Social Security benefits abroad (FOI)
Social Security benefits abroad (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 07 September 2016.
Regarding the Freedom of Information request "Social Security payments abroad (FOI)":
What steps are taken to ensure that the recipient of benefits is not dead, has not remarried or has recovered from their incapacity? For example, what form of evidence is sufficient, are there visits by Department staff to foreign countries?
All Jersey’s benefits have strict rules about what happens if a person’s eligibility to claim them changes, and benefits can only be paid abroad where there is a mechanism to ensure that changes are recorded and notified. In order to ensure benefit is not paid incorrectly to individuals whose circumstances have changed, through marriage or divorce, or who have deceased, two approaches are taken:
1. UK – we have a mortality screening process that covers all individuals and is reported to us on a monthly basis. This information is supplied by a 3rd party tracing bureau.
2. We check people are alive and their marital status by following a ‘life certification’ process which is undertaken for people living outside of the UK; this requires a certification statement to be signed by the claimant or their agent and the statement needs to be witnessed by a responsible person. There is a limited time period for this to be completed and the claim would be suspended if the documentation was not received within the stated timeframe.
If a person is receiving a benefit where a change of circumstances is possible, their legal responsibility to notify the Social Security Department of changes is reinforced as part of every written communication from us. We write to each customer on a regular basis and each letter contains clear warning text similar to the below:
Any person who knowingly makes any false statement or false representation for the purpose of obtaining benefit or pension for themselves or for someone else commits a criminal offence for which they may be prosecuted, and may also be required to repay the amount fraudulently obtained.
Changes of circumstances which may affect payment of your benefit:
If you are not certain whether any of these changes of circumstances affect you, you must contact the Social Security Department for advice.
Incapacity benefit can only be paid abroad where the reciprocal country has a system that provides a robust process to guarantee that medical conditions are accurately and consistently monitored. Incapacity awards are reduced or removed when evidence is presented that the condition has changed.
With regard to what evidence would be acceptable, the Social Security Department would expect a report from the medical board and or the GP in the country where the review took place. This would be passed either to the department’s medical board doctors for their review and to make the ultimate decision regarding extension and level of benefit, or for consideration by a determining officer of the department depending on the benefit type.
Social Security staff do not make visits out of the Island in regard to benefit claimants as this would not be a good use of resources. Where there is any doubt over the validity of a claim, or the evidence provided in support of a claim, decision-making power is held by the Social Security Department’s medical board doctors or determining officers.