Case Studies » Pensions » State Pension (Non-Contributory) - Case 12
The appellant's claim to state pension was disallowed on the grounds that he was unable to provide evidence of his age
The appellant attended alone. The Social Welfare Inspector and a Health Service Executive official were also in attendance.
At the outset, the Appeals Officer clarified the issue before her, namely, whether or not the appellant had attained pension age for the purpose of his pension claim.
The appellant outlined his background indicating that he was born and raised in an Asian country, moved to the United Kingdom some 40 years ago and came to live in Ireland in 1978. His passport was stolen shortly after arriving in this country. The HSE official said she had been in contact with the relevant embassy with a view to getting a birth certificate for the appellant but had been told he would need a current passport in order to get a birth certificate. In order to get a current passport, he would need a birth certificate. Consequently, he was caught in a “Catch 22“situation with regard to his documentation.
The Social Welfare Inspector presented the Appeals Officer with a copy of legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General’s to the effect that the best evidence as to a date of birth is a birth certificate and there is no obligation to accept sworn affidavits as proof of dates of birth.
The Appeals Officer noted that the appellant had been awarded a free travel pass by the Department (normally available only to persons aged 66 years or over) and also that the date of birth cited by him had been accepted by the HSE for the purpose of his supplementary welfare allowance claim.
Consideration of the Appeals Officer:
The Appeals Officer clarified the position regarding the formal decision in this case indicating that the question of what documentation may be required as proof of age is, under the relevant legislation, a matter for decision by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and is not properly a deciding officer or Appeals Officer function. However, given that the matter had been submitted to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for adjudication, the Appeals Officer deemed that the issue for determination in this case was whether the appellant attained pension age for the purpose of qualifying for state pension.
The Appeals Officer noted the advice received from the Attorney General’s Office but concluded that, while clearly a birth certificate would be desirable, the advice did not preclude the acceptance of sworn affidavits or other appropriate evidence in the absence of an official birth certificate. The Appeals Officer also noted that the HSE had accepted a date of birth for the appellant for the purpose of his supplementary welfare allowance payments which would render him of pension age. She considered that from the written submissions on file and the oral evidence give at the appeal hearing that the HSE was satisfied as to the appellant's bona fides. In addition, the Pensions Services Office of the Department had issued a free travel pass to the appellant on the basis that he had attained the relevant age. Having regard to those circumstances and taking account of the appellant’s presentation of his case and his generally aged appearance, she was satisfied that he had attained pension age.