Married woman avoids jail for claiming almost €24k in lone parent benefits

Fined: Susan Balmer
Fined: Susan Balmer

A MOTHER-OF-THREE, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully claiming almost €24,000 in lone parent benefits while she was married, has been given a €500 fine.

Susan Balmer of Grange Abbey Grove, Donaghemede, Dublin 13, was prosecuted by the Department of Social Protection after she claimed the one parent family payment in 2003 and 2004 while at the same time she wsa married.

Judge John O'Neill heard at the Dublin District Court that the fraud amounted to €23,707 and she has repaid €8,257.

O'Neill noted that it was an old case and the Department had thought it had ended in 2007 and was now seeking to have the matter finalised.

Judge O'Connor was told the social welfare authorities will deduct money still owed from her family income supplement.

He also noted the woman pleaded guilty, had no prior criminal convictions and he took into account that she has paid back more than €8,000 but he added that she still owed a substantial amount. 

He fined her €500 which must be paid within six months or she could face seven days in jail in default.

The offence can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and or a six-month sentence in addition to being made pay back the amount of benefits wrongfully claimed.

The social welfare authorities have a mechanism to continue to recover money owed to them after court proceedings have concluded.