I have been continuously raising with the Social Protection Minister the need to have Carer’s Allowance applications approved in a timely manner. I have asked that the necessary resources be allocated to that particular Division of the Department to ensure that persons, who need this particular benefit, do not have unacceptable delays in having decisions made on their applications.
For Oral Answer on : 13/11/2018
Question Number(s): 106 Question Reference(s): 46795/18
Department: Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if additional resources will be provided to reduce delays in the processing of carer’s allowance applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
My 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.
Carer’s Allowance (CA) is a means-tested payment, made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that they require that level of care. An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people.
The target processing time for the CA scheme is to finalise 70% of new claims within 12 weeks. Currently the average time taken to process new CA applications is 17 weeks.
The principal reason for the length of time taken to process a CA claim is the growth in recent years in the number of applications received; these increased by 31% between 2015 and 2017. While no specific research into this has been undertaken by the Department, it is believed that the increase is broadly in line with demographic changes.
It is also the case that social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process. Before a decision can be made on entitlement to CA, evidence must be provided in respect of the carer’s habitual residence in the State, the level of care they provide, their means and also that the person being cared for has such a disability that they require full-time care and attention. It is sometimes the case that the documentary evidence provided at initial application stage is incomplete or insufficient and this can contribute to the time taken to process applications.
The Department recently launched a re-designed CA application form which includes a new Care Report section which has been arrived at through consultation between officials and medical assessors of my Department and representatives and members of Family Carers Ireland. This new form allows carers to provide more information on the type and level of care they provide, with an aim to providing Deciding Officers with the information they need to expedite decisions on entitlement.
Also, additional staff have also recently been reassigned to the CA area to work on claims processing and this should lead to a reduction in processing times.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.