Welfare appeals “huge” with 50% wrongly rejected

A “huge” backlog of social welfare appeals was condemned by a Dublin councillor who says 50% of those who appealed last year were wrongly rejected and are successful appealing.

“Many of those whose applications for social welfare payments are turned down are effectively left penniless, creating real hardship,” said Cllr Richard Humphreys, a Labour councillor on Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

He said appeals were now taking up to six months or more to be determined.

But up to half of all appeals (48.2% in 2009) are successful, which he says, “Clearly shows that many applicants are being turned down in the wrong”.

The councillor is calling on the Eamon O Cuiv, Minister for Social Protection, to clear up the backlog by providing extra staff and resources.

“It is unacceptable that those whose social welfare applications have been wrongly turned down are being left penniless for lengthy periods while their appeals are being processed. Minister O Cuiv must provide the staff and resources to ensure that the backlog is cleared and that all appeals are heard and determined within a reasonable period of time.” Humphreys said.

“In my own area, unemployment has surged since the general election, and now stands at 5,487 persons in the Rathfarnham office and 7,963 persons in Dun Laoghaire, as of June 2010 – up from 1681 and 2344 persons respectively in May 2007 – that is an increase of 334% in the offices serving my area alone,” added Humphreys.

Figures show that appeals against decisions of social welfare officers increased 48% between 2008 and 2009, to 25,963 appeals. Humphreys said: “I understand that there are currently in the region of 22,000 appeals waiting determination and that this is likely to increase to more than 30,000 by the end of the year.”

He said the additional Social Welfare staff provided so-far is “nothing like enough to cope with the huge growth in social welfare applications”.

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