An 83-year-old woman is facing an €88,000 bill after she was told she had been overpaid on her pension for 15 years.
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, Declan from Dublin said his mother has “aged dramatically” and has been prescribed anxiety medication since getting the first letter from the Pension’s Authority in 2019.
Her pension was immediately cut off and she was told that the money would have to be repaid as soon as possible.
Declan said that the letter warned that if she was to pass away before the money was repaid, it would be taken off the sale of her house or the debt would pass to her children.
“The letters state that she owes - there is no breakdown or anything, it just says you owe, €88,873 I think it was - because we overpaid you from 2001 to 2016,” he said.
“It had something to do with her English pension. Because she had an English pension, they shouldn’t have been paying her or something like that.”
Declan said his mother was a housewife for most of her life – although she worked in the UK for six or seven years when she lived there with his father in the 1960s.
People who have worked in certain overseas countries, including the UK, are entitled to a portion of the State pension from both countries.
Declan said the Pension’s Authority is claiming that his mother failed to inform them that she lived in the UK.
“They are saying she didn’t tick a box or something like that – which she did because I was there when my Dad filled in those forms and I helped him fill them in,” he said.
“My mother and father left school when they were 11 and 12 years of age so a lot of those forms, they had to be helped with them.”
Declan’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Dementia towards the end of his life and was living in a care home before he passed away last year.
He said the letters began arriving six months before his father’s death and, were it not for the Widow’s Pension his mother was then entitled to, she would have been left with nothing.
“They cut her off her pension as soon as the first letter arrived,” he said. “They just cut it off - no excuses, no negotiations, nothing they just cut it off - so she had no pension or nothing.
“It was only that myself, my brother and my three sisters were there to chip in and give her a few quid here and there; otherwise, she would have had absolutely nothing.
“In a way, she was lucky that my dad passed because she was entitled to a Widow’s Pension then.”
He said has seen his mother “age dramatically” since the letters started arriving.
“She is on medication now for her high blood pressure and anxiety and that,” he said. “She never needed anxiety medication in her life.”
He said the family home will likely need to be sold to settle the debt.
“Luckily, she owns a house because obviously my Dad paid off the mortgage over the years, they own their house,” he said.
“But God forbid, when she dies, the first thing we are going to have to do is sell the house because we are going to have to give the pension office their money and we are going to have pay obviously the money we owe the care home as well.
“So, there is no way that house can go through the family. That house is going to have to be sold when she passes – hopefully that won’t be for a long time. It is just a horrible situation to be in.”