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Hundreds waiting over a year to appeal refused disability allowance

Figures released by Joan Burton show 4,169 are appealing a refusal, with 321 of them waiting over a year for it.

Willie O'Dea has challenged Joan Burton to explain why refusal rates for disability allowance have increased since she took office.
Willie O'Dea has challenged Joan Burton to explain why refusal rates for disability allowance have increased since she took office.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

OVER 300 PEOPLE have been waiting for more than a year to hear the result of an appeal against a refusal to grant them disability allowance, new figures have shown.

Figures released by minister Joan Burton show that 4,169 people have appealed rulings that they are not entitled to the allowance – with 2,513 of them waiting over four months for their appeal to be heard.

In 321 cases, people have been waiting over a year to have the appeal heard, according to figures released to Fianna Fáil social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea.

The figures also revealed that 113 people are waiting to have appeals heard for applications for carer’s allowance for over a year, out of a total of 1,635 appeals pending.

“The facts are there for all to see,” O’Dea said yesterday. ”Three out of every five applications for the Disability Allowance have been rejected.

“Between January and April, the Department of Social Protection turned down 4,823 applications – this represents a 61 per cent refusal rate, up from 54 per cent in 2010.”

O’Dea said Burton had responded to his question about the delays – which has yet to be publicly published online – by blaming a transition to a new computer system.

The former minister said Burton should now go before an Oireachtas committee to explain why families were waiting so long to have appeals heard, and why so many appeals were being rejected in the first place.

“This Government has consistently attacked supports for young people with disabilities since coming into office and they have been forced into a series of row-backs and ‘reviews’,” O’Dea said.

In Dáil exchanges earlier this week Burton and O’Dea clashed over whether the refusal rates for disability allowance had increased since the current coalition came into office, or whether the slide came under the previous Fianna Fáil-led administration.

O’Dea pointed out that refusal rates had remained steady in 2009 and 2010, but had increased in 2011 – the year Fine Gael and Labour took office. Burton pointed out, however, that the overall volume of applications began to increase significantly during Fianna Fáil’s time in office.

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Gavan Reilly

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