A third of jobless waiting up to a year for benefits
Published 14/02/2011 | 05:00
Nearly one in three jobless people who were refused unemployment benefits last year succeeded in having the decision overturned on appeal.
Thousands of jobseekers were wrongly denied payments for up to a year because of massive delays in the social welfare appeals system.
Nearly 11,000 people appealed after their claims for unemployment payments were rejected last year, new figures from the Department of Social Protection show.
The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) said the high success rate of appeals shows there are problems with how claims are handled in the first place, forcing many people to rely on family or friends to tide them over the long wait.
Official figures obtained by the Irish Independent show that jobseekers' appeals are taking an average of 22 weeks to be decided on a summary basis, and the typical wait is 44 weeks for those that go to an oral hearing -- although some are waiting even longer.
The delays mean that some jobless appellants could be out of pocket to the tune of over €8,000 -- based on the typical weekly jobseeker's payment of €188 -- by the time they win their case.
"We are hearing of many cases where people are also denied emergency supplementary welfare payments to keep them going while they await the outcome of lengthy appeals, which means they have to rely on family to keep them going in the meantime," said INOU spokeswoman Brid O'Brien.
High rejection rates for the jobseeker's allowance is a major reason why the numbers on the Live Register have fallen recently, along with emigration and a return to education, she said.
A lot of women and increasingly men are failing to make the transition from jobseeker's benefit (a PRSI-linked payment paid for a year) to means-tested jobseeker's allowance, because their partner's income is deemed too high.
The department said that "in some successful appeals the appellant provided new information or documentation which was not made available or did not come to light during the application".
Its figures show that 1,307 unemployment appeals last year involved jobseeker's benefit, but means-tested jobseeker's allowance was far more contentious, with 9,556 appeals and a 33pc success rate.