Social Welfare Appeals

.

 .

Social Welfare Appeals

The INOU offers a free, impartial and confidential Appeals support service for people who wish to appeal the refusal/stopping of their Social Welfare payment.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department which functions independently of the Minister and the Department in arriving at its decisions. It was established to provide an appeals service to persons who are unhappy with decisions of:

  • Deciding Officers of  the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on questions relating to entitlement to social welfare payments and insurability of employment under the Social Welfare Acts,

and

  • Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Representatives, formerly known as a Community Welfare Officers (CWO), on questions relating to entitlement to certain Supplementary Welfare Allowance payments.

The Appeals Office is headed by a Chief Appeals Officer and it has its own Appeals Officers. An Appeals Officer is independent of the Department of Social Protection and will look decisions made by the department where a formal Appeal has been lodged with the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Appeals Officer will seek to determine if any decision reached by a Deciding Officer (DO) or Designated Person (DP) has been made in a reasonable way and in accordance with the legislation.

  • Appeals Officers can determine if your application for a payment, or any decision received, is appropriate, adheres to and is in keeping with the Department’s guidelines and legislation.
  • Appeals Officers must decide cases in accordance with the social welfare legislation, as applied to the facts before them in each individual case.
  • Appeals Officers are not bound by guidelines drawn up by the Department for its Deciding Officers/Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection representatives.
  

The Appeals System

The Social Welfare Appeals service is available to you if you consider a decision made by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on questions relating to your entitlement to social welfare payments, or certain Supplementary Welfare Allowance payments, is incorrect.

If you think you have been wrongly refused a social welfare payment, or certain Supplementary Welfare Allowance paynments, you may be able to appeal this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office .

The Social Welfare Appeals service is available to you if you consider that a decision of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is incorrect in that they:

  • refused or suspended your Social Welfare /  Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) payment
  • reduced your Jobseekers payment to a Penalty Rate of payment without good cause or just reason
  • assessed an Overpayment against you in relation to an existing or previous Social Welfare / Supplementary Welfare Allowance payment, and the Department of Social Protection are seeking to recover monies that you do not believe they are owed
  • refused payment on the grounds that you did not satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC)

- Decisions in Writing

The officials who make decisions about your claim at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are known as Deciding Officers (DO) or Designated Persons (DP).

You are entitled to receive a decision in writing outlining the decision made and the grounds for that decision. If you do not automatically recieve a decision in writing, you should contact either the Deciding Officer (DO) or Designated Persons (DP) who made the decision, and ask for the decision in writing.

>>back to top

What can be Appealed?

Not all Social Welfare schemes can be appealed, contact the INOU for more information.

Decisions relating to some of Department of Social Protection Schemes which can be appealed include:

  • Jobseeker’s Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Disability Allowance
  • Illness Benefit
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Carer’s Benefit
  • One Parent Family Payment
  • Child Benefit
  • Family Income Supplement (FIS)
  • Habitual Residence Condition (HRC)
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA)
    • Basic Allowance
    • Rent and Mortgage Interest Supplement

This is not an exhaustive list, please contact the INOU for more information if your payment is not on this list.

>>back to top

Schemes that Cannot be Appealed

 If the payment or scheme you wish to appeal is not covered by the Social Welfare Appeals Office, you can ask for a  review of the decision by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, but you cannot make a formal appeal.

If you require information on the process or procedure in requesting a review, or if you would like assistance in preparing and submitting your review to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection please contact the INOU .

>>back to top

- Penalty Rates and Recovery of Overpayments

Jobseeker's Allowance:

If your Jobseeker's Allowance payment has been reduced to a penalty rate of payment you cannot appeal the actual reduced rate of payment, but you may be able to appeal the grounds on which that penalty rate has been applied to you 

Recovery of Overpayments:

If you have been asked to repay money because of an overpayment you can seek a review of the amount the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection claim you owe them and you may also be able to appeal the grounds upon which the decision was made

 

The people who make decisions about your claim at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are known as ‘Deciding Officers’. If you are unhappy with a decision made on your claim, you have a number of options in seeking to address and resolve the problem or issue.

>>back to top

 

Asking for a Review of a Decision

Before lodging an appeal you should check to see if you have sufficient grounds to make an Appeal as a formal Appeal may not be necessary in all cases.

In some instances seeking a review of a decision may offer a more practical and appropriate resolution without the need for formal appeal.

You have the right to ask the Deciding Officer (DO) or Designated Person (DP) to review their original decision, and receive a fair and unbiased review, if:

  • You have new or additional information which was not available to you or the Deciding Officer at the time of the original decision, which if had been available at the time of the original decision you feel may have resulted in a different decision.
  • The stated interpretation of the facts or information you provided which are contained in the Deciding Officers decision are ‘subjectively’ incorrect and need clarification
  • The decision of the Deciding Officer is factually incorrect or inaccurate based on matter of fact.

The Deciding Officer / Designated Person must adhere to Departmental guidelines and to legislation when making a decision on your claim. They must also act in a manner which applies due process, natural justice and fair procedure in reviewing the original decision.

Copies of the Department’s guidelines are available on the Department's website ( www.welfare.ie ) in the Freedom of Information section.

Where appropriate, you should always ask the original Deciding Officer to review their decision before making an official appeal to the Appeals Office.

If the review process is unsuccessful you may wish to consider making a formal appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

- Seeking a review where a Payment/Scheme cannot be Appealed

If the payment or scheme you wish to appeal is not covered by the Social Welfare Appeals process you may request a review of the original decision by the Deciding Officers (DO) or Designated Persons (DP).

 

The type of payment and amount you receive will depend on your individual circumstances. You may qualify for a weekly means tested payment to support you and your family and/or continued support of payment for Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement.

If you are refused assistance by means of a weekly payment or payment towards your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement you may seek a review of the decision or appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. You should ask the DSP official for a copy of any decision, in writing, which sets out the grounds for the refusal of your payment under the SWA regulations.

Social Welfare Appeals

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department which functions independently of the Minister and the Department in arriving at its decisions. It was established to provide an appeals service to persons who are unhappy with decisions of:

  • Deciding Officers of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on questions relating to entitlement to social welfare payments and insurability of employment under the Social Welfare Acts,

and

  • Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection representatives, formerly known as a Community Welfare Officers (CWO), on questions relating to entitlement to certain Supplementary Welfare Allowance payments.

The Office is headed by a Chief Appeals Officer and has its own Appeals Officers. An Appeals Officer is independent of the Department and will look at your claim to make sure that the decision has been made in a reasonable way and in accordance with the legislation. Appeals Officers can determine if your application for a payment, or any decision received, is appropriate, adheres to and is in keeping with the Department’s guidelines and legislation. Appeals Officers must decide cases in accordance with the social welfare legislation, as applied to the facts before them in each individual case. Appeals Officers are not bound by guidelines drawn up by the Department for its Deciding Officers/Department of Social Protection representatives.

 

Types of Social Welfare Appeals

 

Summary Decision

An Appeals Officer may decide that a decision can be made on the basis of the written evidence provided.  This is called a summary decision .  Summary decisions are made when the circumstances are clear, simple and appropriately supported with relevant documentation. They are processed faster than oral hearings.

Oral Hearing

Where there is a conflict in the evidence presented or where the Appeals Officer agrees that the appellant should be given the opportunity to present their case in person, the Appeals Officer may decide to convene an oral hearing to which you will be invited to attend.

An oral hearing allows you to attend the appeal hearing with the opportunity to present your case and answer questions to the Appeals Officer. With the consent of the Appeals Officer, you may also have the opportunity to interact with Department officials and witnesses, and respond to information or evidence submitted.

  You can request that your appeal be held as an Oral Hearing.  In doing so, you should give the reasons why you consider your case requires an oral hearing on the appeal form.

However it is a matter for the Appeals Officer to decide whether an appeal can be decided by summary decision or whether an oral hearing is required.

 

Representation at Social Welfare Appeal Hearings

You may bring a representative to accompany you and assist you at an appeal hearing. This could be:

  • a friend
  • colleague
  • public representative (TD/Councillor)
  • trade union official
  • legal representative.

You are free to bring legal representation if you wish, this is not a requirement. You may incur costs if you decide to use a legal representative.

If you have to travel to attend a hearing, the Social Welfare Appeals Office maycompensate you for any reasonable travel expenses. You can also be compensated for any loss of earnings if you have to take time off work to attend. The Social Welfare Appeals Office may make an award to a representative such as a solicitor if they accompany you to the appeal.

Payment while appealing a decision

If you have lodged an appeal and you are waiting on a hearing, or a decision, from the Social Welfare Appeals Office you may be entitled to claim a basic weekly payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Representative formerly known as a Community Welfare Officers (CWO).

The type of payment and amount you receive will depend on your individual circumstances. You may qualify for a weekly means tested payment to support you and your family and/or continued support of payment for Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement. If you are refused a Basic Weekly payment under the SWA scheme pending the processing or outcome of your appeal you should:

  • Ask for the decision in writing, you are entitled to receive this.
  • Submit a request, preferably in writing, to the DSP Representative asking for a review of their original decision based on all the relevant information and facts available.
  • If your request for a review is refused or if the review is unsuccessful you can lodge an appeal with the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
  • If you lodge an appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office you can make a request for a Basic Weekly payment under the SWA scheme pending the outcome of your appeal.
  • If you are refused a payment, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may be able to make a claim for themselves and any dependent children in their own right.

If you are awaiting the processing or outcome of an Appeal with the Social Welfare Appeals Office and you have insufficient income to meet your needs you can apply for an SWA Exceptional or Urgent Needs payment from the DSP Representative.

An Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) is a once-off payment to meet an unforeseen or special need that cannot be met from a person’s basic income. Assistance in the form of an Urgent Needs Payment (UNP) can also be made to persons who would not normally be entitled to SWA, to assist, for example in cases of flood damage with immediate needs such as food, clothing, fuel, household goods and perhaps shelter.

 

Practical Steps in making your Appeal

If possible, contact the INOU for assistance before you lodge your appeal.

  • Appeal within 21 days of receiving the Deciding Officer’s decision.
  • You can ask for your appeal to be held as an oral hearing, this is done by simply writing‘ I wish to have my appeal held as an oral hearing’
  • When going to an oral hearing, you can bring a friend or advice worker to provide support or help you present your case. You do not have to have a solicitor to represent you, but can if you wish. Your local Resource Centre may be able to make the appeal on your behalf.
  • Collect all evidence supporting your appeal and bring witnesses who can provide evidence.
  • You should always keep copies of all the correspondence you have had with the Department and the Appeals Office – especially the original appeals form (both sides of it).
  • You should request a copy of your Social Welfare file, and all the documentation relating to your case, from the Social Welfare Office that dealt with your claim. Ask for this in writing under the Freedom of Information Act when making the request. You are legally entitled to any information the Department has used in deciding your case. 
  • You should meet with your representative/advisor regularly to review and update your case. Write down everything that appears relevant. Get as much supporting evidence or material as possible – the more prepared you are for the appeal the better chance you have of winning it. 

Social Welfare Appeals Customer Charter

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is committed to providing an independent, accessible and fair welfare appeals service to its customers in a prompt and courteous manner. In support of this committment it operates under a Customer Charter.

 

>> back to top

Appeals CaseBase - CLM

Community Law and Mediation established Casebase in 2006 which is an anonymised database of social welfare appeal decisions which aims to encourage consistency within the social welfare appeals system and to assist NGO’s and appellants in taking cases to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Casebase can be accessed by clicking here. CaseBase - Community Law and Mediation.

 

>> back to top

Contact Us:

- Telephone:

You can speak, in complete confidence, to an Information Officer in the Information and Advocacy section directly at 01 - 856 0088 , Monday - Friday 9.30 am to 5.00 pm.

- Online:

Use the online Contact Us form on the INOU website - click here

- E-mail:

You can send your query directly to us by e-mail at welfare@inou.ie 

 

 

Last Updated: 26/09/2017