In a statement and in Leaders questions this morning, Richard Boyd Barrett TD raised the increase in Invalidity pension refusals since the present government took office.
Deputy Boyd Barrett accused the Minister of engaging in the systematic refusals of disabled people with chronic illnesses their rightful entitlement to Invalidity Pensions.
Deputy Boyd Barrett also said the dramatic increase in refusals has led to an equally dramatic increase in the number of appeals and unacceptably long waiting times for those appeals and claimed the appeals office is totally over-run.
Minister Burton once again sought to blame Fianna Fáil but it is clear from information received in answer to a parliamentary question that the dramatic increase in refusals has occurred since Labour and Fine Gael have been in government.
Richard Boyd Barrett said, “It is absolutely clear from the figures provided by the Minister in answer to a parliamentary question last week that there is a systematic policy of first stop refusals. Figures clearly show that since this government came to office that the refusal rate for invalidity pensions has risen from 39% in 2009 to 69% in 2011 and 64% in 2012. In other words, two thirds of those applying are refused at the stroke of a pen.”
“What this means is that medical testimony by GPs and consultants is being dismissed and thousands of applicants are being forced to go through the lengthy appeals process in the hope that they will just go away”.
“ The figures show that there has been a 700% increase in the number of appeals with just 642 appeals lodged in 2099 compared to 4,465 appeals lodged in 2012. Of those appeals only 1,517 have received decisions which leaves 4,356 appeals undecided.”
“My clinic has been inundated with people in desperate situations, clearly unable to work and being left waiting for over a year for a decision with the knock on effect of not being able to pay rent. One example is a former bin man who after 40 years in that job has chronic rheumatoid arthritis and knee and back problems. His application for Invalidity pension was refused and he was told to apply for job seekers allowance when he is clearly unable to work”.
“It is utterly disingenuous for the Minister to credit herself for how her department has dealt with a similar issue in the refusal of Domiciliary Care Allowance refusals and appeals. The only reason the Minister made improvements is because thousands of special needs families took to the streets last year and embarrassed the government over their mistreatment of some of the most vulnerable of our citizens”.
Additional Information: Answer to parliamentary question
Question No: 138 Ref No: 3166-13
To the Minister for Social Protection
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide details of numbers of persons who applied for invalidity pension; numbers of those who were refused and those who were granted in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012; of those who were refused the numbers who appealed the decision and the numbers who were successful and unsuccessful in those appeals.
– Richard Boyd Barrett
R E P L Y
Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):