Case Studies » Pensions » State Pension (Non-Contributory) - Case 3
The appellant claimed an Old Age Non-Contributory Pension in June 2003 and was awarded €39.00 per week from the date of his claim. He sought to have the award backdated to September 2002, when he returned to Ireland.
The appellant attended the hearing unaccompanied. He outlined the grounds on which he sought to have his pension backdated. He reported that when he returned to Ireland, having worked for some years in the United Kingdom, he went to the local Citizens Information Centre to enquire as to housing and any other entitlements he might have had. He was given a number of information leaflets, including some which referred to social welfare schemes. He reported that he was not asked about his British retirement pension, nor was he advised that if he considered he was entitled to any Irish pension, he should apply without delay in order to avoid loss of payment. He made it clear that while he felt aggrieved by this, he did not blame those in the Citizens Information Centre for not informing him more fully as to his entitlements.
Consideration of the Appeals Officer:
The Appeals Officer regarded the appellant as a credible witness and accepted what he said as true. He considered that there was more at issue in the case than simply a lack of knowledge as to entitlements. He noted that at the earliest possible opportunity, the appellant had made enquiries at an officially funded information centre. He considered that having done so, the appellant should have left with all of the information he needed to make a prompt claim for an Irish pension. He noted that social welfare legislation provides for backdating an award of payment where the delay in making the claim is due to information given by an officer of the Minister (under Statutory Instrument 159 of 2000). While recognising that those who work in the Citizens Information Centres are not officers of the Minister, the Appeals Officer noted that the Centres themselves are funded by the Department of Social and Family Affairs through Comhairle (the statutory agency responsible for supporting the provision of information, advice and advocacy on social services). On this basis, he concluded that the staff of the Centre in question were, indirectly, acting on behalf of the Minister and he backdated the award of pension to September 2002.