Monday 23 April 2018

Grieving widower 'shocked' after State asked for late wife's €5.90 pension bill

Peadar with the letter received from the Payroll Shared Services Centre
Peadar with the letter received from the Payroll Shared Services Centre

Kathy Armstrong

A grieving widower was "shocked and angry" to receive a letter from the State saying that his late wife owes €5.90 after her pension was mistakenly paid after her death.

Margaret "Peggy" Daly passed away in October and her husband Peader told RTÉ's Liveline how he was upset last week to receive a letter from the the Payroll Shared Services Centre asking him to pay €5.90.

Peggy, who was from Tuamgraney in Co Clare, worked as a cleaner part time in a garda station for 18 years, she received a pension of €3.75 every two weeks, as well as a partial State Pension.

Peadar said he was stunned when he received a letter requesting that he settle her estate.

The letter said: "My purpose of writing to you is that Margaret was in receipt of a pension from this office, in order to finalise her pension I would be grateful if you could forward the original death cert and it will be returned immediately after copying by registered post.

"As the pension was paid directly into Mrs Daly's bank account, overpayment has arisen.

"On November 2 €3.75 and on November 16 €3.76. in total €7.51 was lodged to the account.

"As Mrs Daly died before the date it was issued, the money was not due to be paid.

"As Mrs Daly's estate is owed a balance of €1.61, and this office is owed €7.51, there is an outstanding balance of €5.90."

Speaking to Joe Duffy, Peadar said that he has "no problem" sending the birth certificate or paying the money but he felt it was poor timing.

"I was shocked and angry, I couldn't believe that someone would send out a letter for a repayment that small.

"I have no problem sending on the original death certificate .

"I didn't notify them about her death right away because  it was the least of my troubles but she was getting that money every two weeks, €3.75.

"I'm not saying she should have been getting any more but to sent this out shortly after my wife has died is something, did they expect me to sit down straight away after my wife had died to let them know? I'd forgotten about them."

Peadar, who was due to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary with Peggy later this year, said he didn't think bereaved relatives would be requested to pay such small amounts.

He said: "If they're sending a letter like this out to me then they're sending them out to other people for very small sums of money.

"I won't be in any hurry to send it on but it's no bother to me to send on the €5.90 or the death certificate, I have no problem with that."

A spokeswoman for the Payroll Shared Service Centre apologised for any hurt caused to Mr Daly and his family.

She said in a statement released to Independent.ie: "The Payroll Shared Service Centre would firstly like to extend our sincerest sympathies to Mr Daly and his family on the death of his wife. We apologise for any hurt caused by the letter Mr Daly received.

"It was not our intention to cause any upset to him at this very difficult time. Unfortunately Mr Daly did not contact us directly on this matter as we would have liked to resolve this with him directly.

"The Payroll Shared Service Centre pays pension payments for over 60,000 public service pensions.

"We know these pensioners are our mums and dads and the families of people who contributed to public service life, the economy and we value their contribution enormously.

"Unfortunately and sadly, approximately 20 times a month on average the situation arises where a payment to a pensioner is made before the payroll centre has been notified of the death."

She continue to say that issue of a minimum amount for repayment is under review.

"The letter issued is standard practice to recover that payment which is taxpayer’s money.

"This practice is common across the public service, including civil service, An Garda Siochana, teachers, the HSE, the military and so on.

"At present, there is no minimum amount specified in the policy that should not be sought for repayment. This very issue was brought to our attention recently and we are seeking clarification on it," the statement said.

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