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Burton: No plans to change disability allowance eligibility

The Minister noted a surge in applications for disability allowance, but denied any changes in criteria or conditions.

Joan Burton
Joan Burton
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall

THE MINISTER FOR Social Protection Joan Burton has insisted there are no plans to change eligibility for disability allowance.

Last week, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality Willie O’Dea said that Burton has been misleading people over disability allowance cuts and requested a detailed explanation about the “surge” in people being rejected and about delays in processing applications.

Responding to the suggestions on RTÉ’s Today With Pat Kenny programme today, Burton said there had been “absolutely no change” in criteria or conditions.

The Minister said that her department was currently changing computer systems that dealt with applications, which explained delays in processing. She also noted a surge in applications for disability allowance - particularly from people in receipt of other welfare allowances who wished to transfer.

However, O’Dea rejected Burton’s response as “totally unacceptable”.

“Minister Burton is misleading the public and treating those who are seeking the allowance with contempt. The stats do not lie, the refusal rate for initial applications for the Disability Allowance rose from 54 per cent in 2010 to 61 per cent of applications being refused in the first quarter of this year.”

O’Dea said it was “plainly obvious” that something had changed and accused the Department of Social Protection in being “underhanded” in refusing people allowances. He added that thousands of children with intellectual disabilities had “inexplicably” lost their Domiciliary Care Allowance over the past year.

“We now see waiting times for the Carer’s Allowance rising to almost 12 months, again the Minister needs to answer questions about this hugely worrying situation. I am calling on the Minister to be upfront on this and reveal what has changed in her Department,” he said. “If the criteria has changed the least people deserve is an explanation as to why they have been refused their allowances or why they are waiting 40 weeks for their applications to be processed.”

Read: FG mayor speaks out against disability cuts>

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