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'This is something I could do without' - terminally-ill man misses illness benefit for more than five weeks 'due to admin error'


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The Department of Social Protection has apologised to a man with terminal cancer after it mistakenly took away his illness benefit.

Since November, James McCarthy has been struggling enormously to pay for the medication that is vastly increasing his quality of life. 

The Cork native told Joe Duffy on RTE Radio One's Liveline today that he has worked all his life until he became terminally ill. He left his job on September 1 and is now living with brain cancer, which he says is inoperable.

But although he had been in receipt of illness benefit, Mr McCarthy has not received a payment since November 4. 

He has been sending the correct documentation to his welfare office and has been in touch with the Illness Benefit office on a weekly basis.

Although he was told that his case would be escalated and dealt with immediately, Mr McCarthy is still out of payment six weeks later.

"I have been in contact with them weekly and handed in my certs religiously into my own local welfare office," he said.

Without treatment, James said he wants to enjoy what time he has left. He said his medication is expensive and the benefit had helped to contribute to those costs. 

"I'm not in a position to work now," he said.

"It would help me with my medication which is quite expensive. I feel that I'm entitled to it, I worked all my life and it would be of great benefit to me.

"This is something I could do without," he said. 

After contacting Liveline, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said it would like to "sincerely to apologise" to Mr McCarthy.

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"We have investigated the matter and identified an error which has now been corrected," a spokesperson said. 

"Full payment including arrears have been arranged and will be in Mr. McCarthy’s account by early next week. 

"The Department wishes to confirm that it is making its normal level of weekly payments for Illness Benefit – 50,000 per week. 

"Regrettably, however, occasionally as with all schemes, we do have administrative errors which result in non-timely payments to our customers.  

"We endeavour to always deliver a good service to our customers."

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