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Maternity benefit payments in Ireland are backlogged by 'a number of months'

A Department of Social Protection official has said “it is not possible to give an accurate date” for the process of backlogged maternity claims.

shutterstock_540779644 Source: Shutterstock/Valeria Aksakova

MATERNITY BENEFIT PAYMENTS due from the Department of Social Protection are currently mired in a backlog extending for “a number of months”.

One woman, who is due to go on maternity leave from early June, has been told that it will be some months before her application for the benefit is processed.

Ordinarily, those eligible for State maternity benefit are instructed to apply for it at least six weeks before they plan to go on leave (12 weeks if they are self-employed).

In this case the woman in question applied for the benefit fully nine weeks before her maternity leave is due to begin.

In correspondence with the Department of Social Protection seen by TheJournal.ie, the woman was last week informed, two weeks subsequent to her application, that “it will be a number of months before we get to your claim”.

“It is not possible to give an accurate date of process,” the woman was told by a department official.

That official added that “maternity benefit claims are processed in commencement date order and, due to backlogs, we are currently processing claims commencing (on the) 3 April”.

Given the department is only now processing claims dating from over two weeks ago, it seems likely that some women who have already given birth (most maternity leave commences roughly two weeks before a baby is due) will yet to have received their own benefit.

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie regarding this matter a spokesperson for the Department of Social Protection apologised “to any customer who has experienced a delay in getting their maternity benefit and want(s) to assure customers that every effort is being made to ensure all claims are processed as quickly as possible”.

“The Department is making every effort to ensure that customers are paid in a timely manner and improvements to systems and work practices are being made in order to reduce delays,” they said.

To alleviate delays, extra staff have been assigned and are working overtime. The Department also facilitates online applications for maternity benefit and an automated decision issues where the customer submits all necessary information and where the detail provided can be validated.

Clarity was not given as to how many people are affected, or as to when the backlog is expected to be cleared.

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