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Social Protection | Expediting appeals against negative decisions in response to applicants for domiciliary care and incorporating their concerns and challenges for their children

To ask the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which appeals against negative decisions in response to applications for domiciliary care allowance can be expedited and incorporate fully the concerns and challenges experienced by parents of children with particular or specific needs as diagnosed by their professional medical/psychiatric expertise, as opposed to a conclusion in many cases that the child needs no more care and attention than any other child of a similar age; and if she will make a statement on the matter.


Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is payable in respect of a child aged under 16, who has a severe disability and requires ongoing continual or continuous care and attention in the home, substantially over and above the care and attention normally required by a child of the same age and the child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months.

Eligibility for DCA is determined primarily and essentially by reference to the degree of ongoing additional care and attention required by the child rather than the child’s disability.  To qualify for DCA, it must be established that the level of care and attention required by the relevant child is substantially in excess of that normally required by children of the same age and likely to be required for at least 12 months as provided for in the governing legislation.  

While an assessment or diagnosis of a specific disability may assist the Department’s deciding officers and medical assessors to make an appropriate decision on entitlement and at the earliest possible date, eligibility for DCA is not based on the type of disability but on the impact of the disability, in terms of the child’s resulting medical and additional care needs.  The assessment process that applies in the consideration of whether a child satisfies the criteria for receipt of DCA includes the examination of all relevant factors identified as impacting on the child’s additional care needs.

All applicants are advised to provide any additional information and/or documentary evidence that is relevant, in support of their DCA application.

It is also open to an applicant to request a review(s) of a deciding officer’s decision and this right is not time limited.  If requesting a review of a deciding officer’s decision, an applicant may forward any further new information or documentary evidence that was not previously available to the deciding officer, for re-consideration.  The right of appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) is normally subject to a 21 day time limit.  However, an applicant also has a further right to subsequently appeal a review decision to the SWAO, including in cases where the original decision remains unchanged following a review(s).

Additionally, as part of the appeals process, all DCA appeal cases, including any further information or evidence that is subsequently provided in support of the appeal, are reviewed by a deciding officer.  If the original decision remains unchanged following the review, the appeal file is forwarded to the SWAO for further consideration by an appeals officer.

The SWAO is an Office of the Department which is independent in its decision-making functions.  It is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare schemes and entitlements, including DCA.  

It is important to note that each appeal case is considered on its own merits.  When an appeal is registered in the SWAO, it is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant departmental papers and comments by the deciding officer on the grounds of appeal be sought.  Once the appeal submission is received from the department, the appeal case is then referred to an appeals officer who will make a summary decision on the case based on the information and evidence presented or, if necessary, hold an oral hearing.

In the interest of customer service and fairness to all appellants, the SWAO generally seeks to deal with appeals in chronological order (date of receipt order).

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

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