Reasons for Decisions for Designated Persons


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Reasons for Decisions for Designated Persons

(formerly known as Community Welfare Officers)

1. Regulations

Article 40 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Supplementary Welfare Allowance) Regulations 2007 (as amended) [ S.I. No. 412 of 2007] provide that decisions on Supplementary Welfare Allowance claims must be set out in writing and, where the decision is unfavourable, the reasons for the decision must also be recorded and included in the notification to the person concerned.

The following is the relevant extract from the Regulations:

Determination of Designated Person.

40. (1) A determination by a designated person for the purposes of determining a claim to supplementary welfare allowance shall be in writing and signed by him or her.

      (2) Where any determination made by a designated person is not in favour of the  person making the claim, the designated person shall attach to the determination a note of the reasons for the said determination.

      (3) The Minister shall, as soon as may be after the making of the determination, cause a memorandum of—

  • (a) the determination, and
  • (b) where in accordance with sub-article (2) of this article the determination is not in  favour of the person, the reasons for the said determination, to be issued to the person making the claim.

2. DAO Remarks on Regulations

Sub-article 1:

The Designated Person must sign his/her name in full - written or electronic signature required (initials not sufficient) name typed or written in capitals underneath.

This use of an electronic signature as a signature for a record or a decision is permitted under legislation by the following Acts:

1. The Electronic Commerce Act 2000

  • The Electronic Commerce Act 2000 allows reference to writing to include electronic storage and allows the use of an electronic (digital) signature;
  • This Act provides that, in other Acts, reference to writing shall include electronic modes of representing or reproducing words in electronic form;
  • Section 13 of the Electronic Commerce Act 2000 contains a provision for the use in certain circumstances of electronic signatures. Where the signature of a person or public body is required or permitted an electronic signature may be used.

2. The Interpretation Act 2005

Part 1 of the Schedule to the Interpretation Act 2005 defines "writing" as including "…other modes of representing or reproducing words in visible form and any information kept in a non-legible form whether stored electronically or otherwise, which is capable by any means of being produced in a legible form";

Sub-article 2:

This requires the Designated Person to set out his/her reasons for the decision as part of that decision.

Sub-articles 3

Issue of a notification with the decision and reasons combined therein will constitute a 'memorandum' for this purpose i.e. a separate page with the reasons is not required.

DPs should note that Sub-Article (1) requires that the decision be signed but Sub-Article (3) does not require that the memorandum to the customer be signed.

System generated letters from the Department are not necessarily signed.

Sub-article 3(b):

Where the decision is favourable to the claimant, the reason(s) for it do not require to be given. However, it may be appropriate to give reasons for favourable decisions in certain circumstances.

3. Applying the Provisions

Under the Regulations, the Designated Person is required to:

  • keep a written record of the decision
  • record the reasons if the decision is unfavourable
  • notify the person in writing of the decision and, if unfavourable, of the reasons.

4. Recording the Decision

Where the decision is unfavourable, the Designated Person's record should show:

  • the grounds of disallowance or disqualification, or for the reduction in payment
  • if more than one ground of disallowance and or disqualification, record each one
  • the reason(s) for the decision
  • all relevant facts and evidence.

The record must be dated and signed in full - written or electronic signature (initials not sufficient) name of the Designated Person typed/written in capitals.

5. Grounds and Reasons

A distinction needs to be made between these two terms. The 'grounds' for a decision consist of the relevant condition in the legislation that is not satisfied. The 'reason(s)' for the decision explain why that condition is not satisfied.

Example 1

The person concerned is not entitled to SWA Basi on the grounds that she does not satisfy the means test. The reason for this decision is that her means derived from her spouse's earnings are in excess of x which is the SWA rate appropriate in her case.
 

Example 2

The person concerned is not entitled to SWA Rent Supplement on the grounds that she is debarred from SWA. The reason for this decision is that her spouse/civil Partner/Cohabitant is in full-time work. 

6. Sample Letter of Notification

The letter or form used in notifying a person of an adverse decision should include sufficient information to enable him/her to understand the reason for the decision and what steps s/he can take if not satisfied. The sample letter sets out the various elements that should normally be included in the notification.

Note in particular:

  • Include the 5th paragraph only if relevant
  •  Include either the 6th or 7th paragraph (whichever is appropriate)
  • Give grounds and reasons for the decision
  • Enclose extract from SWA Guidelines as appropriate
  • Invite person to submit further evidence to you before appeal.

(Note: Sample letters of notification should be available in all Scheme Areas. For local office schemes please refer to:  Regional Support Unit Stór page / 'RSU Manuals & Guides' / 'Decisions & Disallowances')

7. Limitations on release of personal data

Data Protection legislation places some limitation on the release of personal data. When notifying a person of a decision, you should be conscious of the need not to release data relevant to a third party, unless it is clear that they are aware of this and agree to it.

It may be relatively rare for it to arise that you are making your decision based on information from a third party who has not provided this information to the customer, but here are some examples.

Example 1: Joe (aged 19) applies for Basi SWA. On the application form he states that both his parents (with whom he lives) are  employed, but he doesn’t have their earnings. However, his parents are prepared to give this data directly to the Department, on the understanding that the details are not given to Joe. The DP decides that Joe does not satisfy the means test, due to B&P. Releasing the full details of the means assessment in this case would be in conflict with Data Protection legislation. Joe may be advised that he does not satisfy the means test, but the details of his parents’ earnings may not be released.

Example 2: Brian and Mary are married. Brian applies for Basi SWA. On the form, he says that he does not have information regarding Mary’s bank accounts, as they had always kept part of their finances separate. Mary agrees to send the details to DEASP, for the purposes of assessing their claim, on condition that the details of her savings are not released to Brian. The DP decides that they qualify for a reduced rate of Basi SWA due to the money in Mary’s accounts. In notifying the decision to Brian, the DP can indicate that the reduced rate is due to the means test, but the DP cannot give information regarding the amount of money held by Mary.

Appendix - Letter of Notification

The letter below shows the various elements that should be included when you are notifying a person about an unfavourable decision.

_____________________________________________________________________

(Letter headed paper if available)

Person's name, Address, PPSN No, Address of Section (Include if not pre-printed)

Quote Reference Number if relevant, Telephone No, Fax Number

Date

Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms (Use surname not First name)

In relation to your claim for .... made on ......, it has been decided by a Designated Person (formerly known as Community Welfare Officer) that you are not entitled to ..... [with effect] from ....to ..... on the grounds that you .....(see above re Grounds and Reasons)

The reason(s) for this decision is that you .....

The position in your case is that ....
(give factual explanation, e.g. as you are in full-time work, you have no entitlement to Rent supplement.)

In reaching this decision, the points made by you in your letter of ... were taken into account.(Include this paragraph only if a person has put forward a case.)

If you consider this decision is incorrect, it is open to you to send any further documentary evidence that you think is relevant to your case to this Office and the decision will be reviewed by the Designated Person.(offer a pre appeal review)

(This paragraph to be used for SWA Basi & Supplement claims)
If you are not satisfied with the Designated Person's decision (either before or after seeking a review by a him/her), you may appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office by writing to the Chief Appeals Officer, D'Olier House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2, within 21 days of the date of this letter. A form for this purpose is available at this office. (right of appeal must always be included)

(This paragraph to be used for SWA ENP, UNP & Allowances in Kind claims)
If you are not satisfied with the Designated Person's decision (either before or after seeking a review by the Designated Person), you may have it reviewed by a Review Officer by writing to - Review Officer (insert Review Officers address here) within 21 days of the date of this letter. (right of Review must always be included)

Yours sincerely

________________

(Print Name)
Designated Person

_____________________________________________________________________

Last modified:14/08/2017