Case Studies » Pensions » State Pension (Non-Contributory) - Case 9
The appellant had been awarded a reduced rate of pension, in line with an assessment of his means, with effect from a date in February 2006. He sought subsequently to have the date of award backdated on the grounds that he had made an earlier application for pension. The earlier application had been disallowed due to failure to disclose means.
The appellant was accompanied by a friend. The Deciding Officer and Social Welfare Inspector attended at the request of the Appeals Officer.
In order to assess the basis for the appellant’s grounds for appeal, the Appeals Officer considered the earlier pension applications made by the appellant. He noted the evidence made available to him by the Department which indicated that an application made in 1992 had not been signed or certified and was not, therefore, deemed to have been a valid claim. The Appeals Officer then considered a letter which the appellant’s accountants had sent to the Department in December 1999 asking whether he had an entitlement to a non-contributory pension. It preceded a re-application by the appellant in February 2000. Having reviewed this evidence, the Appeals Officer advised the appellant that he was satisfied that his application of February 2000 should be considered from the earlier date, when the accountant made enquiries on his behalf. The period at issue then for backdating as the relevant date in December 1999 to the date in 2006 when pension was awarded.
The Social Welfare Inspector outlined the details of the investigation she had carried out in 2000. She stated that she had requested information from the appellant concerning his wife’s pension, credit union account details, balances from all bank accounts over the previous 12 months and details of the sale of his business. That information had not been supplied and the Appeals Officer noted that the file had been endorsed accordingly by the Inspector. The pension application was disallowed in November 2000 on grounds that the appellant had failed to disclose his means. It was noted that he did not appeal that decision but the appellant said that he had been unaware of his right of appeal. However, a copy of the decision notice was on the file, stating that there was a right of appeal, and the Appeals Officer brought this to his attention.
In relation to the decision to award pension from a date in 2006, the Deciding Officer and Social Welfare Inspector indicated that it had been accepted that the sale of the appellant’s business in 1981 was no longer relevant. His means were now deemed to comprise his wife’s occupational pension only. His wife also had a reduced rate of contributory pension for which she was paid a qualified adult increase for the appellant. The appellant argued, however, that he should have been awarded a pension from the date on which he became entitled, i.e. the date on which the Department was satisfied that he had fully disclosed his means.
Consideration of the Appeals Officer:
The Appeals Officer was satisfied that all aspects of previous applications had been explored at the hearing. He noted that the appellant’s wife had been receiving a qualified adult increase and that his non-contributory pension entitlement would have had to exceed that rate before it would benefit them. Her income from the occupational pension would always have made up a significant portion of the appellant’s means regardless of any other means which he might have had, such as capital.
The Appeals Officer considered the appellant’s argument that he should have been awarded pension from the date on which he had fully disclosed his means. He took the view, however, that the onus did not rest with the Department to establish entitlement but with the appellant to satisfy the conditions governing entitlement. In this context, he noted that the appellant had an opportunity to comply with the investigation in 2000 and that he also had the option to appeal that decision but had done neither. He was satisfied that the appellant did not have any difficulty in comprehending the issues involved and he noted also that he had the advice of accountants over the years.
He examined the appellant’s contention that he had been led to believe that he was not entitled to a pension in 1992. He considered, however, that this did not constitute misinformation as it was likely, in view of the stringent means limits in place at the time, that his wife’s pension would have put him over the qualifying limit. In any event, he noted that the application had been withdrawn and that the appellant did not pursue another application for a further seven years. He considered also the question as to backdating payment for 6 months on grounds that there was good cause for the delay in making the claim. He concluded, however, that the appellant had not shown good cause (as required by the relevant legislation)  as he did not accept that, in the circumstances of this case, lack of knowledge could be regarded as good cause for failing to apply for a state pension and that the provision of incorrect information by the Department did not apply.
 Section 241(3) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005