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Reducing the pension in the event of early retirement is unconstitutional. Judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal

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Reducing the pension of a person who retired early is unconstitutional, the Constitutional Tribunal has ruled. The result of the judgment is the possibility of resuming proceedings concerning the person who filed a constitutional complaint.

Constitutional Court (The Constitutional Tribunal) ruled on Tuesday that a provision that allows for a reduction in retirement benefits when a given person took advantage of the transition to an earlier retirement age is unconstitutional. retirement. The Constitutional Tribunal assessed that in this case the principle of citizens' trust in the state was violated.

Pension reduction. When it is unconstitutional

The Constitutional Tribunal examined Art. 25 section 1b of the Act on pensions and annuities from the Social Insurance Fund, insofar as it applies to persons who submitted an application for benefits before June 6, 2012. This provision, which has been in force since 2013, assumes that the basis for calculating the pension is reduced by the amount of previously received pensions. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Tuesday that Art. 25 section 1b of the Pension Act is inconsistent with Art. 67 section 1 of the Constitution, which states that a citizen has the right to social security after reaching retirement age.

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The Tribunal found that in the case under consideration – as we read in the Constitutional Tribunal's press release after issuing the judgment – there was a violation of the principle of citizens' trust in the state and the law it enacts.

“The insured persons who decided to take advantage of the early retirement pension were not aware – at the time of making this decision based on the legal status in force at that time – of the legal effects it may have on their future rights under the general pension. In particular, they did not could have predicted that retiring before reaching the standard retirement age would involve reducing the accumulated capital by the benefits received,” the Constitutional Tribunal explained.

“They did not expect that the payment of retirement benefits would affect the method of determining the amount of the benefit under the general pension. People who decided to exercise the right to early retirement after the announcement of the amending act could face such consequences. Only from that moment, insured people could familiarize yourself with the new regulations,” it was emphasized.

The ruling, which was passed by a majority of votes, was issued by five judges of the Constitutional Tribunal: Krystyna Pawłowicz (chairman of the panel), Justyn Piskorski (rapporteur), Wojciech Sych, Michał Warciński and Andrzej Zielonacki.

Constitutional complaint. “He was surprised by the reduction of his pension benefit”

The Constitutional Tribunal, which considered this case on the basis of a constitutional complaint, also noted that the challenged regulation undoubtedly led to a situation in which the complainant was surprised by the reduction of his pension benefit. “And he also had no opportunity – like any person who submitted an application before June 6, 2012 – to predict the consequences that, under the newly introduced regulations, were associated with exercising the right to early benefits,” the tribunal noted.

The Constitutional Tribunal also assessed that this situation may only apply to people who “did not have a full picture of the consequences of their decision at the time of exercising the right to a partial pension or one of the pensions listed in the introduced Article 25(1b) of the Pension Act.”

“For this reason, it was justified to limit the scope of the above inconsistency to persons who exercised the right to the mentioned benefits before June 6, 2012, i.e. before the date of promulgation of the introductory act. At the same time, it was not justified to limit the adjudication to persons born in a specific age group or acquiring benefit based on any of the grounds mentioned in the challenged provision. Such a decision would create a state of secondary unconstitutionality and deepen the situation of inequality,” the Constitutional Tribunal added.

The Tribunal also informed that the judgment resulted in the possibility of resuming proceedings concerning the person who filed a constitutional complaint.

“In order to guarantee uniform rules for the return of benefits due to eligible persons, the legislator should introduce appropriate regulations in this respect. Until uniform regulations are introduced allowing for the enforcement of rights, on a basis analogous to persons covered by the judgment no. P 20/16 (this judgment concerned pensions for women of 1953 – PAP), persons gaining rights as a result of this judgment may, in the opinion of the Tribunal, submit applications for the reopening of the proceedings on general principles,” the Constitutional Tribunal concluded.

Crisis in the Constitutional Tribunal

Parliament on March 6 this year. adopted a resolution on eliminating the effects of the constitutional crisis of 2015-2023. He stated that “taking into account in the activities of a public authority the decisions of the Constitutional Tribunal issued in violation of the law may be considered a violation of the principle of legalism by these bodies.” The principle of legalism results from Art. 7 of the Constitution, according to which public authorities act on the basis and within the limits of the law.

The resolution stated, among other things, that due to the Sejm resolutions regarding the election of Constitutional Tribunal judges, which were adopted in flagrant violation of the law, Mariusz Muszyński, Jarosław Wyrembak and Justyn Piskorski are not judges of the Constitutional Tribunal. As noted, so far – after adopting this resolution – the Constitutional Tribunal's judgments have not been published in the Journal of Laws.

In turn, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled at the end of May that the resolution of the Sejm of March 6 this year. regarding eliminating the effects of the constitutional crisis in the context of the Constitutional Tribunal is unconstitutional.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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