Courts

Saturday 2 August 2014

Mother with autistic children challenges care allowance decision

Published 22/01/2013|18:43

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A MOTHER-of-three children with autism is challenging the Minister for Social protection’s refusal to pay her a care allowance for one of her children

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Deirdre Sheerin has brought the High Court challenge to the Minister's refusal to pay her the Domiciliary Care Allowance in respect of her youngest child Eadaoin (2).



The payment is made under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 in respect of children who need continual care in excess of the care an attention normally required of a child of the same age.



The Minister in her refusal said that the child did not need extra care and does not qualify for the payment.



However Mrs Sheerin claims that medical reports on Eadaoin's condition submitted in support of their claim, have not been properly considered by the Minister. They say these reports clearly show that the child qualifies for the payments.



In her action, Mrs Sheerin claims the Minister has acted in breach of natural and fair procedures. Mrs Sheerin wants her application remitted back to the Minister for a decision that complies with all the statutory and procedural requirements.



Her counsel Derek Shorthall Bl told the court that all three of Mrs Sheerin’s children had been diagnosed as having autism.



Mrs Sheerin, who along with her husband care for their children applied for the



Counsel said the Sheerin's receive the allowance in respect of the their two older children.



On three occasions last year Mrs Sheerin application for the allowance was refused. The Minister, citing reports from Medical Assessors deemed Eadaoin was not a qualified child because the medical evidence was that she did not require substantially more care and attention.



Following the first refusal Mrs Sheerin, currently on leave from the Garda Siochana to care for her children, submitted reports from a GP on Eadaoin's condition, which stated the child has no sense of danger cannot be left alone at any time, and a consultant.



Counsel said that Mrs Sheerin claims that a medical assessment of her daughter should have been carried out by the Minister given the conflict of evidence between the Minister's medical assessors and the child's GP and the consultant.



Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on a one-side only ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The judge made the matter returnable to a date in February.

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