Objections proceedings and judicial review of pension insurance decisions
“Objection proceedings” were introduced with effect from 1.1.2010 as a standard recourse to contest decisions in matters of pension insurance. After a low number of objections delivered during the first quarter, from April onwards their number rose sharply; the total number far exceeded the expected quantity. Dealing with the new agenda was made more difficult by the need to adjust procedures to make allowance for the findings stemming from the judicature and the courts’ greater demands placed on the quality and completeness of the substantiations of decisions on objections; that was also reflected in the need to improve the quality of health assessments.
After the work capacity had been substantially increased by involving the staff of CSSA offices and regional departments of the MAS, 10,195 of the total of 14,669 objections delivered by the end of 2010 had been successfully dealt with as of 31.12.2010, i.e. 69.5%.
Out of the total of 14,669 objections delivered in 2010, 10,761 (73.4%) concerned the state of health, 2,479 (16.9%) concerned assessments of the insurance period and the assessment base, and 1,429 (1%) concerned other matters. The largest quantity of the objections processed in 2010 comprised cases where the original decision was upheld, i.e. 6,977 cases (68.4%). In 2,460 cases (24.1%) the contested decision was annulled or amended; 544 objections (5.3%) were rejected on the grounds of late submission or inadmissibility; and in 214 cases (2.1%) the proceedings were stopped, mainly after objections were retracted.
During 2010 the average duration of objections proceedings in all the processed cases was 105 days; 59 days in cases not involving an assessment of state of health (the legally defined time limit is 60 in particularly complicated cases); and 131 days in cases where decisions are dependent on medical assessment (the legally defined time limit is 120 days in particularly complicated cases). The average duration of objections proceedings in all the processed cases was therefore 101 days shorter than the average duration of first-instance judicial proceedings in pension insurance cases in 2009, i.e. before objections proceedings were introduced.
In 2010 a total of 1,567 new legal actions were delivered to the CSSA, either via the regional courts or directly; that is a roughly 50% incidence compared to 2009. In 2010, therefore, the introduction of objections proceedings resulted in there being roughly half as many actions filed. 2,658 court disputes were brought to an end in 2010; 2,206 ended successfully for the CSSA (83%), 452 cases unsuccessfully (17%). This ratio has stabilised between 80% and 90% for several years now. The total duration of proceedings in the courts of first instance, i.e. regional courts, (the length of time between the delivery of the action to the CSSA and the delivery of the verdict to the CSSA) was 239 days in 2010; that represented an increase of 50 days.
The total number of disputes based on complaints filed by plaintiffs that were completed by the Supreme Administrative Court in 2010 comprised 119 cases; in 95% of these cases the plaintiffs were unsuccessful. Here, too, the ratio is similar as in previous years. The number of these complaints filed by the CSSA in Prague and completed in 2010 was 17; the CSSA was successful in 12 of these disputes and unsuccessful in 5.
As in the past, the most common category of dispute was disputes concerning benefits conditional on a long-term adverse state of health (86%); the remaining 14% concerned the CSSA’s decisions on specific details, most notably the duration of the insurance period, the assessment base, “miners’” pensions, entitlement to widow’s/widower’s pension, and excess amounts paid out in pension insurance benefits.