Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, says Minister Joan Burton continues to mislead people over the huge refusal rates for the Disability Allowance.
Deputy O’Dea was responding to comments by Minister Burton that there has been no change in criteria or conditions in the application process for the allowance.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “Last week I requested a detailed explanation from Minister Burton about the surge in people being rejected for the Disability Allowance as well delays for up to 12 months on processing applications.
“The facts are there for all to see, three out of every five applications for Disability Allowance have been rejected since the start of this year. Between January and April, the Department of Social Protection turned down 4,823 applications.
“The Minister’s response to my concerns has been to say that the department is changing computer systems. I find this totally unacceptable. Minister Burton is misleading the public and treating those who are seeking the allowance with contempt. The stats do not lie, the refusal rate for initial applications for the Disability Allowance rose from 54% in 2010 to 61% of applications being refused in the first quarter of this year.
“It is plainly obvious that something has changed here and the situation is made all the more distressing for those in desperate need of the allowance because they are not being told the truth here. This is all part of an underhanded pattern to refuse people their allowances, thinking it will pass under the radar. The Department of Social Protection is now on course to reject 15,000 applications this year.
“This Government has consistently attacked supports for young people with disabilities since coming into office and Minister Burton has been forced into a series of row-backs and ‘reviews’. Meanwhile, thousands of children with intellectual disabilities have inexplicably lost their Domiciliary Care Allowance over the past year.
“The Government has taken an incredibly cold hearted approach to these allowances. The savage cuts to the Domiciliary Care Allowance, the cuts to Special Needs Assistants, the surge in rejected applications for the Disability Allowance, and the cuts to the Family Income Supplement have left families across the country under enormous pressure.
“We now see waiting times for the Carer’s Allowance rising to almost 12 months, again the Minister needs to answer questions about this hugely worrying situation. I am calling on the Minister to be upfront on this and reveal what has changed in her Department. If the criteria has changed the least people deserve is an explanation as to why they have been refused their allowances or why they are waiting 40 weeks for their applications to be processed.”