The Ombudsman can examine complaints about the actions of a range of public bodies, including the Department of Social Protection and the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
The Ombudsman can examine complaints about the everyday administrative activities carried out by the Department and the Appeals Office. These include complaints about delays or failure to take action.
Yes. The Ombudsman deals with all complaints independently and impartially when judging whether the action or decision of the Department or the Appeals Office was fair and reasonable.
You can complain about any of the following:
The Ombudsman handles complaints about payments related to all schemes defined in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 and later legislation. These payments are all said to be governed by legislation and some examples are listed below.
State Pension (Contributory)
State Pension (Non-Contributory)
Widow’s Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension
Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant
Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension
One-Parent Family Payment
Family Income Supplement
Payments for children
Respite Care Grant
Domiciliary Care Allowance
Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance
Exceptional Needs Payments
Qualified Adult Allowance
Dependent Child Allowance
Living Alone Allowance.
The Ombudsman can examine issues relating to:
We can only examine a case relating to social welfare payments governed by legislation and PRSI when:
The Ombudsman also deals with complaints related to schemes run by the Department of Social Protection that are not provided for under social welfare law. These are outlined below.
We can only examine a case relating to the above schemes and payments when:
You may complain to the Ombudsman if, in your dealings with the Department of Social Protection, you are unhappy about:
We can only examine a case relating to any of these matters if you have used the Department’s complaints system and your complaint is still unresolved.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office operates independently of the Department of Social Protection. The Appeals Office examines appeals about:
The Ombudsman may examine the Social Welfare Appeals Office’s work including:
Once we establish that we can examine your complaint, we will ask the Department of Social Protection or the Social Welfare Appeals Office to send us a report. If necessary, the Ombudsman may also examine the files and records and may question people involved with the complaint. It can take time to gather the information that we need.
We will examine all the issues of maladministration. ‘Maladministration’ includes an action that was or may have been:
Based on these criteria we will decide whether:
If we decide that you have suffered due to maladministration, and the Department or Appeals Office has not taken steps to remedy this, we may recommend it does so. In our recommendation, we may ask the Department to:
The Ombudsman cannot examine:
You can refer complaints relating to private or occupational pensions to the Pensions Ombudsman, 36 Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2.
If you are unsure whether our Office can examine your complaint, contact us and we will let you know.
Before you complain to the Ombudsman you should try to resolve your problem with the Department of Social Protection .
You must have already appealed the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office if your complaint is about:
You must have asked for a review or taken your complaint to the Department’s internal complaints system if your complaint is about:
If you are not happy with the outcome you can then contact the Ombudsman. Please remember to include any letters or other correspondence between you and the Department or Social Welfare Appeals Office.
Complain to the Ombudsman as soon as possible. You should complain within 12 months of the:
The time taken to reach a decision will vary from case to case, depending on how complex it is. However, we will keep you informed of what is happening with your complaint.
Nothing - there is no charge for the services of the Ombudsman.
How do I complain to the Ombudsman?
The Office of the Ombudsman,
6 Earlsfort Terrace,
Dublin 2, D02 W773
Phone: 01 – 639 5600
Yes, but only if you give them permission to do so. If you want to complain on behalf of someone else, you must get their permission first.
If you have a disability and need help to use the services
of the Ombudsman, contact us to arrange to speak to our Access Officer.