I have spent over 30 years working in journalism as a chief reporter and as news editor.
In May 2012 I suffered permanent damage to my eyesight following an assault. One year later, in May 2013, the Department of Social Protection awarded me a disability allowance on the basis of the hospital surgeon's medical report regarding my condition, backdated to the date of my injury in 2012.
16 months later and I am still waiting to receive any of the awarded disability allowance payments.
Some weeks ago I was sent a letter by the Disability allowance section requesting that I provide bank statements, which I duly did. As one of the statements I submitted was a printed on-line bank account statement, it was rejected by the allowance section as inadequate and I received a further demand to provide full bank statements. I obtained full bank statements and sent them off.
As one of the statements showed a number of small UK bank cheque deposits - none over €50, I received another letter telling me, not asking, that I was in receipt of a UK Dept. of Works pension and would I confirm such.
This is not the case and I had to again write to inform the Disability Allowance section that no, I did not have a pension, was in fact not entitled to one as I was no longer resident in the UK and was due a small private pension on turning 65, which would amount to less than €25 weekly. This information was fully provided when I applied for the allowance.
The cheque payments were from private individuals who had received IT and PC assistance from me. The total payments amounted to much, much less than the allowed earnings ceiling.
I am 63 years old and live alone in a small privately rented townhouse in Limerick City. When the rent and other utility bills have been paid, it is a losing struggle to manage on weekly food never mind other basic essentials. I am completely unable to afford any heating and bleakly look forward to the return of winter.
My local unemployment office informs me that my disability allowance has been 'cleared' but appears to be 'held up' due to the personal cheque payments into my bank. I have still not received any payments and must attend my doctor's surgery every week for a medical certificate - something I have now had to do since May 2012.
This is the Department of Social Protection ? ? ?