CLM Northside represented an Appellant, a non-EU national, before the Social Welfare Appeals Office in respect of an application she made for Child Benefit in June 2011 which was disallowed. The application was refused on the grounds that the Appellant was not lawfully resident in the State and therefore could not satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition. This decision was appealed on the grounds that the Appellant derived a right of residence from her son, an Irish and EU citizen, under Articles 20 and 21 TFEU as per the decision of the European Court of Justice in Ruiz Zambrano v Office national de l’empoi.
The appeal was partially allowed and the Appellant was deemed entitled to Child Benefit from the 1st of December 2006. The Appellant was subsequently successful in her applications for Rent Supplement and One Parent Family Payment and was awarded arrears of payments dating back to 2006 which amounted to approximately €16,000.
CLM Northside’s input:
CLM Northside provided representation to the Appellant and appeared before the Social Welfare Appeals Office on behalf of the Appellant in respect of an oral hearing. Given the complexity of the case which involved issues of EU Law, the Law Centre instructed Counsel in the case who also appeared before the Appeals Officer at the oral hearing. CLM Northside obtained the client’s file under the Freedom of Information Acts and prepared legal submissions in the case based upon EU Law and case law arguing that the Appellant had a right to reside based upon EU law and in particular, the Zambrano decision of the CJEU, and therefore did satisfy the conditions, in particular, the habitual residence condition for receipt of child benefit. Given the complexity of the legal issues involved, the Appellant would have found it difficult to successfully represent herself.
The case was successful and substantial arrears were awarded to the client in respect of backdating child benefit payments and arrears of One Parent Family payment which, combined, totalled €16,000. In making her determination, the Appeals Officer relied on the law applicable in 2006, the effective date of award. In so doing, the Appellant’s right to Child Benefit was established with reference to the question of habitual residence only. The Appeals Officer noted that, having regard to the duration of the period of the Appellant’s residence in Ireland prior to the birth of her son, the Appellant did satisfy the condition of being habitually resident with effect from the 1st December 2006. The Appellant was awarded Child Benefit from 1st December 2006 in arrears amounting to approximately €11,000.00 and was also subsequently awarded Rent Supplement and arrears in respect of One Parent Family Payment of approximately €5000.
The Appellant in this case was severely affected by the length of time taken in dealing with her appeal. The Appellant applied for Child Benefit in June 2011 and received no payment until January 2013; neither did she receive any other payment despite applying for rent supplement and One Parent Family Payment. This put the Appellant, a single mother, under immense financial pressure and as a result, was at risk of homelessness and considered leaving Ireland as she had no means to sustain herself here. The financial circumstances of the Appellant were emphasised in the submission from the Law Centre on the 12th July 2012 and in a letter dated 27th July 2012.