Over half of disability allowances not granted

More than half of all applicants for the disability allowance were not granted the payment last year, while figures show 340 people had the payment withdrawn after a medical check.

Statistics for 2012 from the Department of Social Protection show half of the cases refused the payment were later awarded it after appeal — a situation described as “worrying” by the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI).

The departmental figures show 26,159 disability allowance claims were processed last year, with 40% (10,400 claims) awarded and 55% (14,519 claims) refused. A further 1,240 claims were withdrawn.

At the end of last year 101,784 people were receiving the disability allowance.

Just 340 people had their disability allowance claims stopped following a medical review. The DFI said the disability allowance must be provided to those who need it.

Chief executive John Dolan said: “DFI are concerned by these figures as we know that people with disabilities are struggling to deal with the cumulative impact of cuts to their services and supports, for example, deep cuts to the household benefits package, cuts to the respite care grant, and an increase in the prescription charge to medical card holders and the drug payment scheme threshold.

“Furthermore, with increases in the population generally and with people with disabilities living longer, it must be acknow-ledged that the demand for [the disability allowance] will be increased.

“Disability allowance comes with important secondary benefits as part of a package of measures to compensate people for their disability; for instance, access to a transport card, their medical care, the household benefit package, and an income disregard to help get people back to work.

“It is important that the department be rigorous in relation to assessment but those who require support must get it in a timely manner.”

The figures show that the Social Welfare Appeals Office decided on 4,310 disability allowance appeals last year — almost half of which were unsuccessful.

While 2,114 appeals were allowed and 95 were partially allowed, 2,101 were disallowed.

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