The Public Accounts Committee met to discuss issues including the Northern Ireland Audit Office Report on "The Administration and Management of the Disability Living Allowance Reconsideration and Appeals Process," on 14 October 2010.
Committee chair Paul Maskey of Sinn Fein opened the evidence session on the Audit Office report. He said there was a "huge number" of appeals in the Disability living Allowance (DLA) system, and asked why so many of the decisions were overturned.
Will Haire from the Department of Social Development said 10% of cases were appealed and 3% were overturned. He said in many cases this was because new evidence was made available to the tribunal particularly in the form of doctors' reports.
Mr Maskey asked if it would be possible to make the allowance application form easier. Will Haire said the form had been cut down from 48 to 39 pages. Mickey Kelly from the Pensions, Disability and Carers Service said the form was usually reviewed once a year but there was a fine balance to be made as the service wanted to allow space for applicants to supply all they information they thought relevant.
John Dallat of the SDLP said some GPs charged patients up to £50 to supply medical records in connection with DLA applications.
The SDLP's Patsy McGlone asked about the numbers of decisions on DLA claims going to review. Tommy O'Reilly of the Social Security Agency there were around eight thousand reconsiderations each year, with six thousand of these going to appeal.