Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD has written to the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton requesting a detailed explanation for the surge in rejected applications for the Disability Allowance.
Deputy O’Dea said if stricter criteria have been put in place under the radar, the Minister has a duty to come clean with the public. He was commenting after new figures revealed that 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.
“I have been inundated with calls from my own constituents about applications for the disability allowance that have inexplicably been rejected,” the Limerick TD said. “Many of the cases involve children who were in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance but have now turned 16 only to be suddenly told they are no longer eligible for State support.
“This is causing enormous distress for thousands of families around the country. If it keeps up, the Department of Social Protection is on course to reject 15,000 applications this year. I am concerned that Minister Burton has tightened the criteria behind closed doors in order to reduce spending in her department. If this is the case, it is an underhand tactic that cannot be tolerated.
“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 and thousands of others have been refused the Disability Allowance.
“The Minister must explain exactly what is going on here. I am calling on her to categorically state that there has been no change in the eligibility criteria for the Disability Allowance. I am also asking her Department to publish up to date figures on rejected applications for the Disability Allowance and the Domiciliary Care Allowance.”