Dáil Éireann - Volume 639 - 18 October, 2007
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Deputy Denis Naughten Deputy Denis Naughten
Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the processing time for a child benefit application and the number of applications on hand; the correspond ing figures for Irish residents where the children reside in another EU country and the number of such applications approved to date; the annual cost to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24594/07]
Deputy Martin Cullen Deputy Martin Cullen
Deputy Martin Cullen: The majority of Child Benefit applications received are for children born in Ireland. Claims are processed automatically if child benefit is already in payment for other children in the family once the birth details are registered with the General Registrar’s Office. Parents are contacted in most cases by the Child Benefit office within two days of the registration of their child’s birth. If there is no Child Benefit claim already in payment, then a pre-prepared application form is issued as soon as the birth details are registered. On return of the completed form the claim is awarded and payment issues normally within 7-10 days.
With regard to claims for children born outside Ireland, these fall into two categories — those born outside Ireland and now living here; and those born, and remaining resident, outside Ireland.
There is a total of some 6,000 claims for non-Irish national children born outside Ireland and now resident in Ireland at various stages of processing. These cases can be slow to process as the customer must first satisfy the Habitual Residence condition. This may entail contacting employers, the Department of Justice and other relevant bodies to confirm their status in the State. In addition, checks are made with schools to confirm the permanent residency of the children in Ireland. The average processing time for these claims is 6 months.
There is a further 19,000 claims from EU nationals for non-resident children in the course of being processed at present. EU nationals who come to work in Ireland but whose families remain in their home country may have an entitlement to Family Benefits (of which Child Benefit is one) in Ireland under EU Regulation 1408/71. Before payment of Child Benefit is made in respect of non-resident children it is necessary to contact the authorities in the children’s country of residence to confirm their details and establish what, if any, family benefits are payable there. This process can take a number of months to complete. The average time at present for this category of claim is some 12 months.
Child Benefit is currently in payment under EU Regulations to some 1,300 families, in respect of almost 3,000 children resident outside the Republic of Ireland. The estimated cost of such claims in 2007 is €25 million. Efforts are ongoing to process Child Benefit claims in respect of non-Irish national children as efficiently as possible. Measures being taken include examination of the processes involved to ensure they are as streamlined as possible; the judicious use of overtime  working; and the addition of extra staff on a temporary basis to process these claims.
Dáil Éireann 639 Written Answers. Social Welfare Benefits.