Local Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden says that further progress needs to be made on tackling the social welfare appeals backlog. Deputy McFadden raised the issue with Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, requesting an update on current efforts to reduce the social welfare appeals backlog.
Deputy McFadden also highlighted the strain the current backlogs are placing on some individuals and families.
“There has been a significant increase in the number of appeals finalised from 17,787 in 2009 to 32,558 in 2012. Minister Burton informed me that processing times have been reduced by 10.3 weeks overall in 2012 with respect to 2011, with time for an oral hearing time down by 13 weeks and the time for summary decision up by 2.7 weeks. However, further improvement is needed to reduce unacceptable delays in the time taken to conclude appeals.
“The chief appeals officer expects to finalise 6,000 more cases in 2013 than in 2012. There is a major programme of process redesign and modernisation currently underway in many scheme areas which will reduce backlogs and will also reduce the time taken for the Department to respond to requests from the appeals office for submissions in relation to appeals,” said Deputy McFadden.
“It is expected that eight additional medical assessors will be appointed in 2013, which will assist in reducing the time taken for appeals where a medical assessment is required. All these measures together should reduce the waiting time for applicants.
“I also want to thank the staff at the Department of Social Protection who are working extremely hard and dealing with very sensitive situations on a daily basis,” she concluded.