A case initiated regarding compliance of the amount of the State social security benefit and disability pension to be granted to disabled persons with the Satversme
On 23 March 2020, the 4th Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On Compliance of Para 2 of the First Part and the Second Part of Section 16 of the Law “On State Pensions” as well as Sub-para 2.2 and 2.3. of the Cabinet Regulation of 22 December 2009 No. 1605 “Regulations Regarding the Amount of the State Social Security Benefit and Funeral Benefit, Procedures for the Review thereof and Procedures for the Granting and Disbursement of the Benefits” with Article 1, the Second Sentence of Article 91 and Article 109 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”.
The Contested Norms
Para 2 of Section 16 (1) of the law “On State Pensions”:
“The disability pension shall be granted depending on the disability group –first, second or third:
2) in the case of Group III disability – the State social security benefit level.”
Section 16 (2) of the law “On State Pensions”:
“The amount of the disability pension of Group I and II may not be less than the State social security benefit to which the following coefficient shall be applied:
in the case of a Group I disability – 1.6;
in the case of a Group II disability –1.4.”
Sub-para 2.2. and Sub-para 2.3. of the Cabinet Regulation of 22 December 2009 No. 1605 “Regulations Regarding the Amount of the State Social Security Benefit and Funeral Benefit, Procedures for the Review thereof and Procedures for the Granting and Disbursement of the Benefits:
“The amount of the State social security benefit shall be as follows:
2.2. disabled persons – 80 euro per month;
2.3. persons disabled since childhood – 122.69 euro per month.”
The Norms of Higher Legal Force
Article 1 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia (hereafter – the Satversme): “Latvia is an independent democratic republic.”
The second sentence of Article 91 of the Satversme: “Human rights shall be realised without discrimination of any kind.
Article 109 of the Satversme: “Everyone has the right to social security in old age, for work disability, for unemployment and in other cases as provided by law.”
The case was initiated on the basis of the application submitted by the Ombudsman (hereafter – the Ombudsman).
The Applicant holds that minimum amount of the State disability pension, set in the contested norms, is insufficient even for satisfying basic needs and is not compatible with human dignity. The minimum amounts of invalidity pensions, which have been defined by taking into account the amount of the State social security benefit and a coefficient set for the respective disability group, had never been substantiated by concrete calculations or definite indicators. Moreover, although the national economy has developed, the amount of the State social security benefit, to which the minimum amount of disability pension is pegged, had not been reviewed for a long period but, when this was done, the financial possibilities of the State rather than the criteria for reviewing the benefit, defined by the State, had been taken into account. Hence, the State has not fulfilled the positive obligation, derived from Article 1 and Article 109 of the Satversme, to review regularly the minimum amount of disability pension to prevent diminishing welfare of disabled persons.
The Applicant notes that, as the result of the contested norms, disabled persons are placed in a situation that is degrading for human dignity. The amount of disability benefit set in the contested norms causes social isolation of the recipients, hinders access to health care services and does not ensure to them equal opportunities compared to the rest of society, for whom the State has created better conditions of economic welfare. Additionally, disabled persons are subject to discrimination also because of their social status. Hence, the contested norm is said to be incompatible also with the principle of prohibition of discrimination included in the second sentence of Article 91 of the Satversme.
The Legal Proceedings
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima and the Cabinet to submit a written reply on the facts of the case and the legal reasoning by 25 May 2020.
The term for preparing the case is 23 August 2020. The Court will decide on the type of procedure and the date for hearing the case after it has been prepared.
Linked case: 2020-19-0103