A new scheme has been introduced by the DSP that allows for the recovery of welfare benefits from successful personal injury claims.
Since the first of this month, the “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” has been enforced. This scheme enables the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to recover welfare benefits paid to recipients of personal injury compensation.
The scheme was a result of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2013, aimed at replacing the previous practice of deducting welfare benefits from compensation for loss of earnings, and operates in a similar way to the Compensation Recovery Unit in the UK.
With the new legislation, the compensator in question-which is usually the negligent party’s insurance provider-is required to request a statement from the Department of Social Protection outlining the value of certain welfare benefits that the plaintiff has received in the previous five years which relate directly to the accident or injury for which their claim for compensation was made.
Copies of this statement will also be sent to the other relevant parties-the plaintiff and the Injuries Board (in cases where they have been responsible for completing an accepted assessment). This will detail the deductions that are to be made from compensation settlements for the recovery of welfare benefits.
The benefits which apply under the new scheme are confined to:
• Injury Benefit
• Illness Benefit
• Partial Capacity Benefit
• Incapacity Supplement
• Disability Allowance
• Invalidity Pension
Before this legislation, the welfare benefits have usually been deducted from plaintiff’s loss of earnings settlement, and therefore there will be no difference in how much personal injury compensation they receive. It is likely to take several weeks longer for a compensation settlement to be received as a result of the new process.
It is important to note that plaintiffs must check their copy of the benefits statement to ensure that it is entirely accurate, and reflects only the welfare benefits that they have received in respect of their injury. If the statement is incorrect, an appeals process exists.
For professional legal advice about how to check the recovery of welfare benefits – and what to do if you consider the DSP´s figures to be incorrect – it is recommended that you consult with a personal injury solicitor.