(Based on material in DAO Bulletin Number 5 issued June 1999)
Table of Contents
DAO Remarks on Regulations
Applying the Provisions
Recording the Decision
Grounds and Reasons
Template Letter of Notification
Example: Reasons for "Not GSW" and "Not Available" Decisions.
Appendix - Letter of Notification
Article 191 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 (as amended) [ S.I. No. 142 of 2007] provide that decisions on social welfare 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:
Decision of deciding officer.
191. (1) The decision of a deciding officer shall be in writing and signed by him or her.
(2) Where the decision of the deciding officer is not in favour of the person, the deciding officer shall set out in writing the reasons for the said decision.
(3) Subject to sub article (4), the Minister shall, as soon as may be after the decision is made, cause a memorandum of
- the decision, and
- where it is not in favour of the person, the reasons for the said decision, to issue to the person.
(4) In the case of a decision arising under section 300(2)(a), other than decisions arising under sub paragraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) of that section, the Minister shall, as soon as may be after the decision is made, cause a memorandum of -
- the decision, and
- the reasons for the said decision,
to issue to the parties who are subject to the decision.
2. DAO Remarks on Regulations
The Deciding Officer must sign his/her name in full - written or electronic signature required ( initials not sufficient) name typed or written in capitals underneath.
Article 191 in line with other associated legislation and defines legislative term of ‘writing’ as follows:
- Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Systems in this Department allows the use of electronic signatures for records and decisions;
- Article 191 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 (as amended) – S.I. No. 142 of 2007 refers to decisions being in writing and signed;
- 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;
- 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";
- 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.
This requires the Deciding Officer to set out his/her reasons for the decision as part of that decision.
Sub-articles 3 & 4:
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.
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.
The 'other' sub-paragraphs refer to decisions on insurability i.e. Scope decisions where both the employee and employer may be subject to the decision.
3. Applying the Provisions
Under the Regulations, the Deciding Officer 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 Deciding Officer'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 Deciding Officer 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.
The person concerned is not entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit on the grounds that she is not available for employment. The reason for this decision is that she is placing unreasonable restrictions on the nature of the employment she is prepared to accept.
The person concerned is not entitled to Illness Benefit on the grounds that he does not satisfy the contribution condition which requires him to have a minimum of 39 paid or credited contributions in the Governing Contribution Year 1997/98. The reason for this decision is that, according to the Department's records, he had a total of 27 contributions (paid and credited) in 1997/98.
The person concerned is not entitled to Carer's Allowance 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 means limit appropriate in her case.
( Note: In farm cases, the reasons for decision include the data on form IN 93, detailing the farm assessment.)
6. Template Letter of Notification
The letter or form used in notifying a person of an adverse decision should include sufficent information to enable him/her to understand the reason for the decision and what steps s/he can take if not satisfied. The template letter (See appendix below) sets out the various elements that should normally be included in the notification.
Note in particular:
- Include the 5th and 8th paragraphs only if relevant
- Give grounds and reasons for the decision
- Enclose Information Leaflet or extract from Guidelines as appropriate
- Invite person to submit further evidence to you before appeal.
7. PRE-Printed Forms
Where notification of decisions on claims is made by means of pre-printed [stencilled] forms, the forms should incorporate the various elements of the template reply shown on page 3. Where this is not practicable, a suitable letter should issue instead e.g. in non- straightforward cases.
- Check that form is not out-of-date
- Write clearly
- Complete all parts of the form
- Tick the relevant box(es) clearly
- Give full and coherent reasons for the decision
- Sign with your full signature (not initials)
- Keep a copy.
Example: Reasons for "Not GSW" and "Not Available" Decisions.
"You are not entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit/Jobseeker's Allowance on the grounds that you are not genuinely seeking work and/or not available for employment. The reason for this decision is that in the period ____ to ____ :
* you have not taken reasonable steps which offer you the best prospects of obtaining employment; in particular you have not taken the following steps:
- you have not applied for employment to persons who have advertised the availability of employment suitable to you, or who appear to be in a position to offer employment
- you have not sought information on the availability of employment from employers, advertisements, persons who have placed advertisements which indicate that employment is available, or employment agencies
- you have not availed of reasonable opportunities for training which is suitable to your circumstances
- you have not acted on advice given by an officer of the Minister, or by FAS, or other placement service concerning the availability of employment
- you have not taken steps towards establishing yourself in self-employment"
" you have voluntarily moved from a location with higher job prospects in circumstances which indicate that you are not genuinely seeking work."
" you have refused an offer of
- suitable training
- suitable employment
in circumstances which indicate that you are not genuinely seeking work."
" you have left employment in circumstances which indicate that you are not genuinely seeking work."
" you have not produced sufficient evidence
- that you are seeking work from employers where it is most likely to be available.
- that you have been consistently seeking work."
" you have not produced sufficient evidence to show that you are genuinely seeking work."
" you have chosen to reside in an area where there are little or no obvious job opportunities for your particular job qualifications or there is no means of travelling to work daily
" having regard to your previous employment history/educational qualifications/limited ability to communicate in English, your decision to come to Ireland/choice of place of residence in Ireland is not consistent with a genuine search for work."
" you are not free to take up employment because of passport/visa restrictions."
" you have refused an offer of suitable training in circumstances which indicate that you are not available for work."
" you are engaging in:
- part-time employment
- a course of study (see case 84)
which restricts your availability for suitable full-time employment."
" you have placed unreasonable restrictions on
- the nature of the employment
- the hours of work
- the rate of remuneration
- the duration of the employment
- the location of the employment
- other conditions of employment that you are prepared to accept.
" you have given up employment in circumstances which indicate that you are not available for full-time work."
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
Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms (Use surname not First name)
In relation to your claim to .... made on ......, it has been decided by a Deciding 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. 28 paid contributions in GCY.)
The enclosed leaflet gives more details about this condition.
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 Deciding Officer.
(offer a pre appeal review)
If you are not satisfied with the Deciding Officer's decision (either before or after seeking a review by a deciding officer), 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)
In making a decision the Appeals Officer is subject to the same legislation as the Deciding Officer. So for your appeal to have any prospect of being successful, you would have to show that the Department's records relating to your contributions are incorrect and that you do have sufficient contributions to qualify.
(Include this paragraph only in cases where the decision is based solely on the contribution record of the person.)
If you are in financial need you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. You can get full details of this allowance from your local Community Welfare Officer based at your local health centre.
(Advise about SWA)
Signature - written or electronic signature (initials not sufficient) name typed or written in capitals underneath.