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'Completely unacceptable': 21-week wait for carer's allowance claims to be processed

The Department of Social Protection said processing times vary for different payments, depending on the qualification criteria.

Image: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

THERE HAS BEEN a call for measures to be put in place to reduce the average waiting times for processing social welfare claims.

The average waiting time to process applications for carer’s allowance claims is 21 weeks (as of 30 April).

Meanwhile, the waiting times for processing disability allowance and invalidity pension claims are 10 and 12 weeks respectively.

The waiting period is much shorter for jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance – just one week and two weeks respectively.

The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question asked by Independents 4 Change TD Tommy Broughan to new Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar. Broughan said many of the waiting times are “unnecessarily long”, something that needs to be “urgently addressed”.

Broughan said the 21-week average wait for carer’s allowance claims to be processed is “completely unacceptable for friends and family members of loved ones who require full-time care and who often do so for a long time at their own expense”.

The average waiting times for various payments vary from one week to 39 weeks.

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social welfare Source: Oireachtas.ie

A spokesperson told us the department “always aims to ensure that claims are processed as quickly as possible”, noting: “This is possible in most cases and each scheme area is continuously monitored.”

Processing times can vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Some schemes require a high level of documentary evidence from the customer, particularly illness-related schemes, and can take longer to process. Similarly, means-tested payments require more detailed investigation and interaction with the applicant, lengthening the decision making process.

The spokesperson added that delays can also arise “when the application form is not completed fully or supporting documentation is not provided”.

They noted that there is no backlog for family income supplement applications, with new claims processed “within two or three weeks and renewals processed in advance of the previous claim ending”.

In terms of treatment benefit claims, which cover dental and optical issues and hearing aids, the spokesperson said they are processed within one-and-a-half weeks of receipt, adding: “There are no delays in spite of 450,000 claims being made annually.”

Read: Social welfare office workers suffer punches and have chairs thrown at them

Read: Joan’s department recovered €83m in social welfare overpayments last year

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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