266. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average processing times for applications for partial capacity benefit; her views on whether the time it is taking to process such applications is discouraging persons from returning to work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20301/18 asked on 09 May 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): The partial capacity benefit (PCB) scheme allows people with restricted capacity to avail of employment opportunities while still in receipt of an income support. The scheme is open to people who:

a) have been in receipt of illness benefit for a minimum of six months;

or

b) are in receipt of invalidity pension.

The process of claiming PCB involves the submission and consideration of medical evidence in relation to the application by a Departmental Medical Assessor. A person must be assessed as moderate, severe or profound in order to be eligible for PCB.

Following a decision to put a PCB claim into payment, there is a requirement to liaise with the customer in order to commence the PCB claim on a date to coincide with the start date of the customer’s employment. This can result in longer start times for PCB claims in certain cases.

My Department makes every effort to expedite decisions for PCB claims. The average time taken to process PCB claims is currently 14 weeks. The scheme is moving to a new computer system before the end the summer which, along with a streamlining of existing procedures, should further reduce processing times.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.