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Carers Waiting 35 weeks for Welfare Decision while same Department is doling out free Water Conservation Grants

Applicants for Carer’s Allowance are waiting 35 weeks on average for a decision on their payment according to a Dáil reply.

The Dáil reply (see at end) sets out the long average waiting time across a number of schemes including:

Carer’s Allowance 35 weeks
Disability Allowance 32 weeks
Invalidity Pension 21 weeks
State Pension Non-Contributory 20 weeks

When waiting times for appeals are excluded, the waiting times for carers allowance is still 16.5 weeks, state pension non-contributory 14.5 weeks and disability allowance 9.7 weeks.

It tells a lot about the political priorities of the Government that they are doling out free Water Conservation Grants, and all the administrative burden that is entailed with that, at a time when pensioners, Carers and people with disabilities are waiting for basic payments from the same Department. Most of these payments are means-tested meaning the applicants have little or no other income. They simply can’t afford to wait months for these decisions.

While the Department of Social Protection is leaving these people in limbo, they are pulling out all the stops to dole out a free non-means tested payment under the guise of water conservation. Phone-lines were manned until late at night, deadlines have been extended, a media campaign was engaged in.

Is there any better evidence that the Government is now governing in its own interest rather than the people they were elected to serve?

Question No: 177 Ref No: 34045-15

To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the average waiting times from the point of application to a decision being made in respect of each social welfare payment.
– Róisín Shortall.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 6th October, 2015.

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):
A breakdown of the average time, where available, to award claims during August 2015 is detailed in attached tabular statement.
Processing times vary by scheme reflecting their differing legal eligibility requirements such as income/means limits and medical status. The processing times provided in the table also incorporate the impact of overall processing times of the appeals process.

Tabular statement attached/…….

Average Time to Award Claims August 2015
Scheme Average Time to Award Claims
Jobseekers Benefit 3
Jobseekers Allowance 3
One-Parent Family Payment 9
State Pension Contributory (Domestic) 4
Widow, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension 2
State Pension Non-Contributory 20
Household Benefits 3
Free Travel 3
Supplementary Welfare Allowance 1
Family Income Supplement (New Claims) 3
Child Benefit (Domestic and FRA) 2
Child Benefit (EU regulation) 29
Carer’s Allowance* 35
Disability Allowance* 32
Domiciliary Care Allowance 15
Invalidity Pension* 21
Illness Benefit 1
* The average time to award state pension non-contributory, disability allowance, carers’ allowance and invalidity pension applications at the end of August was 20, 32, 35 and 21 weeks respectively. New applications for state pension non-contributory are currently decided upon inside 14.5 weeks, disability allowance are currently decided upon inside 9.7 weeks, carer’s allowance are currently decided upon inside 16.5 weeks on average and invalidity pension claims are currently decided upon within 3.8 weeks of receipt. The overall average processing times reflect appeals in the system.