Explanation needed for delays in Illness Benefit
Labour Social Protection spokesperson Ged Nash has called on the Minister for Social Protection to explain the reasons for the major delays people are encountering in illness benefit payments.
Sen. Nash said:
“My own office, and those of many of my Labour colleagues have been inundated over the last week with calls from constituents about payment delays for illness benefit. I’m aware of one case waiting 8 weeks.
“These delays have been going on for some time, but in the last week it seems to have got much worse. In some cases it also appears the payment of the benefit has been stopped to longstanding recipients.
“For example many would have expected their payment last Wednesday but are still waiting.
“It is not clear if this is due to an IT failure or an internal dispute of some kind, and concerns have also been expressed over new forms but no explanation has been provided by the Department or the Minister to those waiting for their illness benefit, which is a social insurance entitlement.
“I’ve been informed that calls haven’t been answered, and email queries are not being responded to.
“The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection urgently needs to provide an explanation, and clarify when the delays will be addressed, and payments issued. A recent question I had tabled to the Minister last week failed to provide any further answers.”
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty) for WRITTEN ANSWER on 04/10/2018 by Jan O’Sullivan.
To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to resolve the dispute between her Department and general practitioners over the recently introduced revised forms in relation to illness benefit applications; if mediation has been offered to address the issue; if discussions are being held with an organisation (details supplied) on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
As part of its ongoing modernization programme, the Department upgraded the Illness Benefit (IB) computer system. Part of that upgrade included redesigning the application form and medical certificate so they could be scanned into the computer system, thereby speeding up payments for customers and GPs alike.
My Department always endeavours to consult with stakeholders before making changes. On this occasion, we consulted with the Irish Medical Organization (IMO) – a longstanding representative body with a broad range of GPs in its membership. In addition, the Department has written to all contracting GPs, setting out the changes involved and will continue to communicate with all panel-holders as the new system beds in.
I want to assure the Deputy that we will continue to consult with the IMO under our Framework Agreement on a range of issues, including e-certification, closed certification and changes to forms.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.