ADVOCATE GENERAL’S OPINION FINDS IRELAND CANNOT REFUSE DISABILITY ALLOWANCE TO DEPENDENT RELATIVE OF EU WORKER
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has released an opinion by the Advocate General in relation to Case C-488/21, Voican v Chief Appeals Officer.
The case concerns GV, a Romanian national, and her daughter AC, a dual Romanian Irish citizen. GV joined her daughter in Ireland in 2017, on the basis that under EU law, some family members, including dependent parents, may join a mobile EU worker in the Member States in which they live and work. The applicant has been financially dependent on her daughter and has also suffered from degenerative changes in her arthritis.
In 2017, GV made an application for Disability Allowance under the Irish Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. This was refused, and the appeal of the decision was also refused. Both decisions stated that the reason for the refusal was that GV did not have a right of residence in Ireland.
On review, it was found that GV, as a dependent direct relative of an EU citizen working in Ireland, had a right of residence, but was not entitled to social assistance payment. It was argued that under Irish law, GV must not become an unreasonable burden on the national social assistance system.
In the Advocate General’s opinion, she stated that the CJEU should embrace a broad concept of family dependency, which should extend to the material, financial, physical and/or emotional support of a family member. Therefore, even if GV would no longer need the financial support of her daughter, she might still fulfil the requirement of dependency which allowed her to join her daughter in the State. Thus, a Member State awarding financial support by way of a social assistance allowance does not terminate the dependency of the supported person.
The opinion highlighted that at the EU level, there is a legislative consensus about the acceptable balance between the interests of free movement of workers between Member States, and the concerns for the welfare systems of each Member State. The result of that consensus is that neither mobile EU workers nor their dependent direct relatives who are residing legally with them can be regarded as an unreasonable burden by that State. In accordance with the principle of equal treatment, such family members can only be regarded as a reasonable or unreasonable burden in the same way that nationals of that State could be regarded as so.
Therefore, a Member State cannot refuse access to special social assistance payments to a dependent direct relative of a mobile EU worker, on the ground that they represent an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system of that State.
Please note that the Advocate General’s opinion is not binding on the CJEU. The full judgement on this case will be given at a later date.
This blog article has been prepared on the basis of current immigration law and policy, which is subject to change. Please keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page where articles relating to updates and changes in immigration law and policy are regularly posted.