Form mix-up leaves mother without funds

by Ian Begley

A LUCAN mother of one was left penniless for almost a week after her one-parent family allowance was temporarily suspended because she did not fill out a renewal form.
Maria Brady says she was left without any money throughout the bank holiday weekend and up until Wednesday, October 30, when an employee in the Clondalkin Social Welfare Office told her she needed to fill out a renewal form in order to continue to receive her benefits.
As Lucan only has a social welfare office for basic signing on purposes, she had to walk to Clondalkin to fill out the form.
Talking to The Gazette, she said: “When I found out at the post office that my money didn’t go through, I immediately became very worried.
“I walked to the social welfare office in Lucan, but they told me that I needed to go to the social welfare office in Clondalkin to sort it out.
“Since I didn’t even have the bus fare to get down, it took me an hour and a half to walk there. When I finally arrived, the girl behind the counter said I didn’t receive my payment because I never filled out a renewal form, even though I never received one.
“After I filled one out in the office, I was told that I had to wait until the Wednesday after the bank holiday to receive any money,” she said.
Maria said this came as a huge shock, and she became very concerned that she wouldn’t be able to get her medication or provide for her son.
She explained her predicament, but left the office without her payment.
She said: “When I was on my way home, I received a phone call from a woman telling me to ring a man [who worked] in the Clondalkin office. He was on his lunch break at the time, and I didn’t even have the credit to give him a call.
“I couldn’t even walk back to Clondalkin, because I had my little boy to pick up from school at 3pm.
“Even if I did walk back, I wasn’t sure if [the official] would be in his office or if I was even going to get any money.
“I now have to spend the next week living without money, gas, or the medication that I need. I need to take two tablets per day, but I’ve only been taking one a day now that I don’t have the money for my prescription.
“I’ve got a little boy, and can’t even afford to heat my house. It’s an absolute disgrace,” she said.
A representative from the social welfare office in Clondalkin said they send out annual review forms to everyone who claims benefits, which are to certify any change in the individual’s circumstances.
The representative said: “If a person goes into the post office and there was no payment for them, they would come to us, where we’ll note their new address and any other change of circumstances.
“We would have to do something about it, or else restore their payment.”
A representative from the Department of Social Protection said that since Lucan does not have a full social welfare office, people who claim one-parent family allowances have to go to Clondalkin to renew their application.
The representative said: “There is no social welfare office in Lucan, only a [signing] office that opens for a couple of hours during the week.
“The Office of Public Works is currently looking for a premises in the area, but I don’t think they have come up with anything, as of yet.”

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