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Willie O'Dea says Burton 'continues to mislead' over disability allowance cuts

Fianna Fáil TD said the Minister for Social Protection should be upfront about changes to criteria for the allowance and explain application refusals and delays.

Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection
Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

FIANNA FÁIL TD Willie O’Dea has said Minister Joan Burton continues to mislead people over the refusal rates for the disability allowance.

Deputy O’Dea was responding to comments by Minister Burton that there has been no change in criteria or conditions in the application process for the allowance.

Last week O’Dea requested a detailed explanation from the minister about the surge in people being rejected for the disability allowance as well as delays for up to 12 months on processing applications.

“The facts are there for all to see, three out of every five applications for disability allowance have been rejected since the start of this year,” he said.

Between January and April this year, the Department of Social Protection turned down 4,823 applications.

Burton responded to the request that there had been no change in criteria or conditions and that the department is changing computer systems with applications which would improve waiting times.

O’Dea said he found the minister’s response “totally unacceptable”.

“Minister Burton is misleading the public and treating those who are seeking the allowance with contempt,” he said.

“The stats do not lie, the refusal rate for initial applications for the disability allowance rose from 54 percent in 2010 to 61 percent of applications being refused in the first quarter of this year.”

O’Dea said this was all part of an “underhanded pattern” to refuse people their allowances and that the department was now on course to reject 15,000 applications this year.

“It is plainly obvious that something has changed here and the situation is made all the more distressing for those in desperate need of the allowance because they are not being told the truth here,” he said.

O’Dea called on the minister to be “upfront on this and reveal what has changed in her department”.

“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,” he added.

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