Reasons for Decisions

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Table of Contents

  1. Regulations
  2. DAO Remarks on Regulations
  3. Applying the Provisions
  4. Recording the Decision
  5. Grounds and Reasons
  6. Sample Letter of Notification
  7. References to third party information

Appendix - Letter of Notification

1. Regulations

Article 191 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 (as amended) [ S.I. No. 142 of 2007] provide that decisions on social welfare claims must be set out in writing and, where the decision is unfavourable, the reasons for the decision must also be recorded and included in the notification to the person concerned.

The following is the relevant extract from the Regulations:

Decision of deciding officer.

  • The decision of a deciding officer shall be in writing and signed by him or her.
  • Where the decision of the deciding officer is not in favour of the person, the deciding officer shall set out in writing the reasons for the said decision.
  • Subject to sub article (4), the Minister shall, as soon as may be after the decision is made, cause a memorandum of -
    1. the decision, and
    2. where it is not in favour of the person, the reasons for the said decision to issue to the person.

In the case of a decision arising under section 300(2)(a), other than decisions arising under sub-paragraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) of that section, the Minister shall, as soon as may be after the decision is made, cause a memorandum of -

  1. the decision, and
  2. the reasons for the said decision,

to issue to the parties who are subject to the decision.

2. DAO Remarks on Regulations

Sub-article 1:

The Deciding Officer must sign his/her name in full - written or electronic signature required (initials not sufficient) name typed or written in capitals underneath.

This use of an electronic signature as a signature for a record or a decision is permitted under legislation by the following Acts:

1. The Electronic Commerce Act 2000

  • The Electronic Commerce Act 2000 allows reference to writing to include electronic storage and allows the use of an electronic (digital) signature;
  • This Act provides that, in other Acts, reference to writing shall include electronic modes of representing or reproducing words in electronic form;
  • Section 13 of the Electronic Commerce Act 2000 contains a provision for the use in certain circumstances of electronic signatures. Where the signature of a person or public body is required or permitted an electronic signature may be used.

2. The Interpretation Act 2005

Part 1 of the Schedule to the Interpretation Act 2005 defines "writing" as including "…other modes of representing or reproducing words in visible form and any information kept in a non-legible form whether stored electronically or otherwise, which is capable by any means of being produced in a legible form";

Sub-article 2:
This requires the Deciding Officer to set out his/her reasons for the decision as part of that decision.

Sub-articles 3 & 4:
Issue of a notification with the decision and reasons combined therein will constitute a 'memorandum' for this purpose i.e. a separate page with the reasons is not required.

DOs should note that Sub-Article (1) requires that the decision be signed. But Sub-Articles (3) and (4) do not require that the memorandum to the customer be signed.
System generated letters from the Department are not necessarily signed.

Sub-article 3(b):
Where the decision is favourable to the claimant, the reason(s) for it do not require to be given. However, it may be appropriate to give reasons for favourable decisions in certain circumstances.

Sub-article 4:
The 'other' sub-paragraphs refer to decisions on insurability i.e. Scope decisions where both the employee and employer may be subject to the decision.

3. Applying the Provisions

Under the Regulations, the Deciding Officer is required to:

  1. keep a written record of the decision
  2. record the reasons if the decision is unfavourable
  3. notify the person in writing of the decision and, if unfavourable, of the reasons.

4. Recording the Decision

Where the decision is unfavourable, the Deciding Officer's record should show:

  • the grounds of disallowance or disqualification, or for the reduction in payment
  • if more than one ground of disallowance and or disqualification, record each one
  • the reason(s) for the decision
  • all relevant facts and evidence.

The record must be dated and signed in full - written or electronic signature (initials not sufficient) name of the Deciding Officer typed/written in capitals.

5. Grounds and Reasons

A distinction needs to be made between these two terms.The 'grounds' for a decision consist of the relevant condition in the legislation that is not satisfied. The 'reason(s)' for the decision explain why that condition is not satisfied.

Example 1
The person concerned is not entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit on the grounds that she is not available for employment. The reason for this decision is that she is placing unreasonable restrictions on the nature of the employment she is prepared to accept.

Example 2
The person concerned is not entitled to Illness Benefit on the grounds that he does not satisfy the contribution condition which requires him to have a minimum of 39 paid or credited contributions in the Governing Contribution Year 1997/98. The reason for this decision is that, according to the Department's records, he had a total of 27 contributions (paid and credited) in 1997/98.

Example 3
The person concerned is not entitled to Carer's Allowance on the grounds that she does not satisfy the means test. The reason for this decision is that her means derived from her spouse's earnings are in excess of x which is the means limit appropriate in her case.

(Note: In farm cases, the reasons for decision include the data on form IN 93, detailing the farm assessment.)

6. Sample Letter of Notification

The letter or form used in notifying a person of an adverse decision should include sufficent information to enable him/her to understand the reason for the decision and what steps s/he can take if not satisfied. The sample letter (See appendix below) sets out the various elements that should normally be included in the notification.

Note in particular:

  • Include the 5th and 8th paragraphs only if relevant
  • Give grounds and reasons for the decision
  • Enclose Information Leaflet or extract from Guidelines as appropriate
  • Invite person to submit further evidence to you before appeal.

7. Limitations on release of personal data

Data Protection legislation places some limitation on the release of personal data.  When notifying a person of a decision, you should be conscious of the need not to release data relevant to a third party, unless it is clear that they are aware of this and agree to it.

It may be relatively rare for it to arise that you are making your decision based on information from a third party who has not provided this information to the customer, but here are some examples:

Example 1:   Joe (aged 19) applies for JA. On the application form he states that both his parents (with whom he lives) are employed, but he doesn’t have their earnings.   However, his parents are prepared to give this data directly to the Department,  on the understanding that the details are not given to Joe. The DO decides that Joe does not satisfy the means test, due to B&P. Releasing the full details of the means assessment in this case would be in conflict with Data Protection legislation. Joe may be advised that he does not satisfied the means test, but the details of his parents earnings may not be released.    

Example 2:   Brian and Mary are married. Brian applies for JA. On the form, he says that he does not have information regarding Mary’s bank accounts, as they had always kept part of their finances separate. Mary agrees to send the details to DEASP, for the purposes of assessing Brian’s claim, on condition that the details of her savings are not released to Brian. The DO decides that Brian qualifies for a reduced rate of JA, due to the money in Mary’s accounts. In notifying the decision to Brian, the DO can indicate that the reduced rate is due to the means test, but the DO cannot give information regarding the amount of money held by Mary.

Appendix - Letter of Notification

The letter below shows the various elements that should be included when you are notifying a person about an unfavourable decision.

(Letter headed paper if available)

Person's name, Address, PPSN No Address of Section
(Include if not pre-printed)
Quote Reference Number if relevant Telephone No
Fax Number


Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms (Use surname not First name)

In relation to your claim to .... made on ......, it has been decided by a Deciding Officer that you are not entitled to ..... [with effect] from ..... on the grounds that you .....
(see above re Grounds and Reasons)

The reason(s) for this decision is that you .....

The position in your case is that ....
(give factual explanation, e.g. 28 paid contributions in GCY.)

The enclosed leaflet gives more details about this condition.
(enclose leaflet)

In reaching this decision, the points made by you in your letter of ... were taken into account.
Include this paragraph only if a person has put forward a case.)

If you consider this decision is incorrect, it is open to you to send any further documentary evidence that you think is relevant to your case to this Office and the decision will be reviewed by the Deciding Officer.
(offer a pre appeal review)

If you are not satisfied with the Deciding Officer's decision (either before or after seeking a review by a deciding officer), you may appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office by writing to the Chief Appeals Officer, D'Olier House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2, within 21 days of the date of this letter. A form for this purpose is available at this office.
(right of appeal must always be included)

In making a decision the Appeals Officer is subject to the same legislation as the Deciding Officer. So for your appeal to have any prospect of being successful, you would have to show that the Department's records relating to your contributions are incorrect and that you do have sufficient contributions to qualify.
(Include this paragraph only in cases where the decision is based solely on the contribution record of the person.)

If you are in financial need you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. You can get full details of this allowance from your Designated Person (formerly known as Community Welfare Officer) based at your local Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Office.
(Advise about SWA)

Yours sincerely

<Print Name>
Deciding Officer

Last modified:28/03/2017

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