Dáil Éireann - Volume 616 - 08 March, 2006

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

  139. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a cheque will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in respect of clothing allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9728/06]

  Mr. Brennan: Under the terms of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which is administered on my behalf by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive, an exceptional needs payment may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which the applicant is unable to meet out of his-her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment. Each application is determined by the executive based on the particular circumstances of the case.

The Dublin-mid-Leinster area of the executive has advised that the person concerned applied for an exceptional needs payment in December 2005. He was requested to provide additional information in relation to his claim, outlining the exceptional needs and circumstances. When he supplies the necessary information, the executive will determine his entitlement and notify him accordingly.

  140. Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way in which money is credited to the swipe card of social welfare recipients; if there is a time limit on encashing the money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9627/06]

  Mr. Brennan: My Department’s policy is to ensure that a range of payment options is available to customers and that service is continually improved by providing access to the wide range of payment options and new services and facilities now available. At present, some 175,000 [718] customers of my Department, mostly those on unemployment and other short term payments, receive their payment by means of electronic information transfer, EIT, at post offices. My Department issues an electronic payments file to An Post, on a daily basis, with payment details for each customer. The customer accesses their payment by using their social services card at their nominated post office.

The timeframe in which payments must be collected before they expire depends on the control measures associated with that payment and the capacity of the computer systems in my Department and in An Post. Unemployment payments, payable on Tuesday and Wednesday each week, must be collected by the following Tuesday. Customers using this system to collect longer-term payments, which are due for collection on Thursdays and Fridays each week, have an extra week that is up to the following Tuesday week, to collect their payments.

Recently some 43,000 one-parent family payment customers of my Department changed from personalised payable order books, PPO, to payment by EIT using their social services card at their local post office. At present, the payments for these customers are due to be collected on a Thursday and if uncollected the payment expires on the following Tuesday. My Department has reviewed the position regarding these customers and as a result the period within which their payment must be collected is being extended by one week. The new arrangements will be put in place during April.

If a customer is unable to collect his or her payment at the post office in time, for instance because of illness, an absence from home or work commitments, arrangements are made by my Department to reissue the payment. Customers may also notify the local office of my Department if they plan to take a holiday so that their payments can be reinstated promptly on their return. Some customers may find it more convenient to have the payment made directly to their bank account and my Department will facilitate this where the customer requests this arrangement.

  141. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there is anything under Irish legislation which permits compensation to be paid to the children of a non-national killed in a motor accident who has working here since 2002 and was the principal breadwinner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9628/06]

  Mr. Brennan: Under Irish social welfare legislation provision is made for the payment of a bereavement grant which is payable on the death of an insured person or of a child under age 18, or under age 22 if in full-time education. The pay[719] ment is based on PRSI contributions and is a once-off payment of €635 payable to the person responsible for paying the funeral bill.

Entitlement to the grant can be based on the deceased person’s own insurance or on the insurance record of the spouse. Contributions paid in any other member state may be combined with the person’s Irish record to meet the PRSI conditions.

In addition to bereavement grant, the deceased person’s spouse may be entitled to a survivor’s contributory pension from Ireland in proportion to the period of insurance completed in Ireland and, to a widowed parent grant, which is designed to help with the income support needs of widowed persons with qualified children.

I understand that some further information is required by the child benefit office of my Department in order to determine entitlement to child benefit for the person concerned. In order to ensure that the surviving spouse and-or family members receive their full entitlements from my Department it will be necessary to have relevant application forms completed and returned to this Department. An official from my Department has been in touch with the embassy concerned in this regard. Officials from my Department will be happy to assist the Deputy in any way possible to ensure that the surviving family members receive any payments due from my Department.