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€92.35 million overpaid in Social Welfare payments in 2011

Overpayments have increased year-on-year since 2007, according to new figures released by Minister Burton.

Minister Joan Burton
Minister Joan Burton
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

MORE THAN €90 million was overpaid in Social Welfare payments in 2011, it has been confirmed – almost €40 million more than in 2007.

Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, was asked about the overpayments by Deputy Simon Harris in a parliamentary question.

Minister Burton said that overpayments are generally defined “as money obtained contrary to or in excess of a valid decision” and that most “arise as a result of a revised decision regarding entitlement”.

“In general, the main causes of overpayments recorded are means/income not disclosed and concurrently working and claiming,” said the Minister.

She explained that an overpayment is assessed for the period that a client was not entitled to a payment and the recovery of the overpayment is followed up by the relevant section of the department.

Where overpayments do occur, it is the Department’s policy is to actively pursue the recovery of debt in order to maximise recovery levels, with due regard to value for money. Current measures to control fraud and abuse and minimise overpayments include desk reviews of claim papers, home visits, the issue of mail-shots to selected customers, database checking, and medical reviews in the case of illness payments.

The overpayments were:

  • 2007: €50.52 million, with the highest overpayment of €10.40 million in Jobseekers’ Allowance
  • 2008: €55.58 million with the highest overpayment of €8.91 million in Jobseekers’ Allowance
  • 2009: €66.81 million with the highest overpayment of €11.70 million in State Pension non-contributory
  • 2010: €83.42 million, with the highest overpayment of €12.09 million in State Pension non-contributory, with Jobseeker’s Allowance a close second at €12.01 million
  • 2011: €92.35 million, with the highest overpayment of €16.61 million in Jobseekers’ Allowance

Minister Burton said that controls include medical examinations for people receiving illness payments, and regular reviews of claims. People receiving unemployment payments are also checked on an on-going basis to verify that they are complying with the requirements and are genuinely seeking employment.

The figures for 2012 are currently being audited.

Read: Social Welfare repayments could ‘force people into destitution’ under new Bill>

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