claim to be determined. He furnished the required information on 6 May 1983 following which all arrears of pay-related benefit due to him was paid on 12 May 1983. Further combined payments £48.72 representing flat-rate unemployment benefit £26.25 and pay-related benefit £22.47 continued to be made as weekly payments become due.

808. Mr. Foley asked the Minister for Social Welfare when pay-related benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Entitlement to pay-related benefit with flat-rate unemployment benefit is subject to the condition that the sum of weekly flat-rate unemployment benefit and pay-related benefit may not exceed an applicant's reckonable weekly earnings during the relevant income tax period governing his entitlement to pay-related benefit.

The rate of flat-rate unemployment benefit payable to the person concerned who is engaged in systematic short-time working for three days each week from the commencement of his claim exceeded his reckonable weekly earnings which in his case amounted to £70.24 and accordingly he was not qualified for pay-related benefit up to 2 April 1983.

[1344] From 4 April 1983 pay-related benefit ceased to be payable with flat-rate unemployment benefit to any person engaged in systematic short-time work.

809. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason the payment of unemployment assistance has been discontinued in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will reinvestigate his case for payment.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned ceased to be entitled to unemployment benefit on 18 December 1982 when he had received his full entitlement of 390 days benefit. He applied for unemployment assistance but as his weekly means of £30 derived from land exceeded the maximum amount of unemployment assistance payable in his case, viz. £25.45, he was not entitled to payment.

If he considers that his circumstances have altered since his means were determined it is open to him to complete a form at his local office which would enable his case to be reviewed.

810. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will arrange to have a free travel pass issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny as he is 68 years of age and is entitled to the pass.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): It has not been possible from the particulars furnished to trace an application for free travel from the person concerned. An application form has been issued to him for completion and on receipt of the completed form in the Department the matter will be considered and he will be notified of the outcome.

811. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare the entitlement to dental benefit of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will arrange for early payment of benefit.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned [1345] claimed dental benefit on 17 January 1983. In order to qualify for this benefit claimants must satisfy certain contribution conditions, one of which requires persons over pension age to have had not less than 26 contributions paid or credited in either of the last two complete contribution years before reaching that age. The claimant reached pension age on 18 May 1976 and as he had no contributions paid or credited in either the 1974 or 1975 contribution years his claim could not be approved. Both the claimant and his dentist were notified accordingly on 8 March 1983.

812. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in holding an appeal against the discontinuation of the payment of unemployment assistance for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny as the appeal was lodged five weeks ago.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The appeal of the person concerned was referred to an appeals officer on 2 June 1983. Appeals are normally dealt with in chronological order of receipt by appeals officers and having regard to their itineraries in the case of oral hearings. It is understood that the appeal of the person concerned will be dealt with by the appeals officer this week.

813. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will arrange to have full arrears of unemployment benefit paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny as he lost his job under genuine circumstances and appealed against the disallowance of his first six weeks payment of unemployment benefit but heard nothing further to date.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The claim of the person concerned to unemployment benefit on 18 April 1983 was disallowed by a deciding officer for a period of six weeks from 15 April 1983, on the grounds that he lost his employment through his own misconduct. He has appealed against the decision [1346] and his appeal has been referred to an appeals officer for determination. The appeals officer proposes to hold an oral hearing of the case shortly. His entitlement for the period of the disallowance will be reviewed in the light of the appeals officer's decision.

All payments due from 27 May 1983 when the six weeks disallowance expired have issued to him and further weekly payments of £31.65 will continue to be made as they become due.

814. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a deserted wife's allowance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny as her appeal was heard seven weeks ago.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): On completion of inquiries requested by the appeals officer following the appeal hearing, it was decided that the person concerned now fulfils the conditions for receipt of deserted wife's allowance and she has been awarded the allowance for herself and one child at the maximum rate, with effect from 7 April 1983. An allowance order book payable from 16 June 1983 has been forwarded to the designated post office for collection by her and she has been notified accordingly.

A payable order for arrears from 7 April to 15 June 1983, less deductions in respect of unemployment benefit paid to her by the local employment exchange in that period, will be sent direct to the claimant.

815. Dr. Woods asked the Minister for Social Welfare the estimated cost in 1983 of (a) providing a double week payment for all long term social welfare beneficiaries in December; and (b) providing a £1 increase for all long term social welfare beneficiaries for one week in December.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The estimated cost in 1983 of (a) providing a double week's payment for all long term social welfare beneficiaries in December is about £18 million; and (b) providing a £1 increase for all long term social welfare beneficiaries. [1347] including their dependants, for one week in December is about £0.53 million.

816. Mr. Crotty asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny, who was let go from his employment on 20 November 1982 and who signed in Rathdowney for unemployment benefit, will receive payment.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned does not satisfy the contribution conditions for unemployment benefit. He applied for unemployment assistance following a period of employment from 27 October 1982 to 17 December 1982 but his claim papers went astray in postal transit causing delay in determining his claim. Inquiries were recently completed and he was assessed with nil means and he is accordingly entitled to unemployment assistance at the maximum rate payable to him £25.45 weekly.

He was in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance pending the outcome of his unemployment assistance claim and the advances paid to him have to be refunded to the health board. The balance of arrears of unemployment assistance due to him were paid last week and further payments at £25.45 will be made as weekly payments become due.

817. Mr. Crotty asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny will receive disability benefit in respect of four certificates which were sent to his Department within the last six weeks.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 18 May 1983 having been paid occupational injuries benefit for the maximum period of 26 weeks for the period from 17 November 1982 to 17 May 1983. Payment was delayed owing to an administrative error. All benefit payable from 18 May 1983 to 30 May 1983, the date of the latest medical certificate received has now been issued.

[1348] 818. Mr. Crotty asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will reconsider the decision refusing unemployment benefit for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned claimed unemployment benefit from 8 April 1983 but his claim was disallowed until 20 April 1983 on the grounds that he left his previous employment voluntarily without good cause. In addition, his entitlement to unemployment benefit from 21 April 1983 could not be determined until inquiries to ascertain what efforts he was making to find employment had been completed.

The investigations in the case were recently completed and his claim was allowed at the maximum rate payable to him £59.65 with effect from 21 April 1983. All arrears due were paid last week and further weekly payments will be made as they become due.

819. Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn asked the Minister for Social Welfare when benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned is not entitled to unemployment benefit as she has no contributions paid or credited during the relevant governing contribution period 6 April 1981 to 5 April 1982. However, when making her claim she stated that she had been employed during the period and inquiries were undertaken in the matter. She subsequently wrote to her local office and advised that she had not worked during the contribution period. Her unemployment benefit claim was disallowed and she was notified of the disallowance on 9 June 1983.

820. Mr. Conaghan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when disability benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned [1349] claimed disability benefit from 8 March 1983. He was not qualified for benefit at the commencement of his claim as he had not the required minimum of 26 contributions paid or credited in 1981-82, the contribution year governing his claim. The claimant subsequently indicated that he was employed in Northern Ireland during the 1981-82 year and following inquiries concerning his employment record in that year it was established that he had a title to benefit. A cheque for the amount of benefit due to 6 June 1983, the date of the latest medical certificate received, was issued to the claimant on 10 June 1983.

The person concerned is not eligible for pay-related benefit as he has insufficient earnings in the relevant income tax year, 1981-82. However inquiries are continuing in this regard and if there is any change in the position he will be advised accordingly.

821. Mr. D. Moynihan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when unemployment assistance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned was in receipt of unemployment assistance from 17 February 1972 up to 30 April 1980 when it came to light that his wife had another farm which he had not disclosed when his means were being assessed and payment to him was suspended. A deciding officer revoked his qualification certificate with effect from 17 February 1972 and revised his means upwards from that date.

Following an appeal, an appeals officer made some reduction in the amounts assessed by the deciding officer for the period after 1977 and confirmed that there had been wilful concealment of means, giving rise to an overpayment of £6,073.57 which was due to be recovered. The person concerned is presently assessed with means of £32.65 giving entitlement to unemployment assistance of £36.90 being the maximum rate £69.55 in his case less £32.65 means. However, in view of the size of the overpayment the total amount is being withheld until [1350] the full amount irregularly obtained has been recovered. The amount still due for recovery is approximately £1,850.00.

This will be increased to £43.90 per week from 29 June 1983. The unemployment assistance for which the person concerned is qualified is being withheld in recovery of the amount irregularly received by him. About £1,850 is still due for recovery and if the person concerned continues to sign as unemployed this will be recovered in about 42 weeks.

822. Mr. D. Moynihan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when unemployment assistance at the full rate will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): To be entitled to unemployment assistance at the maximum rate a person must be assessed with nil means. Following a recent reinvestigation of the means of the person concerned the amount of means assessed against him was reduced from £30 a week to £5 with effect from 2 December 1982. His weekly entitlement has therefore been increased to £64.55 being the maximum rate of £69.55 in his case less means £5. Arrangements have been made to pay all arrears due to him this week and further weekly payments of £64.55 will continue as they become due. If he considers that the amount of means assessed is excessive, it is open to him to appeal and to have his means determined by an appeals officer. A form for this purpose may be obtained at his local office.

823. Mr. D. Moynihan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when unemployment benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The unemployment benefit claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that she was not available for work. She appealed against the disallowance and on the basis of fresh evidence furnished by her in support of her appeal the disallowance was revised [1351] and her claim was allowed at the maximum rate payable to her £27.80 weekly.

Arrangements have been made to pay all arrears due this week and further payments will be made as they become due.

824. Mr. O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Welfare when disability benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 8 March 1980 and was paid to 18 March 1980 after which date he was certified as fit to resume work. There is no trace of a subsequent claim for disability benefit having been received in respect of the period from May 1980 to July 1980 as indicated in the details supplied with the question.

Arrangements were made for a social welfare officer of my Department to call on the claimant on 13 June 1983 with a view to obtaining more specific details concerning his claim from May 1980 to July 1980. When the inquiries are completed the claimant will be informed of the position.

825. Mr. Noonan (Limerick West) asked the Minister for Social Welfare when pay related benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): Following the recent completion of inquiries to determine the entitlement of the person concerned, pay-related benefit at the weekly rate of £37.27 has been authorised and all arrears of pay-related benefit due will be issued to him this week, by means of an order for encashment at his local post office. Combined weekly payments of £112.27 will continue to be paid to him as they become due.

826. Mr. Flynn asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo was disallowed unemployment benefit.

[1352] Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned claimed unemployment benefit on 16 November 1982. His claim was, however, disallowed by a deciding officer on the grounds that he did not satisfy the condition which requires that he must have at least 78 employment contributions at the appropriate rate in the three years prior to his claim or alternatively his income from farming must not exceed £2 a day. He had only 26 employment contributions in the three years prior to his claim and his income from farming was in excess of £2 a day.

He appealed against the decision but after an oral hearing of his case at which he gave evidence on his own behalf the appeals officer upheld the disallowance of the claim.

827. Dr. McCarthy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason disability benefit has been withdrawn from a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and when it will be restored as he is still attending an orthopaedic surgeon and a rheumatologist.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned was disallowed payment of disability benefit from 4 April 1983 following an examination by a medical referee who expressed the opinion that he was capable of work. He appealed against the disallowance and, in connection with his appeal, he was examined on 9 May 1983 by a different medical referee who also considered him to be capable of work.

The date of the latest medical certificate received is 24 March 1983. The claimant has been advised to submit medical evidence of his incapacity from 24 March 1983 if he considers himself to be ill and incapable of work from that date. On receipt of this medical evidence his case will be referred to an appeals officer for determination.

828. Mr. J. O'Leary asked the Minister for Social Welfare if unemployment assistance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry from the date she completed her AnCO training [1353] course; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned was assessed with means £28.90 weekly derived from the value of board and lodgings on her father's holding. Her unemployment assistance claim was disallowed as the means assessed against her exceeded the maximum rate of unemployment assistance payable to her.

She appealed against the disallowance of her claim. Arrangements are being made to have her case determined by an appeals officer and her entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the decision of the appeals officer.

829. Mr. J. O'Leary asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the long delay in paying unemployment assistance to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and when the arrears will be paid.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): The person concerned applied for a qualification certificate on 4 March 1983 but he changed his address and was not available for interview by the social welfare officer when he called at the address given on the application form. The social welfare officer has been informed of the change of address and he will be calling on the person concerned shortly to investigate his means. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be determined in the light of the social welfare officer's report.