The issue in this case concerns the statutory rules governing the assessment of maintenance and non-cash benefits for the purpose of deciding the Appellant’s rate of Jobseekers Allowance (JA). The Appellant is separated with 3 dependant children.
By way of decision, dated 01/04/2014, a Deciding Officer determined that the Appellant had weekly means of €167, and was therefore entitled to Jobseekers Allowance at the rate of €110.40 per week for herself and her three dependant children. It was decided that the Appellant had weekly means of €12.34 from employment and means of €154.31 from maintenance.
The assessment of means from maintenance was based on the mediation agreement between the Appellant and her former spouse. Under the terms of the agreement, the Appellant’s former spouse paid the following:
- €1,300 monthly mortgage payments [including insurances],
- €250 per month maintenance, and
- €200 per month towards the children’s extracurricular activities.
The Deciding Officer found the Appellant’s total assessable income from maintenance to be €403.85 per week. This equates to the sum of all the contributions (mortgage payments, contribution towards the children’s activities and cash maintenance) multiplied by 12 and then divided by 52. The Deciding Officer then subtracted the statutory disregard of €95.23, and divided the remaining amount by two to arrive at a means figure of €154.31.
The Appellant appealed this decision on the grounds that the only income she received from her former spouse was the maintenance payment in the amount of s €250 per month.
By way of summary decision (without an oral hearing), the Appeal was disallowed on 10/11/2014. The Appellant was unrepresented at Appeal.
The Appellant then sought the assistance of Kilkenny MABS. In April 2015, Kilkenny MABS, on behalf the Appellant, made a submission to the Chief Appeals Officer in accordance with s. 318 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, asserting that the Appeals Officer in this case had erred in fact and law.
The Chief Appeals Officer reviewed the Appeals Officer’s decision, and on 31/07/2015 she revised the decision in favour of the Appellant. The Chief Appeals Officer found that the Appellant’s means from maintenance should be assessed as €55 per week, not €154.
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