Title of Payment: One Parent Family Payment Keywords: One Parent Family Payment –appeal– oral hearing - section 317 – appeal allowed
The Appellant arrived in Ireland and sought asylum in February 2002. She gave birth to her first child in 2002. She applied for and was awarded One Parent Family Payment (OPFP). Her second child was born in 2009 and she applied for an increase in respect of her second child. The Appellant’s circumstances were investigated in or around September 2009. By letter issued in October 2011 a Deciding Officer (DO) notified the Appellant that she was not entitled to receive OPFP with effect from June 2002 for the reason that she was married when she first applied for OPFP. As a result of the revised decision the Appellant was found to have incurred an overpayment in the sum of €75, 896.10.
Prior to issuing the decision, the DO wrote to the Appellant on 21 September 2011 for the purpose of setting out the Department’s evidence and to provide the Appellant with an opportunity to submit rebuttal or comment. The correspondence referred to an investigation and report by the Social Welfare Inspector and stated that:
[…]On the 09/12/2009 the Social Welfare Inspector requested you to forward papers relating to your application to the Department of Justice for permission to reside in Ireland.
On the 15 January 2010 you forwarded a copy of your ASY 1 form signed and dated by you 04/02/2002, you stated on that form that you were married and you gave your husband’s name as …
You applied for One Parent Family in July 2002, you stated on the form that you were unmarried and you sign [sic] the declaration on the 24/07/2002.
By decision, dated 5 October 2011, the Appellant’s claim was disallowed with effect from 6 June 2002 for the following reasons:
I am satisfied that you are Married and you failed to disclose this to this Department when you applied for One Parent Family on the 12/04/2002, and I have decided that you were not entitled to One Parent Family Payment from 06/06/2002. This decision has been made in accordance with Section 302(A) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (the 2005 Act). As a result of the Deciding Officer’s decision, you have been assessed with an overpayment amounting to €75,896.10 from 06/06/2002 to 21/01/2010. A copy of the overpayment calculation is attached for your information.
On 11 October 2011, the Appellant sought a review of the decision and submitted an affidavit in which she attested her single status. The affidavit attested to the Appellant coming to Ireland to seek asylum after having been persecuted for becoming pregnant outside of marriage. Prior to her departure the person with whom she had a relationship informed her that he would attempt to meet her family and have a traditional marriage ceremony performed. When she arrived in Ireland she therefore indicated that she was married on the asylum application form. The affidavit further confirmed that the Appellant was later informed that this marriage ceremony had not in fact taken place.
On 15 October 2011 the Department wrote to the Appellant advising that the decision stands.
On 20 October 2011 the Appellant appealed the decision and submitted a copy of her affidavit.