Mother challenges allowance decision
A mother of three children with autism has brought a High Court action arising out of the Minister for Social Protection’s refusal to pay her the Domiciliary Care Allowance in respect of her youngest child.
Deirdre Sheerin is challenging the Minister’s refusal to pay her the allowance in respect of Éadaoin, aged two.
The payment is made under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, for children who need continual care in excess of the care and attention normally required of a child of the same age.
The Minister said the child did not need extra care and so did not qualify.
Ms Sheerin claims medical reports on Éadaoin’s condition had not been properly considered by the Minister.
She says these reports clearly show that the child qualifies for the payments.
Ms Sheerin claims the Minister acted in breach of natural and fair procedures, and wants her application remitted back to the Minister for a decision that complies with all the statutory and procedural requirements.
Her counsel, Derek Shortall, told the court all three of the Sheerins’ children were diagnosed as having autism.
The Sheerins received the allowance in respect of their two older children. On three occasions last year Ms Sheerin’s application for the allowance for their third child was refused.
The Minister, citing reports from medical assessors, deemed Éadaoin did not qualify.
After the first refusal Ms Sheerin, who is on leave from the Garda Síochána to care for her children, submitted reports from a GP and a consultant, stating the child could not be left alone at any time.
Counsel said Ms Sheerin claimed that a medical assessment of her daughter should have been carried out given the conflict of evidence between the Minister’s medical assessors and the child’s GP and the consultant.
Ms Sheerin, from Clara, Co Offaly, is seeking an order quashing the Minister’s refusal. She is also seeking declarations that the Minister and the medical assessor erred in law by failing to consider all the evidence.
Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The judge made the matter returnable to a date in February.