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Benefit queues and waiting times soar

first_imgNew fast-tracking process introduced AS queues for social welfare benefits continue to grow in Limerick, with the number signing on for Jobseekers payments having shot up by 1,000 in December, the department has admitted that the processing time for claims is longer here than the national average. But is there anything being done about this?Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up In reply to a parliamentary question brought before the Dail recently regarding the waiting time for applicants in Limerick, Minister Mary Hanafin replied: “While I know that processing times are still too long, it should be noted that the additional resources and process improvement measures that have been put in place are having an impact”.The majority of claimants in Limerick are registered in the city, and a representative of the Department of Social and Family Affairs told the Limerick Post that the figure had risen by 50% in the past year from just over 10,000 to almost 15,100, at the Dominic Street office.Niamh Fitzgerald, spokesperson for the department said: “Limerick Social Welfare Local Office had an average processing time of over three weeks for Jobseekers Benefit and over eight weeks for Jobseeer’s Allowance claims during December”.She added that the national average time was over two weeks for Jobseeker’s Benefit, which is based on PRSI contributions, and over six weeks for Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is means test.Ms. Fitzgerald continued: “The length of time it takes to process claims varies and depends not only on the availability of staff in a given office but also on the complexity of the claim”.She added that the department had taken initiatives to cope with the increase in claims for Jobseekers payments.“Since May 2008, some 400 extra staff have been assigned to local offices, new Central Support Units and the Departments Inspectorate. In accordance with Government policy, the majority of these posts were filled by the redeployment of existing civil servants, either within the Department or from other Government Departments”.She pointed out that a number of further measures had been taken to improve claim processing procedures including a streamlined process for people who had a claim in the previous two years, the establishment of a number of central support units around the country, where backlog claims are decided, simplification of the application form and an improved procedure for claimants moving to Jobseekers Allowance when their Jobseeker’s Benefit expires due to PRSI stamps having been used up.There is also to be a new fast- tracking process which involves taking, registering and deciding claims, where possible, in the one dedicated appointment for people coming to make a claim for a Jobseekers payment. This would mean that new and repeat claimants can be cleared in a matter of days.Ms. Fitzgerald explained that anyone who is under financial pressure while awaiting a decision on their claim for a Jobseekers payment can apply to their local health centre for Supplementary Welfare Allowance, subject to means test and qualifying conditions.Recipients of Jobseekers Allowance or Benefit must collect their payment from the Post Office and produce a valid photo ID. Other benefits may be lodged directly into a bank account. Linkedin WhatsApp Previous articleLIT students launch innovative websiteNext articlePipe bombs discovered behind Roxboro Shopping Centre admin Twitter NewsLocal NewsBenefit queues and waiting times soarBy admin – January 29, 2010 556 center_img Advertisement Email Print Facebooklast_img read more