Dáil Éireann - Volume 369 - 22 October, 1986

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

327. Mr. J. Walsh asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will arrange to pay unemployment benefit to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Entitlement to unemployment benefit is subject to the condition that a person must have at least 26 contributions paid or credited in the governing contribution year at a contribution class which provides cover against unemployment. The person concerned claimed unemployment benefit from 27 June 1986. Inquiries had to be made to establish if her employment during the relevant contribution period 6 April 1984 to 5 April 1985, which governed her claim from 27 June 1986, was insurable at a contribution class which provides cover against unemployment. These inquiries will be completed as soon as possible and her entitlement to unemployment benefit will be determined in the light of the outcome.

328. Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for Social Welfare the steps which were [187] taken recently to alleviate hardship caused to recipients of invalidity pensions as a result of delays in issuing new pension books.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Invalidity pensions in payment to married men with dependants were renewed from 2 October 1986. Normally invalidity pension renewal books are in in the post offices of payment on the date of the last order in the old pension books.

On this occasion, however, a delay occurred in the printing of the books which resulted in a slight delay in issuing the books to post offices. However, the vast majority of them were in the appropriate post offices by the date of the first orders in the new books — 2 October 1986. The remainder of the books were in the post offices within two days. If, however, the Deputy is aware of undue delays in individual cases and he forwards the pensioners' names and pension numbers to the Department, the cases will be attended to as a matter of urgency.

329. Mr. J. O'Leary asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason unemployment benefit was not paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Entitlement to unemployment benefit is subject to the condition that a claimant must be available for and genuinely seeking employment. The person concerned claimed unemployment benefit from 15 April 1986 and her claim was disallowed on the grounds that she was not available for employment. She appealed against the disallowance and attended an oral hearing of her case on 25 June 1986. The appeals officer also decided that she was not available for employment.

She claimed unemployment benefit again from 14 July 1986. This claim was also disallowed on the grounds that she was not available for employment. She has been notified of this decision and of her right to appeal against it.

[188] 330. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will grant a free electricity allowance to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who changed residence and assumed that the free electricity allowance would continue without renewing her application.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): An application for a free electricity allowance from the person concerned was received in the Department on 23 May 1986. The application was approved and the ESB has confirmed that the allowance was applied to her account from 1 July 1986 which in normal circumstances would be the appropriate commencement date in her case. In the light of the information supplied by the Deputy arrangements are being made for the allowance to be backdated to 28 March 1986 when she became the registered consumer of electricity at her present address.

331. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will grant a free electricity allowance to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): One of the conditions for receipt of a free electricity allowance is that an eligible person must be living alone or with certain excepted persons. The applicant concerned is residing with her son who is not a person who comes within the excepted categories for satisfying the living alone condition of the scheme. She does not, therefore, satisfy the conditions for receipt of the allowance.

332. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if unemployment assistance payments will be sanctioned for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and, if so, when and at what rate.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation of the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned she was assessed with means of £22.40 weekly. She was, accordingly, in receipt of unemployment assistance of £10.60 weekly, being the [189] appropriate maximum rate payable in her case of £33 less means of £22.40.

She appealed against the amount of means assessed against her and her papers were referred to a social welfare officer for further inquiries. These inquiries will be completed shortly and her case will then be submitted to an appeals officer for determination at the earliest available opportunity.

The entitlement of the person concerned to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal. The person concerned has not been in contract with her local employment office since 9 September 1986.

333. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will be awarded unemployment assistance payments on an appeal basis.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Entitlement to unemployment assistance is subject to the condition that a person must be available for and genuinely seeking work. The person concerned claimed unemployment assistance from 16 July 1986 and his claim was allowed from that date at £76.10 weekly, being the appropriate maximum rate payable in his case, subject to review in two months to ascertain if he satisfied the condition of genuinely seeking work. He was paid up to 30 September 1986 when his claim was reviewed. No evidence was produced by him to show that he made any efforts to obtain work and, accordingly, his claim was disallowed from 1 October 1986 on the grounds that he was not genuinely seeking work.

He appealed against the disallowance on 14 October 1986 and his case has been submitted to an appeals officer for determination at the earliest available opportunity. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal.

334. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will be [190] awarded unemployment assistance payments in view of the very long period he has been claiming; and when a decision will be given in this regard.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation, the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that, by failing to furnish details of his means, he failed to show that his means did not exceed the statutory limit. He appealed against this decision and in February 1986 an appeals officer also disallowed his claim. He continued to sign the unemployment register.

In August 1986, he asked for his claim to be reviewed and his papers were referred to a social welfare officer for reinvestigation of means. These inquiries will be completed shortly and his case will then be submitted to a deciding officer for assessment of his means. The entitlement of the person concerned to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of that assessment.

335. Mr. J. O'Leary asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will have his application for a substantial increase in unemployment assistance reviewed and if she will make a statement on the matter, indicating the reason his means cannot be reduced.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following a review of the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned he was assessed with means of £66.90 weekly, derived from the profit from his holding. He appealed against the amount of means assessed against him and an appeals officer on 31 July 1986 also assessed him with means of £66.90.

He is, accordingly, in receipt of unemployment assistance of £3.10 weekly, being the appropriate maximum weekly rate payable in his case of £70 less means of £66.90. The person concerned applied recently for a further review of his case and his papers have been referred to a social welfare officer for reinvestigation [191] of means. These inquiries will be completed as soon as possible and his case will then be submitted to a deciding officer for assessment of means. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the assessment.

336. Mr. Foley asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a decision will be made in the appeal claim for unemployment benefit of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Entitlement to unemployment benefit is subject to the condition that a claimant must be available for, and genuinely seeking full time employment. When the person concerned claimed unemployment benefit from 6 August 1986, she stated that she was only available for part time work and consequently her claim was disallowed.

She recently appealed against the disallowance and her case has been submitted to an appeals officer for determination. An oral hearing of her case will be held at Tralee at the earliest available opportunity. The entitlement of the person concerned to unemployment benefit will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal.

337. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who is a pensioner living alone will be approved for a free telephone rental allowance following a recent application; and if she considers that such pensioners should be eligible given their rate of weekly payments relative to the rate of a contributory old age pension.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The free telephone rental allowance is available subject to certain conditions, to persons aged 66 years or over who are receiving social welfare old age type pensions. The allowance is also available to persons irrespective of age, [192] who are receiving invalidity pension, blind persons pension or disabled persons maintenance allowance. As the person in question is not in receipt of any of these payments he does not qualify for the allowance.

Persons living alone with a level of income from all sources not exceeding £48 per week can qualify for a non-contributory old age pension thereby creating an entitlement to the free telephone rental allowance. There are no proposals at present for the inclusion in the scheme of pensioners whose levels of income exceed that which would enable them to qualify for a social welfare pension.

338. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will be awarded unemployment assistance payments further to a recent appeal in view of the fact that he had no income whatever for the period of his claim; and if she will clarify the reason any form of higher education grant is deemed as means for unemployment assistance purposes.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation, the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that his means, derived from the maintenance portion of a student grant and from the value of board and lodgings on his parents' holding, exceeded the maximum rate of unemployment assistance payable in his case.

He appealed against the disallowance on 6 October 1986 and, arising from contentions raised by him in support of his appeal, his papers were returned to the social welfare officer for further inquiries. These inquiries will be completed as soon as possible and his case will then be submitted to an appeals officer for determination at the earliest available opportunity.

The entitlement of the person concerned to unemployment assistance up to 23 August 1986, after which date he ceased to sign the unemployed register, [193] will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal.

The maintenance portion of student grants is assessed as means for unemployment assistance purposes under section 146(1)(b) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1981, as “income which he may reasonably expect to receive during the succeeding year in cash”.

339. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will be awarded unemployment assistance at the maximum rate; and, if so, when.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation of the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned he was assessed with means of 95p weekly, derived from the value of capital. He is, accordingly, in receipt of unemployment assistance of £69.05 weekly, being the appropriate maximum rate payable in his case of £70 less means of 95p.

A form on which to appeal was issued to the person concerned on 9 October 1986, but it has not been returned to date. When the completed form is returned to his local office his case will be submitted to an appeal officer for determination at the earliest available opportunity. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal.

340. Dr. McCarthy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason only £2.60 per week unemployment assistance has been granted to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary as his income is not in the region of £76.90 assessed against him; when his payment will be up-graded; and by how much.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation of the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned in September 1985 he was assessed with means of £76.90 weekly, derived from the profit from his holding. He was, accordingly, entitled to unemployment assistance of £2.60 [194] weekly, being the appropriate maximum rate payable in his case of £79.50 less means of £76.90.

If the person concerned was dissatisfied with the amount of means assessed against him, it was open to him to appeal and have his case decided by an appeals officer. He did not avail of this right and he has not been in contact with his local employment office since 4 March 1986.

If the person concerned is of the opinion that his circumstances have changed since the last investigation of his means it is open to him to apply for a review of his case. A form for this purpose may be obtained from the local office of the Department.

341. Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in County Offaly is only receiving £29.50 per week unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation of the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned she was assessed with means of £3.50 weekly, derived from the value of board and lodgings in her parents' home. She is, accordingly, in receipt of unemployment assistance of £29.50 weekly being the appropriate maximum rate payable in her case of £33 less means of £3.50.

If the person concerned feels that her circumstances have changed since the last investigation of means it is open to her to apply for a review of her case. A form for this purpose was issued to her by her local employment office last week.

342. Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Social Welfare the present position regarding the application of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly for an invalidity pension.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Invalidity pension is payable to insured persons who satisfy the contribution conditions and who are permanently incapable of work. Arrangements have been made to have [195] the person concerned examined by a medical referee on 22 October 1986. His entitlement to invalidity pension will be reviewed in the light of the report of this examination.

343. Mr. McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Welfare when unemployment assistance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Meath who is signing on at Navan employment exchange.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation of the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned, he was assessed with nil means with effect from 3 September 1986.

He is, accordingly, in receipt of unemployment assistance at the maximum weekly rate appropriate in his case of £33. All arrears due to him were paid last week and weekly payments of £33 will continue to be made as they become due.

344. Mr. Begley asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kerry did not receive an over-eight allowance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): A pension book at the weekly rate of £3.35 in respect of the over-eighty allowance payable to the person concerned from 10 October 1986 was issued to Killorglin post office on 30 September 1986. In the light of the Deputy's representations the Department has written to the pensioner and when his reply is received, any further action necessary will be taken as soon as possible.

345. Mr. Enright asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will expedite a decision on the unemployment benefit claim of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and the present position in relation to her claim.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Entitlement to unemployment benefit is subject to the condition that a [196] claimant must be available for and genuinely seeking work. The person concerned was last employed in June 1977. She was in receipt of disability benefit between that date and 6 September 1986. She claimed unemployment benefit from 8 September 1986 and inquiries are being made to ascertain whether she fulfills the condition of being available for and genuinely seeking work. These inquiries will be completed as soon as possible and her entitlement to unemployment benefit will be considered in the light of the outcome.

346. Mr. G. Collins asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in the payment of unemployment assistance to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation of the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned she was assessed with means of £3.70 weekly. She is, accordingly, entitled to unemployment assistance of £29.30 weekly, being the appropriate maximum rate payable in her case of £33 less means of £3.70.

All arrears due to the person concerned are being paid this week and weekly payments of £29.30 will continue to be made as they become due. While every effort is being made to process claims with the minimum of delay, nevertheless, due to the large volume of claims received in the Department, there is an inevitable delay in some cases. Delays are most likely to arise where means testing is involved as in this particular case, where the social welfare officer must visit the claimant's home to investigate the means. The delay which occurred in this case is regretted.

347. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare when an invalidity pension will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny who was examined by a medical referee on 9 October 1986, in respect of his claim for such pension.

[197] Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Invalidity pension is payable to insured persons who satisfy the contribution conditions and who are permanently incapable of work. The person concerned was examined on 9 October 1986, by a medical referee who did not consider him to be incapable of work. A deciding officer has decided that he is not, therefore, entitled to invalidity pension or disability benefit.

348. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if investigations carried out by her Department on the application of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny for unemployment assistance have yet been completed; and, if so, the outcome of such investigations.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The person concerned claimed unemployment assistance in July 1986 and her papers were referred to a social welfare officer for investigation of means. These inquiries were completed recently and a deciding officer assessed her with means of £8.45 weekly, derived from the value of board and lodgings in her parents' home.

She is, accordingly, entitled to unemployment assistance of £24.55 weekly, being the appropriate maximum rate payable in her case of £33 less means of £8.45. All arrears of unemployment assistance due to the person concerned will be paid this week. She ceased to sign the unemployed register on 4 October 1986.

349. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will investigate the reason the full rate of unemployment assistance is not being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation of the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned he was assessed with means of £14.35 weekly, derived from the value of board and lodgings in his parents' home. He is, accordingly, in receipt of unemployment assistance of £18.65 weekly, being the appropriate [198] maximum rate payable in his case of £33 less means of £14.35.

The person concerned did not avail of his right to appeal against the means assessment but arrangements have now been made to issue a form to him on which he can appeal his case. When the completed form is returned to his local office his case will be submitted to an appeals officer for determination at the earliest available opportunity. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal.

350. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in having pay-related benefit paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The person concerned claimed maternity benefit under the general scheme on 8 April 1986 in respect of her confinement expected on 7 April 1986. She was in receipt of unemployment benefit prior to her claim for maternity benefit and details of that claim had to be sought from her local employment exchange before the maternity benefit claim could be paid.

A cheque for £395 which represents flat rate covering the period of the claim from 3 March 1986 to 10 May 1986 issued to her on 6 May 1986. A further cheque for £149.60 for pay-related benefit issued to her on 9 May 1986 and two further cheques for £54.46 (flat rate and pay-related benefit) issued to her on 13 May and 20 May 1986.

351. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare the outcome of the application of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny for unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The person concerned claimed unemployment assistance in December 1985. His claim was disallowed by a deciding officer, on the grounds that his means exceeded the statutory limit. He [199] appealed against the disallowance of his claim but an appeals officer also decided that his means exceeded the statutory limit.

He claimed again on 25 August 1986 and his papers were referred to the social welfare officer for investigation. These inquiries will be completed as soon as possible and his case will then be submitted to a deciding officer for assessment of means. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be determined in the light of this assessment.

352. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if any decision has yet been made on the appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Carlow against the decision of her Department to refuse to grant him unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The person concerned appealed against the means assessment on his unemployment assistance claim and, arising from contentions raised by him in support of his appeal, the case was returned to the social welfare officer for further inquiries.

These inquiries were completed recently and his case has been referred to an appeals officer for determination at the earliest available opportunity. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal.

353. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare the outcome of an appeal made by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny against the decision of her Department to refuse to grant a single woman's allowance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation the claim of the person concerned for single woman's allowance was disallowed on the grounds that her means, derived from the value of board and lodgings on her brother's holding and from capital, exceeded the statutory limit.

[200] She appealed against the means assessment but the appeals officer also disallowed her claim. She was notified of the appeals officer's decision on 13 May 1986.

354. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a single women's allowance will now be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny in view of the evidence submitted to her Department by Deputy Aylward on 19 August last.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation the claim of the person concerned for single woman's allowance was disallowed on the grounds that her means exceeded the statutory limit. She appealed against this decision and the appeals officer also disallowed her claim.

Following the receipt of new evidence her case was referred to a social welfare officer for further investigation. When this investigation is completed her entitlement to single woman's allowance will be determined as quickly as possible.

355. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if an invalidity pension book and arrears have yet issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Invalidity pension has been awarded from 17 April 1986 and a pension book payable from 6 November 1986 has been issued to the designated post office of payment. Arrears in respect of the period from 17 April 1986 to 5 November 1986, less the amount of disability benefit paid during that period, will be paid by payable order.

356. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare the outcome of an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny in respect of his application for disablement benefit.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The person concerned claimed [201] injury benefit on 2 April 1985 in respect of an accident at work on 28 March 1985.

The claim was in respect of a prescribed disease for which disablement benefit, but not injury benefit, is payable and the claim therefore was treated as a claim to disablement benefit.

Following investigation, it was not accepted that the disablement was occupational in origin and the claim was disallowed. The claimant appealed against the decision and following review of the claim including additional medical evidence received, it has been decided to revise the decision and to allow the claim for injury benefit from 28 March 1985 the date of accident on the basis of the incapacity having resulted from an accident rather than from a prescribed disease.

Injury benefit over and above disability benefit paid will be issued shortly in respect of the injury benefit period to 25 September 1985.

With regard to disablement benefit, it is considered that a further medical examination should be carried out following which the question of his disablement will be further reviewed. A decision will then be made which may be appealed against in the normal way.

357. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will confirm that family income supplement books will now be reissued to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny in view of the fact that he returned to work on 25 August 1986.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): A family income supplement book is being issued to the post office designated by the claimant and it will be available for collection by him in the next day or two. This book will replace the two books of payable orders which were returned to the Department by the claimant recently. A letter explaining the adjustments which were necessary as a result of his absence from work and expressing regret for the delay in dealing with the matter was sent to the claimant on 17 October 1986.

[202] 358. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a free telephone rental allowance can now be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny where medical evidence has been submitted in respect of his spouse.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): To qualify for a free telephone rental allowance, a person in receipt of a qualifying payment must be living alone or only with children under 15 years of age or other persons who are so permanently incapacitated as to be unable to summon aid in an emergency.

The person concerned is in receipt of a qualifying pension and resides with his wife. In order for him to qualify for this allowance, his wife would have to be permanently incapacitated. The medical evidence submitted by the Deputy is insufficient to allow a decision to be given in the case. The applicant has therefore been requested to furnish more comprehensive medical evidence in respect of his wife. On receipt of the appropriate medical evidence a decision will be given in the case and the applicant will be notified of the outcome.

359. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a free telephone rental allowance will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): To qualify for a free telephone rental allowance, a person in receipt of a qualifying payment must be living entirely alone or only with children under 15 years of age or other persons who are so permanently incapacitated as to be unable to summon aid in an emergency.

The person concerned applied for the allowance on 12 September 1986. A social welfare officer has been requested to visit the applicant to confirm that he is living alone. On receipt of the officer's report, a decision will be given in the case and the applicant will be notified of the outcome.

360. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister [203] for Social Welfare if unemployment assistance will now be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that, by failing to furnish details of her means, she failed to show that her means did not exceed the statutory limit.

She has indicated that she is dissatisfied with the disallowance of her claim and that she wishes to appeal against it. A form on which to appeal has been issued to her by her local employment office. When the completed form is returned her case will be submitted to an appeals officer for determination and her entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal.

361. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare the outcome of further inquiries carried out by her Department on the application of a person (details supplied) in County Laois for unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that his means, derived from the profit from his holding, exceeded the statutory limit.

Further inquiries in the case by the social welfare officer were recently completed and his case is being submitted to a deciding officer for an assessment of his means as soon as possible. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of this assessment.

362. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Social Welfare if any decision has yet been made on the appeal lodged by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny for an increase in unemployment assistance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The person concerned appealed [204] on 23 September 1986 against the means assessment on his unemployment assistance claim and, arising from contentions raised by him in support of his appeal, the case has been returned to the social welfare officer for further inquiries.

The inquiries will be completed as soon as possible and his case will then be submitted to an appeals officer for determination. The entitlement of the person concerned to unemployment assistance will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the appeal.

363. Mr. F. Fahey asked the Minister for Social Welfare if she will give details of the means assessed against a person (details supplied) in County Galway who has been disallowed unemployment assistance; and in the event of means being assessed against him for self-employment, if she will give details of the employment he was engaged in and the periods for which he was employed.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Following investigation, the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that, by failing to furnish details of his means, he failed to show that his means did not exceed the statutory limit.

If the person concerned is dissatisfied with the decision, it is open to him to appeal and have his case determined by an appeals officer. A form for this purpose may be obtained from his local employment office.

364. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 can be allocated a free telephone allowance in view of the fact that he had to retire at the age of 55 due to a heart condition; he lives alone and his pension from An Post is only £57 per week and he needs a telephone in order to summon aid in an emergency.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The free telephone rental allowance scheme applies to persons over 66 years of age who are in receipt of a social [205] welfare type pension. Persons under that age may qualify for the allowance if they are in receipt of an invalidity pension or blind pension from the Department or a disabled person's maintenance allowance from a health board.

The person concerned is under 66 years of age and is not in receipt of a qualifying payment. Accordingly he is not entitled to a free telephone rental allowance.

365. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in the payment of unemployment benefit to a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and when payment will now be made.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): Entitlement to unemployment benefit is subject to the condition that a claimant must have at least 26 contributions paid or credited at the appropriate rate in the contribution year which governs the claim.

The person concerned claimed unemployment benefit from 22 September 1986. His claim was disallowed on the grounds that, according to the records of the Department, he had no contributions paid or credited during the contribution year 6 April 1984 to 5 April 1985, which governed his claim.

The person concerned had been in receipt of disability benefit from July 1982 to January 1985, after which date payment was suspended pending investigation of possible concurrent working and claiming.

On completion of these inquiries his claim for disability benefit was disallowed with the result that he was not entitled to credited contributions for the period in question, which included portion of the contribution year 1984-85, which governed his claim for unemployment benefit.

There is no record of paid contributions in respect of his employment during the period concerned and inquiries are being made as to whether this employment was insurable at a contribution class which provides cover for payment of unemployment benefit.

[206] 366. Mr. Prendergast asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the refusal to pay disability benefit to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick, if she is aware that this person suffers from epilepsy since the birth of her first baby; and when this benefit will be paid.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 23 June 1986.

She is not entitled to payment of benefit on her claim as according to the records of the Department she has less than the required minimum of 26 contributions paid since entry into insurable employment.

Credited contributions have been awarded, however, up to 6 October 1986, the date of the latest medical certificate received. These credited contributions while not entitling her to payment preserve the continuity of the contribution record for the duration of the illness.

367. Mr. Prendergast asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in paying disability benefit to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick, and when this money will be paid.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 16 September 1985.

She is not qualified for benefit as regulations provide that where a claimant has no contributions paid or credited for any two consecutive contribution years preceding her claim, she cannot qualify for payment of disability benefit, or the award of credited contributions in respect of periods of incapacity for work, until she has a further 26 weeks of insurable employment for which the appropriate contributions have been paid.

According to the records of the Department, the person concerned had no contributions paid or credited in the years 1972-73 to date and has not had 26 weeks of insurable employment since that time.

[207] 368. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Social Welfare the basis on which an earnings figure of £4,095 a year from 26 May 1986 and £4,251 a year from 9 July 1986 was calculated in the case of the unemployment assistance of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed on the grounds that his means of £5,041.92 per annum, derived from self-employment and benefit from his wife's earnings, exceeded the statutory limit. The appropriate statutory limit at the time of his application was £4,095 per annum and this was subsequently increased to £4,251 with effect from 9 July 1986.

He appealed against the disallowance of his claim but an appeals officer also decided that his means exceeded the statutory limit.

If the person concerned is of the opinion that his circumstances have changed since the last investigation of his means it is open to him to apply for a review of his case. A form for this purpose may be obtained at his local employment office.

369. Mr. Kitt asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a decision will be made on an appeal for unemployment assistance by a person (details supplied) in County Galway.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mrs. Hussey): The unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed by a deciding officer on the grounds that the assessment of his means, derived from the profit from his holding, exceeded the statutory limit. The appropriate form to enable him to appeal against the means assessment was issued to him on 28 July 1986, but the completed form has not yet been returned by him. A reminder was issued to him recently advising him to contact his local office in the matter.

When the appeal form is returned his [208] case will be referred to an appeals officer for determination at the earliest available opportunity. His entitlement to unemployment assistance will be determined in the light of the outcome of the appeal.