Case Studies » Pensions » State Pension (Non-contributory) - Case 7
The Appellant had previously been assessed with means of £76.92 derived from the letting value of his holding. He had then transferred the majority of his holding to his nephew who is employed as a carpenter in the US. The Appellant retained 7.25 acres of the holding. A review of his Old Age Pension was carried out. The transfer of the holding was not accepted as it was deemed to be for the purposes of qualifying for an Old Age Pension. The holding was then assessed on a capital value basis, as it was not deemed to be owned or personally used by the Appellant.
The Appellant’s nephew accompanied him at the hearing. The Appellant’s Solicitor also attended. The Deciding Officer attended as requested. The Appeals Officer explained the question at issue.
The Appellant explained that he had sought an increase in his Old age Pension after the Farmer’s Retirement Scheme had ceased when he reached 70 years. He said that he had transferred the land to his nephew because he was precluded from resuming farming by the terms of the Farm Retirement Scheme. He had gone to the local Social Welfare Office to seek a review of his case. Appellant confirmed that he had retained 7 acres around the house, which is not put to profitable use. He said that the land had been in his family for generations.
The Deciding Officer outlined the basis for the decision. Acting on present guidelines, she had decided that the transfer was not acceptable, as the transferee was resident in the US. She also noted the opinion of the Social Welfare Inspector that the transfer was not for agricultural purposes. She had been guided by the Social Welfare Inspector’s report in coming to the view that the transfer was not acceptable. She felt that a capital value assessment was the appropriate method assessing means as the Appellant did not use the land. She conceded that it was likely that the transfer would be acceptable if the transferee was resident in Ireland.
The Appellant’s Solicitor confirmed that the transfer had been stamped and was now with Land Registry for registration. She said that the land had been transferred to Appellant’s nephew, rather than bequeathed, because she had witnessed many such wills contested after death and it made financial sense to transfer rather than pay probate. She pointed to Appellant’s reduced capacity. He was 72 years of age and had a physical disability. She submitted that the transfer should be viewed favourably in light of Appellant’s age and infirmity. She pointed out that Appellant had other nephews living in the area and that it would have been acceptable had the transfer been made to one of them. The Solicitor revealed that the Appellant had gone to the local Community Welfare Officer for financial support.
Appellant’s nephew stated that he had been going and coming to the US. He had legal status there but he did plan to return to Ireland. He has been in the US for the past 10 years and is married with three children. He went on to say that the debt incurred by the transfer was now an impediment to his return, as he had to work off that debt. He added that he couldn’t afford to return to Ireland. He did work the land before leaving for the US but the land is now let for €5,600 per annum.
Consideration of the Appeals Officer:
The Appellant is being assessed with the capital value of a holding that he does not own. The Appeals Officer did not think that it was reasonable to have expected the Appellant to sell the farm as it had been in the family for generations. Also, the farm had previously been assessed on a letting value basis and this is what the Appellant deprived himself of by the transfer. The land continues to be let for €5,600 per annum. The Appeals Officer did not consider that the Appellant had a source of means from the 7 acres retained.
The transfer is not acceptable, as the transferee is not resident in the state. Were he to return, as is his stated intention, then the acceptance of the transfer could be reconsidered. Appellant has not deprived himself of the capital value but the letting value. Also, the appellant must not be resident on the property.
The Appeals Officer considered the submissions made, and found that the transfer was not acceptable but that the Appellant had only deprived himself of the letting value which is €5,600 per annum.