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Small decrease in illness benefit assessments last year

There was a small decrease in the number of medical assessments for illness benefit carried out by the Department of Social Protection last year compared to 2019, according to new figures provided to this newspaper.

A spokesperson for the Department also told the Medical Independent (MI) that a successful recruitment round for medical assessors has recently taken place following an earlier deferral in the process. There were 8,885 medical assessments carried out in 2019 and 8,732 in 2020 to determine a person’s continued eligibility for illness benefit.

Last year saw a significant increase in the number of assessments conducted for disability allowance. In 2019, some 1,099 medical assessments were carried out to determine a person’s continued eligibility for disability allowance, while there were 2,882 similar assessments in 2020.

“The increase… resulted mainly from further medical evidence that was provided by customers in response to a review of their entitlement,” the spokesperson told MI.

During 2019 and 2020 combined, a total of 256 disability allowance ‘customers’ were found to be no longer entitled to payment following a medical assessment and had their payment stopped. In 2019 and 2020 combined, 1,292 illness benefit ‘customers’ were found to be no longer entitled to payment following a medical assessment and had their payment stopped.

The 2020 annual recruitment competition for the medical assessor panel was due to take place in March, but was deferred because of the pandemic.
The recruitment process took place via Zoom in August, according to the
Department.

“The successful candidates were placed on the medical assessor panel. There are currently 31 medical assessors working for the Department, excluding a deputy and a chief medical adviser.”

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