Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, has called on Minster Joan Burton, to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection to explain the latest shocking statistics on waiting times for social welfare payments.

Deputy O’Dea’s call comes after figures released by Minister’s Burton’s Department this week reveal that some families have been waiting over a year to have their appeals for various state supports heard. This follows further evidence that confirms three out of every five applications for the Disability Allowance are being rejected.

“This week we found out that 4,169 people nationwide are waiting to have their appeals heard for the Disability Allowance, 2,513 of these have been waiting for more than 4 months, and 321 people are waiting for more than a year.  In addition to this there are 1,635 people waiting to have their appeals for the Carer’s Allowance processed, with more than 900 of these waiting for over 4 months and 113 people waiting for over a year,” said Deputy O’Dea

“During the summer, 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 the Disability Allowance have been rejected. Between January and April, the Department of Social Protection turned down 4,823 applications, this represents a 61% refusal rate, up from 54% in 2010.

“The Minister’s response to my concerns was 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.

“This Government has consistently attacked supports for young people with disabilities since coming into office and they have been forced into a series of row-backs and ‘reviews’.

“Minister Burton needs to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection to fully explain why thousands of families are waiting so long to have their appeals heard and why so many applications are being rejected in the first place. The Minister maintains that the eligibility criteria has not changed but in two years the refusal rate has jumped up by almost 10%.

“The Government has taken an incredibly cold hearted approach to these allowances. This is placing a massive amount of stress on families and the least they deserve is an upfront and honest explanation from the Minister as to why they are waiting up to a year to hear their case.”