Illness benefit fiasco causing huge distress – Smyth

NIAMH PROFILE– Second major issue to hit payments in recent months –

Fianna Fáil TD for Niamh Smyth has called on the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection to take charge of her Department following another glitch in illness benefit payments.

This latest gaffe is as a result of a new automated system, which had been failing to record forms.

Deputy Smyth, “The delays in illness benefit payments are completely unacceptable.  Earlier this summer there was a dispute between GPs and the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection with regard to the relevant forms and now we have a technical glitch which is further delaying these payments.  It’s a farcical situation.

“My office has been inundated with calls from people who are either not receiving their payments or who are receiving only partial payments.  I dealt with one man who had been signed off work until November, and received no illness benefit for a fortnight.  He had a mortgage and other living costs and was put under severe financial pressure as a result of the missed payments.

“I have also had issues getting in touch with officials on the dedicated phoneline.  It is obvious that they are dealing with a huge volume of queries and complaints.

“I welcome Minister Regina Doherty’s commitment to allocate additional staff to the section but I would also like assurances that the new system will be monitored to ensure that more issues do not arise in the future”.

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