December 22, 2014
Supreme Court orders pensions payment
The Supreme Court yesterday aimed its fire at President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s administration, forcefully calling on it to pay up pensions owed to retirees who have filed lawsuits before judges.
In the same ruling, the highest tribunal decided that the Federal Social Security Appeals Court will no longer concentrate all the cases involving pensioners, which will be analyzed by the different appeals courts depending on the jurisdictions in which the lawsuits were filed.
The Social Security Court was created during Carlos Menem’s era (1989-99) and some of its detractors said that its main aim was to hold up the legal proceedings started by pensioners.
“This is an institutional quagmire,” the Supreme Court justices said yesterday in a ruling. The members of the highest tribunal also passed an administrative resolution urging the other two branches of state to take action to regularize the retiree situation.
The court requested the government to urge the National Social Security agency (ANSeS) to obey the ruling repeatedly issued by the highest tribunal ordering the payment of pension adjustments owed to retiree.
The Court also addressed the Congress and asked lawmakers to create new tribunals to examine cases involving social security issues.
“Only five percent of pensioners sue because they are not happy with their pensions,” ANSeS head Diego Bossio said yesterday after the ruling was known. Bossio revealed that over the pat few months the agency had paid 1.761 billion pesos.
“By 2016, there won’t be any lawsuits filed against the state,” Bossio highlighted.
However, the figures do seem alarming. According to information provided by the Federal Social Security Appeals Court, by June 2013 there were 279,856 cases being analyzed by first instance courts and 187,076 cases being examined by second instance courts.
The lawsuit was filed against the ANSeS social security agency by pensioner Hugo Pedraza who wanted to receive a retroactive payment of his pension. The Tucumán Appeals Court said that it was not competent and so did the Social Security Appeals Court, which is why the case reached the Supreme Court.
Months ago, the Social Security Appeals Court issued an administrative resolution informing that it cannot supply the demand for justice of a social sector labelled by the highest tribunal as “vulnerable.”
According to the Supreme Court, Article 18 of the law 24,463 which ordered the creation of the Social Security court ended up being ruled unconstitutional, having the opposite effect of what lawmakers intended when the social security reform was passed.
One of the drawbacks of the concentration of cases in the Social Security Appeals Court located in Buenos Aires City is that all the lawsuits take place there, negatively affecting old people who live in other parts of the metropolis.
“This makes it difficult to have access to justice,” a court source explained to the Herald.
While the Supreme Court, justices said that this decision was only “palliative,” the transfer of cases set aside by the Social Security Appeals Court to other jurisdictions will probably require a large effort.
The ruling issued yesterday by the court was signed by Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti, Deputy Chief Justice Elena Highton de Nolasco, Carlos Fayt, Juan Carlos Maqueda, Eugenio Zaffaroni and Enrique Petracchi, who issued a concurrent vote with the majority of his colleagues. The only justice who did not sign the ruling was Carmen Argibay, who took part in the discussion but has been hospitalized since Tuesday at the Argentine Institute for Diagnosis and Treatment, a private hospital located in the Barrio Norte neighbourhood.
The Court urged the Kirchnerite administration to order ANSeS to pay arrears to pensioners and the Congress to create new courts to end the backlog. But justices also demanded that prosecutors and the Defence unit take part in these proceedings.
As part of long-term controversy with the Magistrates Council, the Court urged the body in charge of the selection of the judges to provide human and material resources to the Social Security Appeals Court to overcome the ongoing crisis.@lucianabertoia