138. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to extend the internship programme for current participants from nine months to 18 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57576/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - National Internship Scheme Numbers)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals in organisations in the private, public and community voluntary sectors and at present is limited to individuals who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments (Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit/One Parent Family Payment/Disability Allowance) or are signing on for credits for at least 3 of the last 6 mont...

139. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated number of workers here who will be affected in 2013 by the removal of the weekly PRSI allowance from full rate and modified rate PRSI contributions. (Question 57620/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Social Insurance Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Where an employee’s weekly earnings exceed €352 per week, he or she is liable to pay PRSI at 4% on all income over the weekly PRSI Free Allowance of €127. For civil and public sector employees paying modified rate contributions (Classes B, C and D), and who pay PRSI at 0.9%, the weekly PRSI-free allowance is €26. With effect from 1 January 2013, these weekly PRSI free Allowances are being abolished.
This estimated number of workers affected ...

142. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a domiciliary care application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick (Question 57402/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on the 30th November 2012. This application has been forwarded to one of the Department’s Medical Assessors for their medical opinion. Upon receipt of this opinion, a decision will issue to the customer. It can take up to 8 weeks to process an application for DCA.
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143. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a file in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal was requested by the appeals office in August 2012 regarding an appeal for disability allowance has still not been sent from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57417/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Disability Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The person concerned applied for disability allowance on 8 November 2011. The application, based upon the evidence provided, was refused on the ground that the person in question was not medically suitable for disability allowance. The person was notified in writing of this decision on 14 March 2012. The person subsequently submitted further medical evidence for review. However, upon review, it was decided that there was no grounds to revis...

144. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will urgently proceed with opening the proposed Money Advice and Budgeting Service office in Killarney to provide reasonable access on a geographical basis to all of County Kerry to facilitate the growing demand for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service in County Kerry, which currently is being serviced by Tralee Money Advice and Budgeting Service office which is inundated with increased numbers availing of the essential services and assistance it provides. (Question 57456/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Money Advice and Budgeting Service Issues)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Money Advice & Budgeting Service (MABS), under the aegis of the Citizens Information Board, has an office in Tralee, which serves all of County Kerry. MABS outreach services are also currently provided in Killarney and Listowel.
Plans to open a shared office for MABS, National Advocacy Service and the Citizens Information Services in Killarney town are at an advanced stage of development and it is anticipated that the services will be ful...

145. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the review of an appeal for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57468/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Invalidity Pension Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 13th September 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 12th December 2012 and the case will be referred to an A...

146. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection when a determination will be made in regard to an appeal for an invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57470/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Invalidity Pension Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 9th November 2012, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against dec...

147. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57472/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Disability Allowance Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): An application for disability allowance was received from the person concerned on the 26 October 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for examination and decision. Once decided, the person will be notified directly of the outcome.
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148. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if her reform plans would make allowances for a situation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57494/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Jobseeker’s Benefit Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Social welfare legislation provides that a person must satisfy the conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work in order to be entitled to jobseeker’s benefit. Any person who fails to satisfy these conditions is not entitled to a jobseeker’s benefit payment.
Part-time fire-fighters are entitled to a jobseeker’s benefit payment in respect of days that they are engaged in fire-fighting or training. They are, however, required t...

150. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection the problems that would be encountered in means testing all social welfare payments; the steps she is taking to overcome these problems and when we may expect a means tested system of payments. (Question 57519/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Social Welfare Code Review)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I understand that the Deputy is referring to the extension of means testing to all social welfare payments, including social insurance benefits and pensions. The primary component of the Irish system of social protection is a social insurance system whereby entitlement to contingency-based benefits is secured largely on the basis of earnings related paid contributions to the Social Insurance Fund (SIF). There is also a subsidiary system of s...

151. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will address the anomaly whereby both parents who have legal joint custody of children are not entitled to an equal proportion of child related benefits and that the means testing process, which sees maintenance payments considered an income for the recipient, would consider it an outgoing for the provider; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57550/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Child Benefit Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Department of Social Protection administers a wide range of payments through which it provides supports to families including those with children. I understand that the main payments in regard to this question include child benefit and qualified child increases to primary social welfare payments. 
Child benefit is a universal payment made in respect of the care of children. Reflecting changes to the payment and its precursor (the children...

152. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide an update on an appeal for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57565/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Invalidity Pension Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The person concerned is currently in receipt of illness benefit from this Department. Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions.
This department received a claim for invalidity pension for the person concerned on 7 November 2011. The claim was refused by a deciding officer on the ground that the person in question was not deeme...

153. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications for family income supplement that were received by her Department before 5 November 2012 that are not yet processed; the timescale for concluding these cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57595/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Family Income Supplement Application Numbers)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.
FIS claims, both new and renewal, received on or after the 5th November 2012 are currently being processed on receipt. On 2 November 2012 there were 7,390 (approx.) new FIS applications and 7,810 (approx.) renewal applications awaiting approva...

155. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath was classified as an adult dependant, but who in fact could have afforded a social welfare payment in their own right is not allowed to participate under the jobbridge initiative; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57604/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - National Internship Scheme Numbers)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The eligibility to access the National Internship Scheme is based on the overall Labour Market policy objective of ensuring a pathway to appropriate employment, training and education opportunities. The policy objective is to prioritise scarce resources to those in receipt of specified payments or who are on the Live Register so as to increase their chances of leaving it, thereby ensuring a reduction in Exchequer costs over time. 
In pursuit...

156. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. (Question 57640/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 9th March 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.
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157. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if arrears in respect of back to education or one parent family allowance is warranted for the period February to October 2012 in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57666/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Back to Education Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): A review of this case will be undertaken and the person concerned will be informed of the outcome on completion of the review.
 ...

158. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which entitlement to partial sick benefit is likely to be affected after 9 January 2013 when entitlement expires in the case a person (details supplied) in County Laois; if they will have an entitlement to disability allowance in view of the fact that their spouse is unemployed and in receipt of unemployment benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57667/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Disability Allowance Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The person concerned made an application for partial capacity benefit on 1st October 2012. They will be notified of the decision of this application on 21st December 2012. 
Partial capacity benefit is a social welfare scheme which allows a person with a reduced capacity to work to return to work or self-employment, and continue to receive a payment from the Department of Social Protection. 
To qualify for partial capacity benefit a person mu...

159. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the level of rent allowance payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57668/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Rent Supplement Scheme Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The person concerned was sent a request for further information on the 18th September 2012 in relation to a matter that was brought to our attention by the landlord. The rent supplement claim remains suspended until this information has been supplied.
 ...

160. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if a domiciliary care allowance will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny as a matter of urgency. (Question 57674/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 17th December 2012 and the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer decision when the appeal has been determined.
 The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently...

161. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an application for a social welfare appeal hearing of the refusal of an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57687/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Disability Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 and 163 together.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3rd October 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 17th...

162. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an application for a social welfare appeal hearing of the refusal of an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57688/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Carer’s Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3rd October 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 7th December 2012 and the case will be referred to an Appea...

163. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an application for a social welfare appeal of a refusal of an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath (Question 57689/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Disability Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 and 163 together.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3rd October 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 17th...

164. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of participants on the rural social scheme broken down on an integrated company basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57735/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Rural Social Scheme Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 165 together.
The rural social scheme currently provides work opportunities for around 2,600 participants and 130 supervisory staff. Overall responsibility for the RSS rests with the Department of Social Protection with responsibility for its day-to-day operations resting with 35 local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta which is responsible for delivery in Gaeltacht areas, collectively refe...

165. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of participants on the rural social scheme broken down by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57743/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Rural Social Scheme Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 165 together.
The rural social scheme currently provides work opportunities for around 2,600 participants and 130 supervisory staff. Overall responsibility for the RSS rests with the Department of Social Protection with responsibility for its day-to-day operations resting with 35 local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta which is responsible for delivery in Gaeltacht areas, collectively refe...

166. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications on hand, under each social welfare scheme, that have not been decided and were made more than three months ago; the reason for the delay in processing applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57749/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Social Welfare Schemes Administration)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Department is committed to ensuring that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible. Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Schemes that require a high level of documentary evidence from the customer, particularly in the case of illness-related schemes, can take longer to process. Similarly, means-tested payments can also require more detailed investigation and interaction with the ...