Thomas Pringle TD

Dáil Q: Will those affected by Illness Benefit get compensation?

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For Oral Answer on : 19/02/2019
Question Number(s): 50 Question Reference(s): 8094/19
Department: Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Asked by: Thomas Pringle T.D.
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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding illness benefit delays; if consideration is being given to a compensation scheme for those that were financially negatively affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

As the Deputy is aware, payment issues had arisen in relation to the scheme last year when my Department transferred administration of the Illness Benefit scheme from an old legacy IT payments system to its core business IT platform.

Since then, my Department has been working hard to resolve these issues and to ensure that claims are processed and paid promptly.  I believe we have made good progress in this regard, with payment levels maintained at the expected norm for the past number of months. Telephone helpline and call handling performance has also been addressed and is now back to normal levels although customers may still sometimes experience delays due to call volumes.

There has been an increase in claims for Illness benefit in January which reflects the annual increase at this time of year due to seasonal illnesses. While over 9,000 transactions per day are processed, people who are due a payment, and whose medical certificates and claims are in order, receive their payment entitlement promptly.  In stating this, there are always cases, and there were always cases, where people’s payments are legitimately stopped, paused, or delayed for a variety of reasons, including the late submission of medical certificates.

People who experienced an urgent financial need while awaiting an Illness Benefit payment were encouraged to apply to my Department’s Community Welfare Service to receive an interim payment. That avenue remains open to anyone who is adversely affected and the Department will respond sensitively to any case.

ENDS 

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