Case Studies » Pensions » State Pension (Non-contributory) - Case 6
It had been decided that appellant was not entitled to an Old Age Pension on the grounds that her means exceeded the statutory limit. Means were derived from capital held (proceeds from the sale of family home). In the past appellant had been in receipt of a pension payment but the payment had been terminated when the appellant received capital following the sale of the former family home. This decision was not appealed. The appellant re-applied for the Old Age Pension claiming that she should be eligible for the exemption which allows the proceeds from the sale of the family home (up to a certain amount) to be excluded from the means test. At present appellant makes ends meet by drawing down an income from the capital which is invested.
Appellant attended the oral hearing accompanied by her daughter and her son-in-law. The question at issue was explained.
Appellant’s history in recent years was outlined. She had resided in the family home rearing the family. She had separated from her late spouse due to marital difficulties. There had been no separation or maintenance agreement. She had been in rented accommodation for some years. At that time she had been in receipt of a pension payment and had also received and rent supplement payment towards her rent. Subsequently she moved to her present address (also rented accommodation), the rent is €100 per week and she now receives no state help towards same.
When appellant’s spouse died she inherited the family home. Her late spouse had been in a nursing home at the time of his death. The family home had been vacant for some time and was in very poor condition. It was not appropriate for the appellant to return to live there. There was no family support locally and the house was uninhabitable. The house was sold and her late spouse’s debts were paid off and appellant received the balance of the capital.
The Social Welfare Inspector indicated that the appellant had moved out of the family home eleven years before her spouse died. She had resided elsewhere ever since and, as a result, she could not regard the house as her principal residence.
Consideration of the Appeals Officer:
The question at issue in the consideration of this case is whether the capital received by the appellant from the sale of the former family home should be taken into account as means. The core issue is whether the house represented appellant’s principal residence at the time of its sale. The term “principal residence” is not specifically defined in the legislation.
Although the appellant had not lived at the family home for some years, she had in the past resided there with her late husband and reared the family. She would always have had an interest in the property under the Family Home Protection Act. She had moved out due to marital difficulties and has since resided in rented accommodation. She has not owned any other house. Having considered all the available evidence the Appeals Officer felt that it would not be unreasonable to deem the sale of the family home as coming within the terms of the relevant regulations which provide for a disregard in the calculation of means where “the gross proceeds are derived from the sale of a dwelling house which is or has been occupied by the claimant as his principal residence”.
Accordingly, the Appeals Officer decided that the appellant should be exempt from a means assessment in respect of the proceeds of the sale of the family home in determining her level of means. The appellant is entitled to a Non Contributory Pension based on her level of means.