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Case Studies » Other Cases » Estate Case - State Pension (Non-Contributory) - from 2015 Annual Reort (ref: 2015/25)

Background: The late pensioner made a claim for State Pension (Non-Contributory) in 1987.  Her means were investigated and the capital declared, some £17,000, was assessed.  Pension was awarded.  A review conducted in 1992 indicated capital of £16,000, with a similar amount noted at a further review in 1997.  Following the pensioner’s death in 2011, a schedule of assets was submitted to the Department, indicating that she held assets in the amount of €80,000 at the time of her death.  A revised decision was made where the Deciding Officer concluded that pension was payable at a lower rate in the period from 2002 to 2011.  As a result, an overpayment of some €45,000 was assessed against the estate.  The executor sought to establish if the deceased would have had an entitlement to a contributory State Pension.  Details of her social insurance record were examined and she was held to have an entitlement to a reduced Pre-1953 State Pension.  The effect of this decision was to reduce the overpayment to €37,000, and a demand for payment was issued to the estate.  An appeal was made by the executor. 

Oral hearing: The personal representative of the deceased attended and was accompanied by a solicitor.  The formal decision was presented and the evidence relied upon in making the decision was outlined.

The question as to entitlement to a contributory State Pension was discussed and it was pointed out that the deceased had applied in 1981 but her claim was refused.  The Appeals Officer sought to clarify that a special Pre-1953 State Pension (Contributory) was introduced with effect from 5 May 2000, and applied to persons with social insurance contributions paid prior to 1953.  This pension is payable at half the maximum standard rate.  The Appeals Officer referred to evidence provided by the Department which indicated that, when the deceased’s entitlement to a Pre-1953 State Pension (Contributory) had been established the overpayment had been recalculated and reduced from the amount originally assessed to the current level of €37,000.

In support of the appeal, it was submitted that the deceased would have been a saver and that she had lived frugally and had not spent much money down through the years.  It was stated that her house was in very poor repair, that she only ever had one car and that she had never taken a holiday.

Consideration: In arriving at a decision in the case, the Appeals Officer examined all of the available evidence, including that adduced at the oral hearing.  She noted that, at the time of application, the deceased’s means were investigated and she had disclosed capital of £17,000.  No other means were disclosed at the time.  The Appeals Officer referred to the reviews conducted in 1992 and 1997, when the deceased would have had an opportunity to disclose all her means and noted that capital of the order of £16,000 was declared.  In contrast, she noted that the schedule of assets indicated capital of some €80,000 at date of death.  She concluded that, under the terms of the relevant social welfare legislation, this capital was assessable as means.  She determined that means had been assessed correctly in accordance with the relevant social welfare legislation and that the overpayment was recoverable from the assets of the deceased in accordance with the provisions of Section 335 (b) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005. 

Outcome:  Appeal disallowed.