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Woman who provided full-time care to sick brother ordered to repay €13,000 in social benefits

The order came after the Department of Social Security found out that she had transferred ownership of a garage to her sister, which meant she was judged to have had assets putting her above the legal threshold

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
3 August 2017, 2:30pm
A woman who provided full-time care to her sick brother has been ordered to refund over over €13,000 in social benefits after it was established that she had immovable assets exceeding the legal threshold
A woman who provided full-time care to her sick brother has been ordered to refund over over €13,000 in social benefits after it was established that she had immovable assets exceeding the legal threshold
A woman who provided full-time care to her seriously ill brother has been ordered to refund over €13,000 in social benefits because, on paper, she had owned immovable assets exceeding the legal threshold of €14,000.

On 10 April 2015, payment of the woman’s Social Assistance for Carers allowance was stopped and she was asked to refund the sum of €13,147.80, which she had received from the Department of Social Security between 2012 and 2015. The order came after the Department found out that she had transferred to her sister, by title of donation, her one-half undivided share of two garages in March 2012.

The value of the portion of property transferred was declared at €29,200, which meant she had owned property worth over €14,000 and was therefore ineligible for the benefit.

The woman had filed an unsuccessful appeal to the decision before the Social Security Arbiter, after which she had to resort to court action.

She explained that the donation of the share in the property had been intended to settle a Lm20,000 debt owed to her sister, which she had used to purchase a car in 1994.

But above all, the woman argued that she was not the beneficial owner of the property, but had only registered it in her name instead of her father, who had a gambling problem.

Judge Anthony Ellul however, presiding over the court of appeal, rejected the argument, pointing out that the deed in question made no mention of the donation being made in full and final settlement of the loan between the two sisters. The court observed that had this been the case, the woman should not have put her signature to the deed transferring part of the property.

The court dismissed the appeal, confirming that the arbiter's assessment had been a reasonable one.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...