Guidelines on the Recovery of Debt
Central Overpayments & Debt Management Unit (CODMU) - February 2013
2. General information regarding overpayments
3. Recovery methods and recovery rates
4. Setting up a debt recovery plan
5. Miscellaneous debt management procedures
6. Civil Proceedings
7. Estate Cases
Appendix 1 - Overpayment recovery regulations
Appendix 2 - Debt management forms/letters/communications
These guidelines set out the Department’s debt recovery procedures in accordance with the relevant legislation relating to the repayment of debt.
Section 338 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended) provides that where a person has received moneys from the Department of Social Protection, which he or she was not entitled to receive, the person shall be liable to repay on demand a sum not exceeding the amount of the money received.
The procedures in relation to overpayments are contained in Part 9 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 S.I. No .142 of 2007 (as amended)(see note 1). A copy of Part 9 of the Regulation is at Appendix 1.
Note1: This Regulation replaces Article 23 of the Miscellaneous Provisions Regulations 2006 ( S.I. 571 of 2006) which replaced the Recovery of Overpayments Regulations 2005 ( S.I. 349 of 2005) which replaced S.I. No 227 of 1996 Code of Practice on the Recovery of Overpayments Regulations
1.2 Debt Recovery Strategy
Every effort must be made to prevent overpayments but where they occur they should be regarded as a debt to the Exchequer and every effort must be made to recover the amounts through all available means.
All debts should be pursued. Debt holders should be made aware that a Department of Social Protection debt will remain on their records until it is fully recovered. This may result in a reduction of all future entitlements up to and including state pension. Recourse to civil action to recover significant debts should be considered, where appropriate (see Section 6 “Civil Proceedings”).
Following the death of a customer who owes a debt, the Department may have a claim on any estate remaining (see Section 7 “Estate Cases”).
The Central Overpayments and Debt Management Unit (CODMU) is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the debt recovery strategy in the Department and for monitoring the operation of the strategy.
1.3 Overpayments and Debt Management System
The Overpayments and Debt Management System (ODM) is an integrated area of the SDM system which deals with the management of all debts and overpayments that have been created. While overpayments can originate from any scheme (SDM and non SDM Schemes), all overpayments are managed through the ODM system.
The Department uses the ODM system to trace all debts owed and any transactions made in respect of those debts. ODM is also the system through which the Department reports its overpayments to its annual accounts.
For these reasons it is crucial that all overpayments raised and all recoveries in respect of debts are recorded on the ODM system.
CODMU is available to give advice on all aspects of overpayments and debt recovery - queries should be addressed to the Central Overpayment & Debt Management Unit, Shannon Lodge, Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim at extensions 41641, 41644 or 41645. Queries may also be emailed to Áine Maguire (HEO) at email@example.com.
2. General information regarding overpayments
2.1 What is an Overpayment?
An overpayment is any social welfare assistance or benefit payment which the person who received the amount was not entitled to receive. While legislation and these guidelines relate to all overpayments in all statutory schemes, the same principles may be applied, on an administrative basis, to the non-statutory schemes such as Free Fuel, Back to Work Allowance etc.
2.2 What is a Debt?
A debt is any money owed to the Department arising from an overpayment to a person. A debt may consist of an overpayment or a number of overpayments. Where recovery is being sought for moneys owed to the Department, the amount sought should be the total debt outstanding and not just the amount of the individual overpayment.
Note: Where a debt consists of a number of overpayments any recovery received will be offset against the oldest overpayment first. The age of the overpayment is determined by the date of its entry on the ODM system.
2.3 How do Overpayments arise?
Overpayments can arise on foot of a revised decision by a Deciding Officer or a Designated Person (formerly Community Welfare Officer) and in certain other circumstances.
2.3.1 Revised Decisions by Deciding Officers/Designated Persons
An overpayment is created where a Deciding Officer or a Designated Person makes a revised decision under Section 302 or Section 325 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 (as amended) and the effect of the decision is to reduce a person's entitlement retrospectively.
In deciding whether or not the decision should have retrospective effect, Deciding Officers/Designated Persons are required to have regard to the facts and circumstances relevant to the decision on entitlement. In accordance with section 335 of that Act, the person concerned is liable to repay the amount overpaid to the Department.
2.3.2 Overpayments not arising from Deciding Officer/Designated Person decisions
The liability to repay overpayments which arise otherwise than as a result of a Deciding Officer/Designated Person decision is contained in sections 336, 336(a) and 336(b) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended).
Examples of this category of overpayment are:
- Double cashing e.g. a person reports that s/he did not receive a payment due, a duplicate is issued and both payments are cashed by the person.
- Impersonation e.g. a person makes a claim assuming the identity of another person
- Cashing after death e.g. a relative continues to cash a pension or allowance after the death of the person entitled to it.
2.4 Is an inter-scheme adjustment an overpayment?
No. An inter-scheme adjustment should not be treated as an overpayment.
2.5 Do waiting days give rise to an overpayment?
No. An overpayment does not arise in these cases and they should not be entered on the ODM system.
2.6 Are work week/benefit week overlaps to be recovered?
Yes. Social welfare schemes can go into payment on any day of the week. The working week usually commences on Monday. As a result where a person, who is in receipt of a social welfare payment, takes up employment on a Monday it can result in an overpayment of up to 5 days.
These overpayments must be entered on the ODM system and are fully recoverable.
2.7 Is an uncashed payment an overpayment?
No. An uncashed payment (cheque, payable order etc.) is not a payment and therefore an overpayment does not arise. Where an overpayment is recorded on the basis of a client being issued with a payment which he/she subsequently returns uncashed, the overpayment should be cancelled.
2.8 What if the person had entitlement to another scheme during the period overpaid
The amount of an overpayment to be repaid may be reduced by the amount of any other social welfare payment which the person would otherwise have been entitled to(see note 2). This does not apply to decisions recorded under Section 302(A) or325(A) Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended) (fraudulent overpayments) where the offset of another payment is not permitted .(see note 3)
Note 2: Article 246(3) of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 (as amended) refers.
Note 3: Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) (Amendment) (No. 3) (Overpayments) Regulations 2011 (SI 392 of 2011) refers.
Where an overpayment is identified and there is clear evidence that the person had an entitlement to a payment under another scheme during the period overpaid, the other payment must be awarded and then all or part of the arrears should be withheld to recover the overpayment.
2.9 Should all overpayments be recorded?
Yes. There is a statutory requirement to report all overpayments and associated recoveries irrespective of the value, cause or scheme of origin of the overpayment.
Overpayments should be recorded by entering the details on the ODM system using debt reporting forms (OP1 and OP2). Where access to ODM is not available all OP1 and OP2 forms should be sent to CODMU in Carrick-on-Shannon where they will be entered on the system.
2.10 When should an overpayment be cancelled?
An overpayment should be cancelled when the overpayment never existed. The following are examples of cases where the overpayment should be cancelled:
- the overpayment was entered in error on the ODM system;
- there is a decision by an Appeals Officer the effect of which is that no overpayment has occurred; or
- there is a decision by a Deciding Officer/Designated Person the effect of which is that no overpayment has occurred.
An overpayment may also be cancelled where a payment was encashed by a person other than the named customer, e.g. where a person dies and somebody continues to cash their payment. In this case, the overpayment is raised against the PPSN of the customer, then cancelled. An overpayment for the same amount is then raised against the PPSN of the perpetrator (See circular RSO76/11).
3. Recovery methods and recovery rates
Debt holders should be made aware that a DSP debt will remain on their records until fully recovered. This will result in a reduction of all future entitlements up to and including State Pension. Following the death of a customer who owns a debt, the Department has a claim on any estate remaining.
When an overpayment has been assessed you should prepare a recovery plan on how the recovery is to be achieved. In preparing this recovery plan consideration needs to be given to the method and rate of recovery to be used. The method and rate of recovery should be such as to ensure the recovery of the overpayment in the shortest time possible.
3.2 What methods are available to recover debt?
Overpayments may be recovered by:
- withholding arrears due to the person;
- deduction from payments due to the person;
- payment of a lump sum by the person;
- regular payments by the person to the Department;
- recovery from the estate; or
- a combination of the above.
3.3 What should be taken into account when determining the recovery rate?
When determining the rate of recovery you should give consideration to the following factors:
- getting repayment as soon as possible;
- not causing undue hardship to the person, having regard to their circumstances and their overall ability to pay; and/or
- any case made by the person.
Recovery from Social Welfare payments
3.4 When would a debt be recovered by withholding arrears?
When arrears are due to a person, all or part of the arrears due may be withheld to repay a debt owed to the Department. The circumstances of the case should be considered to establish if it is appropriate to release a portion of the arrears to the person.
In all cases, the person must be informed of the Department's intention to withhold the arrears and offered the opportunity to give his/her views on the proposal. However, arrears can be withheld without the agreement of the person.
3.5 When would recovery be made by deduction from payments?
Where a person is in receipt of a social welfare payment, any outstanding debt, irrespective of scheme of origin, is recoverable by making ongoing deductions from the current payment.
Debts under any scheme may be recovered from any other social welfare payment with the exception of Child Benefit. Recovery deductions may only be made from Child Benefit payments for Child Benefit overpayments. However, Child Benefit overpayments may be recovered from all other payments.
The Department has decided that debts from any other scheme should not be recovered from Bereavement Grant or Widowed Parents Grant.
3.6 What amount should be deducted from a payment?
The amount proposed should be the maximum repayment that the person can afford in order to recover the overpayment as quickly as possible.
When deductions are being considered, Officers should have regard to the following:
- The value and nature of the overpayment debt; and/or
- The person’s circumstances, their ability to pay and the rate they can afford, by reference to whether or not they have other income or means.
Section 13 of the Social Welfare Act, 2012 amends the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 in relation to the recovery of social welfare overpayments by way of weekly deductions from a person’s ongoing social welfare entitlements.
This amendment allows for a deduction of an amount up to 15% of the weekly personal rate payable to a customer for the purposes of the recovery of an overpayment (in both fraud and non-fraud cases) without the customer’s consent.
Although the Department is empowered to deduct 15% of the weekly personal rate payable in respect of an overpayment without the customer’s consent, officers can consider a lower deduction in exceptional circumstances. Such cases should be reviewed over time with a view to increasing the recovery rate, where and when it is considered appropriate.
3.7 Is the person's agreement needed to make deductions from a payment?
Section 13 of the Social Welfare Act, 2012 amends the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 in relation to the recovery of social welfare overpayments by way of weekly deductions from a person’s ongoing social welfare entitlements. This amendment allows for a deduction of an amount up to 15% of the weekly personal rate payable to a customer for the purposes of the recovery of an overpayment (in both fraud and non-fraud cases) without the customer’s consent. Any deductions in excess of 15% require the consent of the customer.
In all cases, the person must be informed of the Department's intention to make ongoing deductions from a social welfare payment and offered the opportunity to give his/her views on the proposal. Any views offered by the person should be considered before deductions are made from a social welfare payment.
Note: if the person does not reply within the 21 day period, recovery by deductions (up to 15%) should be initiated.
Recovery from people who are not in receipt of a Social Welfare payment
3.8 Non-social welfare recipients
When seeking to recover debts from a person who is no longer in receipt of a social welfare payment the following steps should be followed:
a) the person’s current address should be verified.
b) the current financial circumstances of the person should be established.
c) the person should then be written to requesting full repayment or proposals for repayment by instalments (see para 5.5). It should be explained to the person that the debt will remain until it is repaid and they should be encouraged to engage with the Department regarding the debt.
d) the case should be monitoried.
e) if no response/agreement is received and the recovery plan cannot be put in place, the following procedure should be adopted:
- Where the outstanding debt is under €1,000, it should be noted on the ODM system and on the case file that no response/agreement was received. The recovery of the overpayment should be re-activated when the person is in contact again with the Department. No file with an outstanding overpayment should ever be destroyed.
- Where the debt is €1,000 or more and whereabouts of the debt holder are known refer the case to CODMU for follow-up action.
- Scheme area/Local Office must ensure that all supporting papers are available for cases being assigned to CODMU, if requested. There is no need to send the physical file to CODMU unless it is requested.
- See also section 6 on Civil Proceedings.
4. Implementing a debt recovery plan
4.1 How do I notify the person of the proposed method and rate of recovery?
When you have decided on the proposed method of recovery you should write to the person using the letters on the ODM system (see Appendix 2 for the list of letters and when they are appropriate).
4.2 Is a reminder sent if no reply is received to the recovery plan proposal?
In cases where the person is in receipt of a social welfare payment, reminders need not be sent. In these cases the recovery plan (up to 15% of the personal rate) can be implemented when 21 days have elapsed from the date of the recovery proposal letter. If any correspondence is returned ‘gone away’,’ not known’, etc. the payment the customer is in receipt of should be reviewed.
In other cases, where no reply is received from the person and 21 days have elapsed since the date the letter issued, a reminder letter from ODM, should be issued. Where no reply is received to that letter within 14 days, a further reminder from ODM should issue. Where no reply is received, the procedure as set out at paragraph 3.8 (e) should be followed.
4.3 What if the Person challenges the recovery plan?
Where the person challenges the recovery proposal, then all comments, facts and circumstances which the person brings to notice must be carefully considered.
Where it is clear, from the information provided, that the recovery proposal cannot be achieved, you should prepare a new recovery plan having taken the circumstances into consideration.
Note: Following consideration of the facts and circumstances, if it is considered appropriate, deductions up to a maximum of 15% of the person’s personal rate can be implemented without the customer’s agreement.
5. Miscellaneous debt management procedures
5.1 What should I do where the person appeals the decision of a Deciding Officer/Designated Person which gave rise to the overpayment?
In these circumstances, repayment should be postponed pending the outcome of the appeal.
5.2 What is the procedure where the person makes a new claim?
When a person makes a claim application, the Scheme Area/Local Office/Branch Office/ Designated Person (formerly CWO) processing the claim must check ODM to establish whether the person has an outstanding debt owing to the Department. Where there is a debt and no recovery plan is in place a recovery proposal (“Proposal Recovery No Amount”) must issue. The procedure to be followed is the same as for a new overpayment. It is the responsibility of the person processing a new claim to establish if there is an outstanding debt owed on any social welfare payment before putting a new claim into payment.
5.3 What is the procedure where the claim is assigned to another office or the person becomes entitled to payment under a different scheme?
Where the claim is transferred to another office or the person becomes entitled to a payment under a different scheme, the new office/scheme area must check the claim/ ODM system to establish if there is a recovery plan in progress.
Where a recovery plan is in progress this should be continued. Where there is no recovery plan in progress, the overpayment case history should be examined and the procedures to be followed are the same as for a new overpayment.
5.4 What should be done when the person ceases to claim a benefit/assistance?
When a person ceases to claim, a check should be carried out to establish if there is a debt outstanding and where there is a debt outstanding, efforts should be made to recover or to continue to recover the debt (see paragraph 3.8).
5.5 What are instalment repayments?
These are repayments of the debt by instalments. The following payment methods can be used to repay by instalment:
- payment by standing order;
- making payment directly to the Department's Bank Account;
- cash payment, through Local Office/ Branch Office; or
- cheque or postal money order.
Where at all possible arrangements for regular instalment payments should be made by standing order as this is the most efficient way of ensuring timely and regular payments.
5.6 What is the procedure when a cash payment is received?
Where a cash payment (cash/cheque/postal money order) is received, the amount of the payment should be sent to Accounts Branch using form 222. Accounts Branch will inform CODMU of the recovery.
5.7 What happens if a cheque "bounces"?
On receipt of a notification from Accounts Branch that there were insufficient funds in the customer's bank account to meet a cheque i.e. the cheque "bounces" the original cash payment transaction on ODM should be cancelled by the officer. This action will restore the debt balance to what it was before the cheque payment transaction was entered on ODM.
When cancelling the transaction, the reason selected should be 'Refer to Payer'.
5.8 What happens where an EFT payment is made after a customer dies?
Section 340 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 (as amended) requires that financial institutions repay such amounts to the Department.
5.9 What is the procedure if a person stops making repayments?
If a person, who is in receipt of a social welfare payment, is making repayments other than by deduction and subsequently stops making repayments, consideration should be given to implementing a recovery plan by deduction from their social welfare payment.
Where a person who is not in receipt of a social welfare payment stops making repayments towards their debt, a letter (“Defaulter Reminder”) should be sent to the person requesting re-commencement of payment. Where repayment does not re-commence a further letter (“Legal Proceedings”) should issue. Where no response is received or where payment does not recommence, the procedure as set out at paragraph 3.8 (e) should be followed.
5.10 What is the procedure when the debt has been fully recovered?
When the debt has been fully recovered the person should be informed that the debt has been cleared. The deduction should be stopped on the payment system. The ODM system will place the case in the Officer's case load. The Officer should then issue the letter “Debt Recovered” to inform the person that the debt has been cleared.
In exceptional cases an over recovery may occur and if so the person should be informed using “Debt Over-recovered” letter and arrangements should be made to refund the amount over recovered by sending a refund request to Accounts Branch. See circular RDO45/11 for further information.
Note: Cases with credit balances should be carefully examined before consideration of a refund as a credit balance does not always denote an over recovery. There may be an overpayment not yet posted on ODM.
6. Civil Proceedings
6.1 What is the role of the Central Prosecutions Section with regard to debt management?
Civil proceedings may be initiated to recover an outstanding debt and Central Prosecutions Section (CPS) handles the initiation of proceedings. Guidance on the initiation of proceedings is available from CPS. Please refer in the first instance to Circular CPS 2/11.
6.2 When should civil proceedings be considered?
Civil proceedings should be considered when a person has not made a reasonable effort to repay a debt. Procedures regarding collection of the overpayment within the Department by Departmental staff should be exhausted before civil proceedings are considered. Also, civil proceedings should only be taken where the overpayment exceeds the cost of taking the proceedings and where the person concerned has sufficient resources available to discharge the debt. In general, civil proceedings would not be considered in the case of a person who is in receipt of a social welfare payment.
For cases where the person is no longer in contact with the Department, where the debt is €1,000 or more, and where reasonable efforts to recoup the debt have not been successful, the matter should in the first instance be referred to CODMU.
6.3 What is the time limit for taking civil proceedings?
The time limit for taking civil proceedings is normally six years from the date of the Deciding Officer’s/Designated Person’s or the Appeals Officer’s decision. However, it may also be from the date on which a written admission of the debt due is made, or the date the last repayment was made. Civil proceedings for the recovery of overpayments against the estate of a deceased person must be taken within six years from the date of the receipt of the Schedule of Assets.
7. Estate Cases
7.1 What are Estate Cases?
Any person who is receiving a social assistance payment (i.e. a means tested payment) is obliged to notify the Department of any increases in his/her means. Where, subsequent to the death of such a person, it comes to light that not all of the deceased person’s means were reported or disclosed and it is found that an overpayment has occurred, the Department can recover the amount overpaid from the estate of the deceased. These cases are called Estate Cases.
7.2 Who deals with Estate cases?
These cases are dealt with by Estate Sections, in Social Welfare Services, Sligo and Longford.
7.3 How does the Department identify Estate Cases?
There is an obligation, on the personal representative of a deceased person, who was at any time in receipt of a social assistance payment, to:
a. Give notice of his or her intention to distribute the assets of that person and to furnish a schedule of such assets at least 3 months before commencing to distribute the assets;
b. Ensure that sufficient assets are retained to repay any assistance overpaid; and
c. Be personally liable to repay the amount of an overpayment outstanding as a result of failure to meet these obligations.
7.4 How is the debt recovered in Estate cases?
The repayment of the debt is sought from the estate of the deceased person. Repayment of the debt is to be pursued to the extent that the assets of the deceased allow after funeral expenses and normal solicitor's fees have been accounted for from the estate. The sum owed should be refunded by way of a single payment.
Where repayment of the entire overpayment is not forthcoming, a settlement for a lesser sum may be acceptable in certain cases, having regard to the disposable assets in the estate and/or the cost effectiveness of alternative methods of pursuing repayment.
7.5 What happens if the personal representative distributes the assets without informing the Department?
Where the assets are distributed by the personal representative of the deceased person, in breach of the legislation, the personal representative becomes in law the person liable to repay the overpayment.
The Department may initiate civil proceedings against the personal representative for recovery, depending on the circumstances of the case. Civil proceedings for the recovery of overpayments against the estate of a deceased person must be taken within six years from the date of the receipt of the Schedule of Assets.
SOCIAL WELFARE (CONSOLIDATED CLAIMS, PAYMENTS AND CONTROL) REGULATIONS 2007
S.I. No. 142 of 2007 (as amended)(see note 4)
Note 4: as amended - up to and including amendments made by Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control)(Amendment)(No. 1)(Overpayments) Regulations 2013 - SI 24 of 2013
242. Provision of information on overpayments.
243. Means of recovery of overpayment.
244. Determining the method of recovery.
245. Recovery of overpayment by means of deduction from social welfare payment.
246. Reduction or cancellation of sum to be repaid.
247. Proceedings for recovery of overpayment.
248. Obligations of personal representatives.
249. Decisons as to the application of this chapter
Provision of information on overpayments
242. Where an overpayment has been assessed against a person, in accordance with Part 11 of the Principal Act, that person shall be -
a. informed of the factors which gave rise to the overpayment,
b. informed of the amount of overpayment,
c. informed of the proposed method of recovery, and
d. afforded an opportunity to bring to the notice of the Department or Executive as appropriate -
i. any view he or she may wish to offer on the assessment of the overpayment,
ii. any view he or she may wish to offer on the proposed method of recovery of the overpayment,
iii. any facts or circumstances which he or she considers relevant to the recovery of the overpayment,
before any decision is made regarding the recovery of the overpayment.
Means of recovery of overpayment
243. The Minister or the Executive, as appropriate, shall make every effort to recover overpayments in full having regard to the provisions of these Regulations and shall, subject to these Regulations, determine the method and rate of repayment and such repayment may take the form of lump sum payment or periodic payments or both.
Determining the method of recovery
244. When determining the method and rate of repayment of an overpayment, the Minister or the Executive shall take account of
a. the amount of the overpayment and the circumstances in which it arose, and
b. any facts or circumstances relevant to the recovery which have come to the notice of the Department or the Executive.
Recovery of overpayment by means of deduction from social welfare payment
245. (1) Where a person is required in accordance with section 335, 336, 337 or 338 to repay an amount of any—
(c) family income supplement, or
(d) continued payment for qualified children,
and that person is or becomes entitled to a payment specified in paragraphs (a) to (d), recovery of such benefit, assistance, supplement or payment may, without prejudice to any other method of recovery, take the form of—
(i) withholding all or part of—
(I) any arrears of such benefit, assistance, supplement or payment, or
(II) any grant or gratuity under Part 2 or Part 3 of the Principal Act,
to which that person is or becomes entitled,
(ii) making deductions from ongoing payments of any such benefit, assistance, supplement or payment to which that person is or becomes entitled, having regard to the total amount to be recovered and the person’s ability to repay, or
(iii) any combination of the methods specified in paragraphs (i) or (ii).
(2) Where repayment of any amount of benefit, assistance, supplement or payment is made by way of weekly deduction from the weekly rate of any such benefit or assistance in accordance with sub-article (1)(ii), it shall not, without the prior written consent of the person liable to repay that amount, exceed the percentage of such weekly rate of benefit or assistance specified in section 341(7A).
(3) In this article ‘weekly rate’ has the meaning assigned to it in section 341(7B).
Reduction or cancellation of sum to be repaid
246. (1) The amount of an overpayment to be repaid may be reduced or cancelled where the overpayment arose because of –
(a) a failure by the Department to act within a reasonable period on information which was provided by or on behalf of the person concerned, or
(b) an error by the Department,
and the person concerned could not reasonably have been expected to be aware that a failure or error had occurred.
(2) The amount to be repaid shall, where the facts or circumstances warrant, be reduced to the amount accepted in settlement.
(3) Other than in the case of a person to whom section 342A applies, the amount of an overpayment to be repaid may be reduced by the amount of any other payment referred to in paragraphs (a) to (d) of article 245(1) to which the person would otherwise have been entitled in the period to which the overpayment relates had he or she not been in receipt of the payment which gave rise to the overpayment.
(4) In determining whether repayment of an overpayment is to be reduced or cancelled, account shall be taken of any omission made by or on behalf of the person concerned, which contributed in whole or in part to the overpayment being made.
(5) The repayment of an overpayment may be cancelled where there is no reasonable prospect of securing repayment in whole or in part.
Proceedings for recovery of overpayment
247. These Regulations are without prejudice to any right of the Minister or the Executive, as the case may be, to recover overpayments by proceedings taken under statute or simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.
Obligations of personal representatives
248. These Regulations do not affect the obligation of the personal representative of a deceased person who was at any time in receipt of a social assistance payment to
a. give notice of his or her intention to distribute the assets of that person and to furnish a schedule of such assets at least 3 months before commencing to distribute the assets,
b. ensure that sufficient assets are retained to repay any assistance overpaid, and
c. be personally liable to repay the amount of an overpayment outstanding as a result of failure to meet these obligations.
Decisons as to the application of this chapter
249. All questions which arise in the application of this Chapter shall, other than in the case of supplementary welfare allowance, be determined by an officer of the Minister or in the case of supplementary welfare allowance, by an employee of the Executive, as appropriate, for this purpose.
The letters (communications) available on ODM are listed and briefly explained below. These forms are generated automatically by the ODM system and should be used to communicate with debtors. Instructions on how to access and use these letters are contained in the ODM Training Manual.
Proposal Recovery: This letter is the initial proposal for recovery of debt. This letter is used in relation to a particular overpayment (the most recent) but, where appropriate, will also include the figure for the total debt owed by the customer.
This letter includes a form to enable the customer to provide comments and agreement to a deduction from their social welfare payment.
- Option “Weekly Deductions A” is selected where the proposed deduction will reduce the customer’s personal rate by more than 15%
- Option “Weekly Deductions B” is selected where the proposed deduction will not reduce the debtor’s personal rate by more than 15%.
The proposal recovery letter also contains an information note on Cash Refunds, Standing Order Mandate and Information leaflet on a Standing Order.
No Amount: Same as Proposal Recovery above, but may or may not refer to a specific overpayment, i.e. dates of overpayment period not included.
Reminder: “Reminder 1” (first reminder) or “Reminder 2” (second reminder) is selected, as appropriate.
Legal Proceedings: Where payments have not started or resumed, this notice advises the customer customer that the case will be referred to CODMU for follow up, to include possible legal action.
Signing Off: Change in method of recovery. This should be issued when a person ceases to claim a social welfare payment and repayment by deduction ceases. Seeking cash refunds. Information on cash refunds and Standing Order Mandate included. (5 documents).
Signed off reminder: Also called “Reminder ODM 4” (this is a reminder for the person who doesn’t respond to the initial “Proposal Recovery Signing Off” letter.
Defaulter/Reminder: Notification and/or reminder to defaulter to recommence repayments.
Debt Recovered: Notice of clearance of debt.
Over-recovered: Notice of over recovery of the debt.
Response: Reply to query re debt.
Response PPO: Reply to query re debt PPO cases.