Dáil Éireann - Volume 394 - 06 December, 1989

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Payments.

81. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22 is entitled to a free fuel allowance and a Christmas bonus having regard to the fact that the person concerned is in receipt of disability benefit since June, 1989 and was in receipt of unemployment assistance for the preceding four years and is likely to revert to unemployment assistance when her present illness is over; and whether, for all intents and purposes, the person concerned remains long term unemployed and that this status should not be affected by a temporary illness and should not disqualify her from the Christmas bonus or the free fuel allowance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Free fuel allowance and the Christmas bonus are payable to people who are in receipt of certain long term benefits or pensions. Disability benefit is a short term benefit and is not a qualifying benefit for receipt of either the free fuel allowance or the Christmas bonus. As [486] the person concerned is at present in receipt of disability benefit she does not qualify for either of these payments.

82. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22 who submitted medical certificates to his Department from September 1989 and was from the outset, without an examination by the medical referee, disallowed disability benefit; if there are any precedents for disallowing disability benefit without first having examination by the medical referee; when this practice commenced; if he accepts that, by the time the medical referee carries out an examination, the person's state of health could have greatly worsened or improved; if, in the circumstances, he will decide that the person concerned should be paid disability benefit until such time as the medical referee has undertaken an examination and made a decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed disability benefit from 12 September 1989. As she had been found capable of work by a medical referree on two occasions — 1 May 1989 and 20 June 1989 — in connection with a previous claim concerning a similar illness she was advised that payment would be withheld on this claim pending the result of a medical examination.

On examination by a medical referee she was again considered capable of work. Payment of disability benefit was therefore refused. She was notified on 21 November 1989 of this decision and of her right to appeal. It is the practice, in cases with a background similar to this one, to reserve payment until the claimant has been examined by one of the Department's medical referees. If the examination favours the applicant payment is authorised and the accumulated amount due is paid.

83. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Social Welfare the correct amount of an [487] old age non-contributory pension payable to a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Following an investigation by a social welfare officer of the person's circumstances, a deciding officer held on 22 September, 1989 that the person concerned was not entitled to a pension as his means of £64.27 per week from a British retirement pension exceeded the statutory limit of £54.00 per week.

However, if his circumstances change, he should write to my Department stating clearly how they have changed and furnish the relevant supporting documentation. On receipt of this information, his case can be reviewed.

84. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a free fuel allowance will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned is in receipt of maximum rate old age contributory pension of £102.20 per week. He does not appear to have applied for the fuel allowance.

An application form has now been issued to him for completion. On its return his eligibility for the allowance can be determined and he will be informed of the decision without delay.

85. Mr. O'Leary asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kerry was not granted an old age non-contributory pension at the full rate, in view of the fact that he was in receipt of £36 per week unemployment assistance prior to his application for an old age non-contributory pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned is not entitled to old age non-contributory pension as his means have been assessed at [488] £66.33 per week, derived from capital and profits from a holding. His means were last assessed in 1984, for unemployment assistance purposes and they have increased since that time.

An examination of his claim for pension shows that due to a clerical error, his means has been incorrectly calculated at £56.72 on the basis of which he has been receiving a pension payment of £8.80 a week in respect of a dependent child. His entitlement has had to be reviewed in the light of this and a deciding officer has held that he is no longer entitled to pension as his means now exceed the statutory limit for entitlement.

The person concerned has lodged an appeal against the means assessment in his case and the matter has been referred to an appeals officer.

86. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a free fuel allowance has not been paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who is in receipt of an invalidity pension.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The national fuel scheme applies to persons in receipt of long term social welfare or health board payments who live alone or only with persons who come within certain qualifying categories. Short-term unemployment assistance is not a qualifying category for receipt of a fuel allowance.

A member of the household of the person concerned is in receipt of shortterm unemployment assistance. The person concerned is not, therefore, eligible for a fuel allowance under the national fuel scheme.