Waiting times for social welfare claims ‘unacceptable’

Applicants for invalidity pensions are waiting over a year to get their money while those applying for the carer’s allowance must wait more than eight months.

Those applying for the disability allowance must wait an average of 23 weeks to get their entitlements, while those lodging new claims for family income supplement must wait an average of 14 weeks.

The waiting times for 22 social welfare payment types were revealed by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty.

Of the 22 payments, 11 are being dealt with within a month including jobseeker’s benefit (two weeks), jobseeker’s allowance (four weeks), and household benefits (two weeks).

However, three payment types are taking over six months to process, including the invalidity pension (60 weeks), carer’s allowance (34 weeks), and child benefit under EU regulations.

The delay in getting a result to a social welfare payment appeal can also be extremely long.

Ms Burton confirmed that illness benefit appeals can take an average of 48 weeks, maternity benefit appeals can take 51 weeks, and occupational injury benefit appeals can take 59 weeks.

Mr Doherty said waiting times were “unacceptably high”. He said: “Since this Government took office some of the waiting times have actually got worse.”

The Department of Social Protection last night said it was committed to ensuring that claims are processed “as expeditiously as possible”. It said processing times vary across schemes, depending on qualification criteria, and that schemes that require a high level of documentary evidence can take longer.

Pay delays

Waiting times for social welfare payments:

- Invalidity pension — 60 weeks

- Carer’s allowance — 34 weeks

- Disability allowance — 23 weeks

- State pension non-contributory — 14 weeks

- Family income supplement (new claims) — 14 weeks

- One-parent family payment — 13 weeks


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