How a mistake in the surname of the deceased soldier almost deprived his family of benefits

The relative of the deceased man, former soldier, was denied compensation for burial expenses because of the mistake in his passport. This was the strange situation that Mrs. Olena, the citizen of the City of Rivne, faced.

According to the Ukrainian legislation, the issue of assistance for burial of retired soldiers is regulated by the Law of Ukraine “On pension provision to individual decommissioned from the military service and some other persons”. In particular, under paragraph 4 of article 61 of this Law, “in the event of death of the pensioner, the members of his family or a person who arranged his funeral are payable assistance in the amount of threemonth pensions but not less than five minimum wages”. However, Mrs. Olena (the name was changed) could not get these funds, as the surname indicated in the death certificate of her relative and the surname indicated in the pension file differed. No one noticed this mistake for many years until the case had gone to the Department of the Pension Fund of Ukraine where the inconsistency in surnames was revealed and therefore the woman was denied the compensation.

It quickly became clear where actually the mistake had been made. In the late nineties, Mr. Kotenko (the surname was changed) was issued a Ukrainian passport. When issuing the passport, MIA staff made a mistake in surname spelling – one letter “O”  was erroneously changed for letter “A” . It read “Katenko” instead of the correct “Kotenko”. The mistake was not noticed at once which led to a mistake in surname spelling in the death certificate of Mr. Kotenko. The pension case was filed under the previous passport and, as a result, the correct surname was indicated there. Because of the inconsistency in one letter in the surname of the deceased, the Main Office of the Pension Fund of Ukraine in the City of Rivne refused Mrs. Olena’s request to compensate her factual expenses for funeral and cemetery arrangements for her deceased relative.

To receive the compensation of the burial expenses, Mrs. Olena addressed for consultation to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union public advice centre in the City of Rivne.

The public advice centre lawyers, after analysis of judicial practice and current legislation, drew up a claim to a court about the finding that had a legal effect. It was important to establish that the person the pension case was filed on and the person, who, in his lifetime, possessed the Ukrainian passport issued with the clerical error, was one and the same person. According to the advice centre lawyers, it is possible to identify a person given other documents, issued prior to the Ukrainian passport with the slip. In this case, such documents were Mr. Kotenko’s school leaving certificate, his daughter’s birth certificate, employment history books issued at different work places. It was a pleasure that Mrs. Olena was self-represented in the court and managed to complete the case.

Thanks to her perseverance, determination, and professional assistance provided by the lawyers of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union public advice centre in the City of Rivne, Mrs. Olena managed to achieve a favourable decision in the court and the compensation of expenses for funeral of her close relative accordingly.

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