Control over payment of caregiver’s allowance still weak

2/5/2003 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 5 February 2003 - The state pays monthly allowance to persons who take care of a disabled person, and therefore cannot go to work. The SAO examined whether the existing system of allocation of allowances ensures that only the persons entitled to it received allowance. The auditors established that this is not yet so.

The first priority is to make sure that an applicant does not have a job and is so busy with care-giving that she or he has no possibility to go to work. The Pension Boards determined the existence of a job on the basis of employment record book. Applicants had to give their confirmation about the non-existence of a job. Payment of social tax was not checked in general, hence, some persons who had worked without a contract of employment also received allowance. The possibility of working and care-giving at the same time has not been considered in allowance allocation. Thus, parents whose child lived in a boarding school during the week also received allowance. At the same time, several boarding school children were maintained by the state. .

The SAO does not consider it right that the caregiver’s allowance is paid to persons registered as unemployed. The latter did not have to give up working due to care-giving of a disabled person, but due to the lack of an appropriate job. The state pays a separate unemployment benefit to unemployed persons, and provides services to ensure their fast return to the labour market.

At the moment there is no continuous supervision on whether a caregiver actually provides sufficient help to a disabled person. In some cases the existence or sufficiency of assistance was under serious doubt. For example, allowance was paid to daytime students both in general education, vocational and higher schools as well as to persons whose place of study was too far from the place of the person under their care for the students to be able to take care of the disabled person every day.

Due to poor supervision we cannot yet be sure at present that allowance is not paid to a parent who is not raising his or her disabled child anymore, e.g., because she or he has divorced; to a caregiver whose patient is in hospital; or to a caregiver who himself or herself stays in hospital for a longer time.

The law requires refunding of allowance only if false data has been presented, but does not require refunding if a person has failed to provide information about circumstances influencing payment of allowance. Thus, allowance recipients often fail to provide such information, giving rise to random refunding of the excessively paid sums.

The SAO believes that the shortcomings in the payment of caregiver’s allowance are caused mainly by the too general wording of the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act. Therefore, the SAO recommends the Act be specified and everyday supervision on payment of allowance be made more effective. The Ministry of Social Affairs has already started to fulfil the proposals of the SAO.

Altogether 30,000 persons are paid caregivers’ allowance. Last year the total allowance amount reached about 105 million kroons.

Sven Soiver
Press Representative of State Audit Office
Telephone: (372) 640 0787
GSM: (372) 53 414464

  • Posted: 2/5/2003 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 10/2/2015 6:23 PM
  • Last Review: 10/2/2015 6:23 PM

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