Claims for Social Welfare payments are decided by Deciding Officers appointed under the provisions of Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated) Act 2005.
Claims may be decided by a Deciding Officer following any one of the processes set out hereunder:
- summarily without investigation - on the basis of the information furnished on the claim;
- after examination and interview by a Social Welfare Inspector in the Local Office; or
- following an in depth investigation by a Social Welfare Inspector. This may involve the Social Welfare Inspector interviewing the claimant in his/her home.
In general summary decisions are made in the less complex cases based on the person's employment history and family circumstances. Summary decisions can be made in cases where entitlement is based solely on the person fulfilling prescribed contribution conditions e.g. in the case of State Pension Conributory or Jobseeker's Benefit. Summary decisions can also be made in some Jobseeker's Allowance cases where, for example, the person was previously dependant on his/her spouse (partner) or parents. In such cases means are determined by reference to documentation furnished by the claimant such as wage slips, rent books and statements from financial institutions.
At claim stage an officer based in the local office will, in Jobseeker's Allowance cases, determine if it can be decided summarily or if it is appropriate for referral to a Social Welfare Inspector to interview the customer. Where it is decided that an Inspector should interview the customer the local officer dealing with the application will, normally, indicate to the Inspector whether a desk assessment or home interview is warranted. The customer might be interviewed in his/her home where, for example, a history of self employment or periods of casual short-term employment was involved or again if supporting evidence needs to be verified. In other cases the Inspector will be satisfied, after examining the case and interviewing the customer in the Local Office, that s/he can submit a report on means to the Deciding Officer and that there is no need for a visit to the customer's home at that stage. However all such cases are subject to review and the Inspector may call to the person's home at a later stage.
The less complex claims for One Parent Family Payments are decided by a Deciding Officer in the Social Welfare Services Office, without immediate referral to a Social Welfare Inspector. However apart from routine Jobseeker's Allowance cases the majority of means based social welfare pensions and allowances are determined after the customer has been visited by a Social Welfare Inspector.