59% of social welfare appeals succeeded

A majority of people last year who appealed decisions that had refuse or part-granted them social welfare payments received a favourable outcome.

The latest, annual report of the Social Welfare Appeals Office shows appellants had a success rate of 59%.

Appeals were disallowed in 36% of claims and withdrawn or not pursued in 5%.

The number of people who appealed fell by 6% last year, or 1,600, down to 24,475.

The vast majority of appeals related to claims for benefits and allowances for illness, disability, and caring and working age-income supports.

Appeals over decisions on the Disability Allowance are the single biggest category, with 6,435 new cases lodged last year.

In contrast, the number of appeals relating to pensions and child-income supports is relatively low.

25,406 appeals were finalised in 2015, a 19% reduction on the previous year’s figures. One in five of all appeals was revised in favour of the applicant, as a result of a review carried out by an official of the Department of Social Protection, on foot of notification from the SWAO that the original decision was being appealed.

The average time to process social welfare appeals was reduced from 24.2 weeks, in 2014, to 20.9 weeks last year.

The chief appeals officer, Joan Gordon, said the wait was due to the Department’s submission on the appeal case, further medical assessments, further investigation and possible oral hearings.

6,900 cases went to an oral hearing last year. Despite last year’s reduction in appeals, the SWAO said the number is still significantly higher than pre-2009 levels.

The reduction in new cases during 2015 is attributed to fewer appeals relating to working age, income, and employment support schemes.

For example, there was a 21% decrease in appeals concerning jobseekers’ allowance.

Almost three-fifths of all appeals are made by females.

Males have a slightly more successful appeal rate, with 64% of them receiving a favourable decision, compared to 61% of women.


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