There are a great number of social benefits available to assist people living in Malta. These include children’s allowance, maternity leave and benefits, foster care allowances, sickness benefits and medical assistance, injury benefits and pensions. Information on the benefits and their respective details can be found in the Benefits Information menu in the Social Security website.
An applicant or beneficiary will receive a letter of explanation whenever the Department of Social Security makes a decision regarding his/her eligibility for social security benefits. If in disagreement with the decision, the person has the right to appeal against that decision.
What to do if you feel you’ve been unjustly refused a benefit?
An appeal may be lodged by a Maltese or non-Maltese national against a decision by the Department of Social Security before the Umpire. One may lodge an appeal on a question of law or a principle of importance emerging from a decision by the Department of Social Security according to the Social Security Act (Cap. 318.). An Appeal may be lodged against any decision with the exception of decisions taken by a board of medical doctors. However, an application for Invalidity Pension that is rejected on medical grounds may be appealed.
An appeal must be lodged within 30 days from when one is informed of the decision.
The Social Security Umpire can change a decision if it is wrong. He cannot however change the Law on which the decision has been based or pay more money than the Law allows. Although the Act vests its execution in the Director General and gives him certain discretionary powers, it has an in-built mechanism that ensures redress when a claimant feels aggrieved by a decision of the Director. In fact, one section provides for an appeal to be lodged in front of the Umpire who is empowered to decide even against the Director General. The Director General is also liable to be challenged in the Civil Courts, including the Court of Appeal as well as the Constitutional Court.
Digitalisation of the Office of the Umpire
The digital public service user experience has improved through various new and enhanced services available anytime and anywhere via mobile devices. Online public services are no longer the exception, but the rule, and will become more prevalent with the adoption of innovative technologies. Where necessary, the simplification and re-engineering of business processes is applied and where appropriate remove the unnecessary burden on clients and improve internal efficiency.
During the past years, the Department of Social Security has introduced many 24×7 accessible online services which are easy to use. Digitalisation is now considered as the default choice for delivering services, whilst building faith towards such services has improved through further take-up. The department is committed towards excellence in service delivery and will continue to make use of technologies to enhance user-friendly and deliver quality service through timely services. Users of these secure services benefit from self-service.
Prior to the digitalisation project of the Office of the Umpire, it resulted that the stakeholders involved with the Office of the Umpire shared the frustration of difficult and lengthy processes and procedures that were in place. Means of communications with stakeholders and applicants revolved primarily around paper-based methods. Physical paperwork, filing, statistics reporting and other manual systems provided laborious tasks which could be easily rectified by digitalising the procedures in place.
Through the use of the Government’s Workflow Automation System (WAS), the Office of the Umpire has implemented a digitalised process. An online appeal may be lodged by a Maltese or non-Maltese national against a decision by the Department of Social Security before the Social Security Umpire. Also, the citizen can monitor the progress of an appeal lodged with the Office of the Umpire.
Citizen Appeal Portal
- Citizens can either lodge an appeal on their own behalf or on behalf of another citizen (such as appellant’s legal advisor or relative).
- An appellant submitting an appeal on his own behalf using e-ID authentication will have the personal details made available through Identity Malta.
- The eForm will allow the citizen to attach the respective documentation together with the justification for appeal.
- The eForm is designed to guide the citizen in compiling the appeal through a user-friendly interface which includes validations throughout.
- Progress of the submission of appeal can be monitored by the citizen through the Citizen Portal as well as email notifications with guided information to the appellant, such as submission acknowledgements, sitting hearing date and appeal decision.
- The lodged appeal by the citizen is received automatically at the back-end Office of the Umpire for processing.
- The back-office business process includes different flows/interactions with the DSS Sickness Benefits Office, Arbiters and DSS Legal Office.
- In addition, the back-office can schedule/re-schedule hearings for both the appellant and the Arbiters.
- The WAS eForm will serve the purpose of a digital archive whereby details/information on appeals can be referenced at any stage.
This newly designed WAS eForm environment, will eliminate all the paper-based processes which were related to this business operation, with the only exception for the final appeal decision, which is required by law, to be sent to the appellant by registered post.
IN exercise of the powers conferred by section 107 of the Social Security Act (Cap. 318.), the Ministry for Social Policy and Children’s Rights approves the appointment of Umpires for the purposes of the said Act.