Case Studies » Pensions » State Pension (Non-Contributory) - Case 13
The appellant was in receipt of the state (non-contributory) pension. He reported a change in his circumstances to the Department and, following a review of his means by the Social Welfare Inspector, he was assessed with means from the value of property and also capital from a life assurance policy payable to his wife’s children. His weekly means exceeded the weekly rate of pension payable in his case and, consequently, his claim was disallowed by a deciding officer.
The appellant attended accompanied by his wife and the Social Welfare Inspector was also in attendance.
The Social Welfare Inspector outlined her reports in the case. Following a review of the appellant’s means after he had contacted the Department to report a change in his circumstances, he was assessed with means from the letting of land and capital held in an account in the name of appellant and his wife. The capital in question arose as a result of a settlement paid to the appellant’s wife’s children from her first marriage. The children’s father had died in a road accident and the compensation arising from that had been invested. The capital accumulated over the years and was initially kept in the wife’s sole name but later the appellant’s name was added as a precaution. The Social Welfare Inspector was satisfied as to the bona fides of the capital, that it had not been personally used by the appellant or his wife over the years as there had been no withdrawals, and that on the basis of evidence produced it had since been transferred to the wife’s two daughters. However, as capital had been in the appellant’s name, there was nothing to preclude him from its use and, therefore, it fell to be assessable as means. The deciding officer, however, continued to assess the capital against the appellant with the result that his means remained in excess of the limit for pension purposes.
In reply, the appellant and his wife confirmed the facts as outlined by the Inspector and stated and that they had no issue in relation to the assessment of means against them except in relation to the capital. The appellant’s wife maintained that the money in question was not hers, that neither herself nor the appellant had ever used the money for personal purposes, even during hard times over the years, and that she was merely holding the money in trust for her daughters. The appellant’s name had been added to the account as a precaution should anything happen to her. She added that her daughters were now in their thirties and were of an age when they would use the money wisely. She submitted a deed of transfer under the terms of which the money was transferred to the daughters without any reservations in favour of the appellant or his wife. Her sole motivation in doing so was to give her daughters what was properly theirs at a time in their lives when it would be of most benefit to them.
Consideration of the Appeals Officer:
The Appeals Officer considered the case under the provisions of the relevant legislation which states that the any property belonging to the person calculated in the prescribed manner shall constitute the weekly means of the person. He was of the view that, although the appellant stated that he was not the owner of the capital, it was held in a joint account and consequently there were no legal limitations on the appellant or his wife as to how the capital might be used. They were free to use the money as they chose and, therefore, could be regarded as the legal owners of the money. The fact that they viewed the money as belonging to the daughters was a personal choice and, therefore, the decision to assess the capital as means against the appellant means was correct.
The Appeals Officer then considered the decision of the deciding officer to continue to assess the capital as means after it had been transferred for the benefit of the two daughters. The relevant legislation provides that in such circumstances capital can only be continued to be assessed if it is considered that the claimant disposed of the capital in order to qualify for a pension. The Appeals Officer considered all the evidence before him and was satisfied that that was not the case. In the circumstances, he found that there were no grounds for the continued assessment of the capital subsequent to the date of transfer to the daughters.
In summary, the Appeals Officer determined that appellant’s means were in excess of the prescribed limits for the duration of the period that the capital was in joint names but that means from capital should not apply after the date of transfer.
Appeal partly allowed.