Dáil Éireann - Volume 526 - 28 November, 2000
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Appeals.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
339. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he has satisfied  himself that natural justice has prevailed in the case of the now reduced payment in lieu of disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the existence of already established precedent and practice; if at the time of enquiry about old age pensions, the person was advised of the potential reduction, notwithstanding the recent decision by the appeals officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27640/00]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Up to 1 October 1996 the person concerned was in receipt of disabled person's maintenance allowance from the health board at the maximum rate. His means were assessed at £4 a week derived from the rental of a second property owned by him. When my Department took over the administration of the scheme in October 1996 and the scheme became disability allowance he continued to receive payment at the maximum rate under the transitional arrangements which then applied. The person concerned reached pension age of 66 years on 6 January 2000. He was awarded an old age pension of £92.70 per week with effect from 7 January 2000. This amount comprised a personal rate of £58.50 and an increase of £34.20 in respect of his wife. This was based on a means assessment of £25.96 a week, deriving from the estimated capital value (£40,000) of the second property which he owned. His spouse was subsequently awarded a carer's allowance in her own right at the maximum rate of £76.50 per week. Consequently the qualified adult allowance payable to the person concerned as part of his pension was discontinued. Under social welfare legislation, the property is assessed by reference to its capital value. The property in question was initially valued on a provisional basis at £40,000 but subsequently was valued by the valuation office at £80,000.
Based on this value the person concerned was entitled to an old age non-contributory pension at the weekly rate of £9.50. This was the rate appropriate to his means at that time, assessed in full accordance with the rules set out in the legislation governing this scheme.
His means were again reviewed in the context of the improved capital assessment rules provided for in the Social Welfare Act, 2000, and this had the effect of increasing his rate of pension to £21.50 per week from 13 October 2000.
When the person made his application for old age pension his entitlement was dealt with in the normal manner by a deciding officer under the relevant old age pension means legislation. As is normal practice in such cases, where a person in receipt of an existing payment indicates that his means have changed, the claim is referred to a local officer for a review of means following that review, in this case the person concerned received notification of the decision in regard to his rate of old age pension, and of his right of appeal against that decision if he was dissatisfied with it.  He appealed to the social welfare appeals office. Having considered all the evidence, including that adduced at an oral hearing, the appeals officer upheld the means assessment.
The correct procedures appear to have been followed in this case. Under social welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.
Dáil Éireann 526 Written Answers. Social Welfare Appeals.