Insurance Officer v McCaffrey

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtHouse of Lords
JudgeLord Scarman,Lord Elwyn-Jones,Lord Diplock,Lord Roskill,Lord Brightman
Judgment Date22 November 1984
Judgment citation (vLex)[1984] UKHL J1122-5
Date22 November 1984

[1984] UKHL J1122-5

House of Lords

Lord Scarman

Lord Elwyn-Jones

Lord Diplock

Lord Roskill

Lord Brightman

Insurance Officer
McCaffrey (A.P.)
(Northern Ireland)
Lord Scarman

My Lords,


On 10 February 1981 the respondent, Margaret McCaffrey, made a claim for a non-contributory invalidity pension ("the pension"). She was then in her 61st year, having attained pensionable age on her 60th birthday, which fell on 15 April 1980. The insurance officer, who is the appellant, decided against her claim. He did so because in his view she had failed to show that she was entitled to the pension immediately, or indeed at any time, before she attained pensionable age. He accepted that she had shown that she had met the statutory condition of entitlement in that she had been incapable of work for the required minimum period before 15 April 1980. But she had made no claim before that date: and in his view the making of a claim before reaching pensionable age was a condition precedent to her entitlement.


The respondent's claim falls to be considered under the Northern Ireland legislation, which is, however, in substantially the same terms as the legislation which governs social security elsewhere in the United Kingdom. She appealed to her local tribunal against the insurance officer's decision, and was successful. Since then, the insurance officer has taken the case without success to the Social Services Commissioner and to the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland. Undaunted he now appeals to your Lordships' House.


Section 36 of the Social Security (Northern Ireland) Act 1975 makes provision for the non-contributory invalidity pension. The section contains no hint of the point taken by the appellant: nowhere does it suggest that the making of a claim is necessary to the establishment of entitlement. Subsection (1) sets out what has to be shown in order that a person shall be entitled to the pension. It makes no reference to the need for a claim. The subsection is in these terms:

"(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall be entitled to a non-contributory invalidity pension for any day on which he is incapable of work, if he has been so incapable for a period of not less than 196 consecutive days ending immediately before that day."


It will be observed that the entitlement is "subject to the provisions of this section." A number of conditions are imposed by the succeeding subsections upon entitlement; they do not include the making of a claim. Only one of them is relevant to this appeal. It is contained in subsection (4), the terms of which are as follows:

"(4) Subject to subsection (5) below, a person who has attained pensionable age shall not be entitled to a pension under this section unless he was so entitled (or is treated by regulations as having been so entitled) immediately before attaining that age."


Subsection (5) is not relevant and may be disregarded for the purposes of this appeal.


There can be no doubt that the respondent has satisfied the conditions set out in subsections (1) and (4). The evidence is that by 1 January 1980 she had been incapable of work for a period of not less than 196 consecutive days immediately before that date and that she continued to be incapable of work up to the date on which she attained pensionable age, and indeed thereafter up to the date of her claim. If there be no guide to entitlement other than section 36, the respondent succeeds: she has met the conditions set by the section.


The appellant recognises that unless he can find elsewhere in the statute a condition not mentioned in section 36 restricting entitlement to the pension he fails. He finds such a condition in section 79(1) of the Act.


Section 79 is the first section in Chapter VI of Part II of the Act. Chapter VI deals with the administration of social security benefit. Section 36 does not: it deals with entitlement, and is in Chapter II, which makes provision for non-contributory benefits....

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24 cases
  • TA CI 402 2012
    • United Kingdom
    • Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber)
    • 20 Marzo 2014 section 165A of the 1975 Act in 1985 (to reverse the effect of the House of Lords decision in Insurance Officer v. McCaffrey [1984] 1 WLR 1353). By virtue of that provision, no person shall be entitled to any benefit unless in addition to any other conditions relating to that benefit bei......
  • GDC v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (UC)
    • United Kingdom
    • Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber)
    • 26 Marzo 2020
    ...6 In Insurance Officer v McCaffrey [1984] 1 WLR 1353 the House of Lords had held that a claim was not a condition precedent to entitlement to benefit. This ruling was reversed by section 17 of the Social Security Act 1985, the predecessor to section 1 of the Administration Act. As the Court......
  • Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CDLA 1340 2009
    • United Kingdom
    • Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber)
    • 15 Julio 2011
    ...same distinction between entitlement and payability lay at the heart of the House of Lords’ decision in Insurance Officer v McCaffrey [1984] 1 WLR 1353, which led in turn to the enactment of what is now section 1 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. Accordingly, the critical ques......
  • Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Morina. Same v Borrowdale
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 23 Julio 2007
    ...pension by an insurance officer. She appealed to a Commissioner who dismissed her appeal. Some time later, the House of Lords in Insurance Officer v McCaffery [1984] 1 WLR 1353 declared the law to be such as would have supported Mrs White's case. She then applied to the Commissioner for le......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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