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An internally displaced mother received assistance in obtaining her son’s disability benefits

Publication date: July 10, 2024

A displaced woman from Luhansk oblast contacted the NGO Civic Platform after receiving a call from social services. She was informed that she had been illegally receiving part of her son’s disability allowance for three years.

Olha* is from Luhansk and chose freedom and independence in 2014. She left her hometown and moved with her son, who has been disabled since birth, to the government-controlled part of Luhansk oblast. Unfortunately, Olha’s husband chose the other side.

The family had to build their future life together without their father. Olha Petrivna and her son lived in Bilovodsk, Luhansk oblast, for the first eight years. The boy studied, and his mother worked: she had a small business – a retail shop in the local market selling household chemicals. The income was small, but together with social benefits, it allowed the family to cover their basic needs. Olha Petrivna registered her business, and everything seemed to be going well. 

In 2022, after the start of the full-scale invasion, the family had to move for the second time – to the town of Kamianske in the Dnipro oblast. The state allocated the mother and son a room in a dormitory. Olha started planning a new life. She again applied for social assistance as an internally displaced person and continued to receive benefits for her child’s disability from the Bilovodsk Social Service.

In time, she decided to transfer all her documents to Dnipro oblast. It made sense because her son’s disability would soon need to be confirmed, and it would be easier to do so in a new place. Olha Petrivna wrote an application to the Social Security authorities and waited for her file to be transferred.

That is until she received a call from the social welfare office in Kamianske, whose employees informed her that she had been receiving part of her child’s disability payments illegally. 

Hanna Ziubina, Civic Platform lawyer.

  • “The child disability allowance is paid to one of the parents (guardians) and includes a small percentage called a supplement. It is a certain amount of support for a person who is unable to work because they are taking care of a disabled child. However, Olha’s son’s disability was such that the mother did not need to be with him 24 hours a day.  Therefore, she was able to work. Accordingly, Olha should not have received this allowance during the three years of her entrepreneurial activity. But she was unaware of this,” says Hanna Ziubina, a lawyer with the NGO Civic Platform.

So when she got a call from Social Services, she was worried. Had she done something illegal? She immediately turned to the NGO Civic Platform for legal assistance.

  • “We assured Olha Petrivna that she was not in danger and that it was a misunderstanding on the part of the social security authorities, who had not explained to her the structure of the benefit, that the payment consisted of a child benefit and a supplement for the guardian. And that she will simply have to return to the state the money she received as an allowance for the period of her work, namely entrepreneurial activity,” says Hanna Ziubina.

The lawyer accompanied the client to the local social security office, where the woman wrote to request that the funds paid to her be recalculated and that the debt be deducted from the next payment.

  • “Olha is doing well now. She is already planning to open her new shop,” the lawyer concludes.

*Name changed for ethical reasons.

The material was created with the support of GlobalGiving, an international charity platform, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The Legal Development Network is solely responsible for the publication’s content.

The Legal Development Network’s online chat is open daily from 10:00 to 16:00. Lawyers from human rights organizations that are members of the Legal Development Network provide individual consultations.

P. S. More relevant information on legal and humanitarian issues – is in the special section #StandWithUkraine. It accumulates materials that may be useful to those who suffer, whose rights are violated as a result of the war between russia and Ukraine.

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