Dáil Éireann - Volume 419 - 19 May, 1992

Written Answers. - Contributory Old Age Pensioner.

171. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been drawn to the great distress caused to a contributory old age pensioner still in good health who has received two letters from his Department addressed to “the representatives of the late” and demanding that the said representatives repay the pension claimed since the reported date of death; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the person concerned (details supplied) has only recently applied for and has been awarded the living alone allowance by his Department; the reason such an upsetting error can occur; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the person concerned is under treatment and has been aggravated by these erroneous letters; if he will further outline the apology which will issue to the person concerned and the steps being taken to ensure that this mistake will not be repeated.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. McCreevy): On behalf of my Department I unreservedly apologise for the distress and inconvenience which has been caused to the person concerned.

Following the death of his spouse in January 1992, the person concerned applied for a Death Grant. On 13 March 1992 a cheque for £100 — the maximum amount payable — issued to him. Due to an administrative error which arose in the completion of documentation arising from the award of the Death Grant, it was taken that the person concerned had died. Consequently, his Retirement Pension was terminated. In addition letters requesting the return of his pension book and payment of an alleged overpayment issued in error to his personal representatives.

[1879] I have fully examined the circumstances which gave rise to the issue of the letters in question and I have taken steps to ensure that this type of error will not occur again. A letter of apology has issued to him from my Department in this regard.

The person concerned is currently in receipt of a Retirement Pension of £66.70 per week including a Living Alone Allowance. In addition he receives Free Electricity Allowance. Following the death of his spouse, he received Free Fuel Allowance up to the end of the 1991-92 heating season.

As the person concerned is now residing alone, he may be eligible for Free Telephone Rental Allowance. An application form issued to him on 18 May 1992. As soon as this is completed and returned to the Department, a decision on his entitlement will be made. He will be notified of the outcome immediately.