Dáil Éireann - Volume 621 - 07 June, 2006
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Mr. Ring Mr. Ring
 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of people currently in receipt of carer’s allowance; the number of those recipients who provide full time care to two people; and her plans to introduce an additional payment for people who are providing full time care to three or more people. [21555/06]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: At present there are 25,788 people in receipt of carer’s allowance, of which 2,788 provide full time care to two people. There are a further 1,042 people in receipt of carer’s benefit at present and 103 of those are providing care to two people.
In Budget 2006, I provided for a significant increase in the rates of carer’s allowance and carer’s benefit. From January this year, the rate of carer’s allowance increased to €180 per week where the person is caring for one person and €270 per week where the person is caring for two people. Recipients of carer’s allowance aged 66 or over receive an additional increase of €20 or €30 per week, respectively. Similarly, the rate of carer’s benefit increased to €180.70 per week where the person is caring for one person and €271.10 where the person is caring for two people.
Provision was made in Budget 2006 to increase the amount of the respite care grant from €1,000 to €1,200. In recognition of the particular challenges which are faced by those carers who are providing care for three or more people, the respite care grant is paid in respect of each of their care recipients. In addition, from June 2005, the annual respite care grant was extended to all carers who are providing full time care to a person who needs such care regardless of their income.
All support schemes for carers will be kept under review and further possible improvements will be considered in a budgetary context.
Mr. Ring Mr. Ring
Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has been refused invalidity pension in view of the fact that the person has a serious form of epilepsy; if a copy of the report by the medical adviser or assessor will be provided in this case; the further reason his Department overruled the medical evidence supplied by the person; and his Department’s views on whether a person with uncontrollable epilepsy is capable of work. [21595/06]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: The person concerned is currently in receipt of disability benefit. He applied for invalidity pension on 14 March 2006 and that claim was disallowed on 25 May 2006.
The principal conditions for entitlement to invalidity pension are that a person must satisfy  both medical eligibility criteria and social insurance conditions. The person concerned currently satisfies the social insurance conditions but not the medical condition. The medical criteria for Invalidity Pension are that at the date of his claim a person must have been incapable of work for at least 12 months and be likely to be incapable of work for at least another 12 months or be determined by my Department to be incapable of work for life.
In order to assess the suitability of the person concerned on medical grounds, the medical evidence submitted in support of his invalidity pension claim was examined by a Medical Assessor of my Department on 19 April 2006 who concluded that a medical examination should be arranged. The examination took place on 23 May 2006. The Medical Assessor gave the opinion that the person concerned was not permanently incapable of work. The Medical Assessor advised that he was likely to be incapable of work for a period of six months. The claim was subsequently refused by a Deciding Officer. The applicant has a right of review by the Deciding Officer and right of appeal to the Independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.
With regard to my Department’s view on whether a person with epilepsy may be capable of work, it is possible for a person with epilepsy to work depending on the circumstances of the particular case. In this case the person concerned was deemed following his medical assessment to be currently unfit for work by reason of his epilepsy, which is currently difficult to control. His incapacity was deemed to be temporary and subject to review in six months. Considering the variety of anticonvulsant medication currently available, it is reasonable to assume that an adequate degree of control might be attained in that time period and that the person’s fitness for suitable employment could then be reviewed.
When conducting an examination, the Medical Assessor does not dispute the existence of a cause of incapacity but assesses the degree to which the illness will satisfy the eligibility criteria for invalidity pension. In this case, the person concerned was deemed not to have satisfied the medical qualifying criteria for Invalidity Pension.
A copy of the report by the Medical Assessor can be issued if requested by the customer with signed authorisation for release. This request should be forwarded to The Medical Review and Assessment Section, Department of Social and Family Affairs, 157-164 Townsend Street, Dublin 2.
Mr. G. Murphy Mr. G. Murphy
Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if full-time students can sign on for unemployment during the summer months as part-time jobs are not available, in particular, in rural areas and the Government has  abolished the student summer scheme. [21617/06]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: In general, a student undergoing a full-time course of study, instruction or training is disqualified from receiving unemployment assistance. This disqualification also extends to the holiday periods, including the summer holidays.
An exception is made in the case of mature students i.e. persons over age 23 years on or before 1 January in the year in which the course of study commences. Such students may qualify for unemployment assistance during the summer months subject to satisfying the conditions of entitlement to the scheme.
Students who have been working on a part-time basis may have built up sufficient PRSI contributions to enable them to claim unemployment benefit during the summer vacation period. Subject to satisfying the normal conditions for receipt of payment, a part-time worker is entitled to unemployment benefit provided he or she is fully unemployed for at least 3 days in any period of 6 consecutive days.
Question No. 262 withdrawn.
Dáil Éireann 621 Written Answers. Social Welfare Benefits.