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1979-1987 : Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Social Security Appeals

Below is the text of Mr Major's written Parliamentary Answer on Social Security Appeals on 19th May 1986.


Mrs. Renee Short Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the number of social security appeals which have been referred by the Social Security Commissioners to the European Court of Justice; and what was the ruling in each case, during the last five years.

Mr. Major During the period 1981-86, the Social Security Commissioners referred five cases to the European Court of Justice. Rulings on three of these are awaited. The rulings of the two cases received are as follows:

(1) The issue concerned the applicability of Community overlapping benefit provisions and whether a divorced woman residing in the United Kingdom could continue to receive United Kingdom child benefit for the same period and in respect of the same children for whom a corresponding benefit was being paid in the Republic of Ireland to her former husband.

The court ruled:

"i. the provision for suspension contained in the first sentence of Article 10(1)(a) of Regulation No 574/72 of the Council of 21.3.72 must be interpreted as meaning that it applies whenever the institution of another Member State has in fact granted family benefits to a worker in respect of the same child, in pursuance of Article 73 of Regulation No 1408/71 of the Council of 14.6.71, without it being necessary to examine whether all the conditions for the grant of those benefits are satisfied under the legislation of that other Member State.

ii. the second sentence of Article 10(1)(a) of Regulation No 574/72 must be interpreted as meaning that it applies to a divorced spouse."

This ruling extended the meaning of the word "spouses" in the relevant EC provisions to include "former spouses" so as to prevent the overlapping benefit provisions from operating unjustly in the case of divorced claimants of family benefits. As the claimant was working in the United Kingdom, she continued to receive the United Kingdom benefit and the Irish benefit was suspended.

(2) The issue concerned the application of Community provisions on the taking into account of contributions paid in another member state for the purpose of entitlement to sickness benefit/invalidity benefit, where those contributions had been paid after, rather than before, the period of the claim for which the United Kingdom was responsible.

The court ruled:

only the legislation of the Member State in whose territory the worker is or was last employed is applicable with regard to sickness benefit by virtue of Article 13(2)(a) of Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 of the Council of 14 June 1971. The competent institution or institutions of the Member States are competent to aggregate the insurance periods pursuant to Article 18 of that regulation;

ii. invalidity benefit due under the legislation of a Member State following a period of incapacity for work during which the worker received benefits in respect of that incapacity, including benefit from another Member State, which is to be taken into account pursuant to Article 40(3) of Regulation No 1408/71, may, where appropriate, be validly reduced pursuant to Article 46(3) of that regulation."

This ruling means that, in deciding a claim to sickness benefit, contributions paid in another member state are to be taken into account only if they were paid prior to the period of the current claim.