Loss of social-security rights as a result of excessive delays

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The Ombudsman has repeatedly pointed out the problem of long delays with which the administration responds to citizens’ requests. For certain groups of citizens in financial crises, a delayed response could constitute a life-death matter. The phenomenon of excessive delays has been further aggravated by the increased number of citizens who, uncertain of future developments and the limited funds of the social security organizations, retire and apply for their pension.


The fixed position of the Ombudsman expressed in its annual reports and on all occasions is that delays constitute an infringement of legality and affect the citizen’s trust in public administration.
The Ombudsman has proposed organisational and legislative measures to cope with the organisational shortcomings and financial restrictions which are causing the excessive delays.


Some of the proposals are the following:

  •  the examination of the possibility for public sector employees who retire to be paid a sum of money by their service equal to a six-month pension, that could be offset against the final sum of pension.
  •  the adoption of specific transparent criteria for the acceleration of the procedure of processing social security requests, in such a way as to give priority to those who are facing serious problems and are in real need.

 


A characteristic case of losing one’s rights, as a consequence of the excessive delays, is that of a pensioner who waited for 3 years for his lump sum allowance and died without ever being paid. In the meantime his wife also died and his inheritors were not eligible to this allowance, according to a 1957 Act, which had not provided for such excessive delays, since it was beyond the legislator’s imagination.


The Ombudsman proposed amendment of the 1957 provision to entitle inheritors to receive the allowance in similar cases.

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