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Central Japan man retroactively awarded $140k in disability pension in high court appeal

The Kanazawa branch of the Nagoya High Court is seen in the city of Kanazawa. (Mainichi/Shun Iwakabe)

KANAZAWA -- A man in his 70s in the central Japan prefecture of Ishikawa is set to be awarded decades of unpaid Disability Basic Pension refused to him on the grounds that the statute of limitations had passed, following an appeal court decision by the Nagoya High Court's Kanazawa branch on Sept. 15, overturning the first ruling by the Kanazawa District Court.

    The plaintiff had been seeking payment from the national government for 37 years of Disability Basic Pension, coming in to a total of about 17.63 million yen (around $161,000). In its ruling, the high court ordered that some 15.5 million yen (about $141,000) be paid to the man.

    According to the ruling and other sources, the plaintiff sustained burns in a household accident when he was an infant, and lost fingers on his right hand. Around November 1988, he applied for the Disability Basic Pension at the Nanao social insurance office, now the Nanao pension office in Ishikawa Prefecture. He presented his physical disability certificate at the office upon applying, but the employee who responded to his case reportedly told him, "Without documents to specify and prove the first date of medical examination, you cannot make a claim." His application was not accepted.

    Later, after applying numerous times, he was recognized for the payments in 2016. But he was told that his eligibility to claim for money from March 2011 or earlier had elapsed, meaning any sums before that date could not be issued to him.

    The appeal ruling stated, "The physical disability certificate is a document both essential and sufficient to confirm a first date of medical examination." It recognized that the employee's mistaken explanation that the "physical disability certificate is unrelated" obstructed the man's right to demand the payments and that it was illegal. The court therefore ruled that the time limits didn't apply and ordered the man be awarded 27 years' worth of pension payments spanning April 1984 to March 2011.

    In his appeal, the man had sought to receive payments from since he was first legally eligible to receive them in 1974 and after, but the ruling opted only to recognize payments from 1984 and onwards, which would have been available for the plaintiff to claim had he been approved to receive payments from 1989 after his first application.

    (Japanese original by Mai Suganuma, Osaka Regional News Department)

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