Dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits be­ing con­fis­cated

Kathimerini English - - Focus - YIANNIS ELAFROS

The os­ten­si­ble shieldof so-called pro­tected bank ac­counts, which is sup­posed to pre­vent the con­fis­ca­tion of cer­tain deposits for debt pur­poses, is full of holes and does not pro­tect fam­i­lies in need, as it should. Kathimerini has learned that com­plaints have been made to the Om­buds­man re­gard­ing a se­ries of state agen­cies which have raided a num­ber of these sup­pos­edly pro­tected ac­counts.

In one case, a free­lance work­ers’ fund (OAEE) pen­sioner was or­dered to re­turn a ben­e­fit he had re­ceived in the past. The law al­lows for pay­ments to be made in in­stall­ments of up to 25 per­cent of his pen­sion – mean­ing that if his pen­sion is too low for the re­main­ing 75 per­cent to cover his needs, the in­stall­ment can be be­low 25 per­cent. How­ever, OAEE has or­dered banks to with­hold the full 25 per­cent in all such cases, re­gard­less of any prob­lems this would cre­ate for pensioners.

The Om­buds­man has also re­ceived com­plaints about the con­fis­ca­tion of ben­e­fits for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties, as al­though the money is paid into pro­tected ac­counts, there have been in­stances where it was taken away due to debts owed by the chil­dren’s par­ents.

The Om­buds­man is now propos­ing that such ben­e­fits be pro­tected if they are granted to peo­ple in fi­nan­cial dis­tress whose sur­vival de­pends on them.

Bank ac­counts that are sup­pos­edly pro­tected from con­fis­ca­tion have been raided by au­thor­i­ties.

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