Woman successfully resolves ‘test’ action over domiciliary care allowance refusal

Case could have implications for large number of social welfare appeals

The mother of a child with serious medical conditions has successfully resolved her High Court challenge over the State’s refusal to pay her the domiciliary care allowance.

In what was considered an important “test” case, which may have implications for a large number of social welfare appeals that have been declined, the Social Welfare Appeals Office agreed the refusal could be quashed.

The woman, who cannot be named due to a court order, claims her young daughter requires full-time care due to her rare and challenging medical conditions.

The mother claimed her applications for the allowance were first refused by the Department of Social Protection and twice by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on appeal.

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In her judicial review proceedings against the appeal office, the woman claimed the decisions to reject her appeal were flawed and in “serious breach” of fair procedures.

The mother had claimed the Minister for Social Protection had wrongly included reports about her daughter from a medical assessor when it transferred the file to the appeal office.

The appeals officer had referred to the assessor’s report in a determination of the appeal.

It was claimed the respondent had informed the High Court in other unrelated proceedings that medical assessors’ reports would not be included on any appeal file.

Any decision to alter that position should have been publicised to those making appeals to the office, it was claimed.

As a result of the assessor’s report being included, the mother claimed that she was not allowed to challenge the parts of that document that she disagreed with.

The report, she claims, was prejudicial to her appeal because she claims that most of the care needs she set out for her daughter had been omitted from the document.

It was also argued that the respondent failed to engage with detailed evidence supplied by the mother or explain why this was not accepted.

Represented by senior counsel Feichín McDonagh, Brendan Hennessy and solicitor Patrick O’Neill, the woman brought court proceedings aimed at quashing the appeal office’s decisions.

The court was informed on Tuesday that the matter has been settled and the respondent agreed that the refusals could be quashed. The mother is also to be paid her legal costs.

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