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Tracy McGinnis and her son Brendan Tracy McGinnis
Disability Allowance

Mother receives letter seeking repayment of disability allowance claimed after her son died

Tracy McGinnis said that she was “shocked and appalled” at the letter.

A WOMAN HAS said that she is disgusted after she received a letter seeking repayment of €208 in disability allowance due to it being claimed in the week where her disabled son died.

Tracy McGinnis, whose son Brendan Bjorn McGinnis passed away on 17 May aged 17, was sent a letter by the Department of Social Protection seeking repayment of €208 in disability allowance.

Brendan was born with congenital CMV that left him severely disabled and medically fragile, with Tracy providing full-time care to her son.

Tracy made the final claim a day after Brendan died, believing that she was able to following information she received on Citizens Information.

The letter, which first expresses sympathies on the passing of Brendan, then seeks the repayment of the €208 which should be payable to the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Minister Heather Humphreys.

Speaking to Newstalk’s Anton Savage Show this morning, Tracy said that she was left shocked, appalled, angry and hurt by the letter she received.

“Shocked and appalled and angry and then hurt you know, just a mix of emotion,” said Tracy, adding that she had read on both Citizens Information and the Welfare website that allowances could continue to be claimed for six weeks after someone had passed away.

However, this was not the case as Brendan was not a “romantic cohabitant” and that his benefits ended when he passed away.

“What makes a parent carer of an adult child any less dependent on that adult child’s disability allowance and related social welfare payments than if it was a spouse or a romantic partner,” said Tracy.

“I can tell you that as a lone parent carer for all of these years, having lost the career behind, having no other source of income, I don’t have a partner or a spouse, any other means of income, to have everything cut off at a time my world is literally shattered.”

Speaking on the same programme, Humphreys said that the letter should not have been sent and that Tracy will not have to pay back the €208.

“This shouldn’t have happened, and how anybody thought it was appropriate to send a letter to a grieving mother is beyond me,” said Humphreys.

She said she has spoken to officials and that they will look at how to handle that type of situation in the future.

“But for somebody to receive a letter like that a few weeks after their son died is is tone deaf,” she said.

“We have to do better and we have to ensure it doesn’t happen again and all I can do is apologize.”

Humphreys extended her “deepest condolences” to Tracy on the death of Brendan.

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