Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, has called on Minister Joan Burton to explain why over 60% of applications for the Disability Allowance, Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) and the Invalidity Pension were refused last year.

Deputy O’Dea was speaking after questioning the Minister yesterday about figures which show that 2 out of every 3 applications for the DCA were refused in 2012. This is despite the Minister claiming there has been no change of policy by the Government in relation to administering the applications.

“The figures are there for everyone to see,” said Deputy O’Dea. “There has been a very worrying trend developing in the Department of Social Protection since this Minister assumed office. For instance, nearly 16,000 people in Ireland were refused the Disability Allowance last year, this is a startling statistic.

“Is the Minister really going to stand by her claim that there has not been a directive to reduce the number of these payments being granted? Thousands of families throughout the country have been left devastated by the refusal of their application for these allowances.

“In the last 3 months I have seen a massive upturn in the number of distressed members of the public coming to my constituency office to express their concern at their refused or delayed applications. One such person applied for the Carers Allowance to care for a loved one that had cancer; that family member has since died. Is the Minister seriously saying that someone caring for a dying loved one didn’t deserve to receive the Carers’ Allowance?

“The Minister has also claimed that the average wait to award the Invalidity Pension is 14 to 16 weeks, however in October this was 33 weeks. Is the Minister again seriously claiming that the waiting times for receipt of the allowance were halved in three months?

“I do not understand why Minister Burton would claim this reduction has occurred. All the evidence I have seen points to the contrary. If the Minister has indeed overseen this reduction then she needs to furnish the evidence.”