In February 2016, the Government of Ukraine suspended social payments and pensions to some 500,000 - 600,000 IDPs in eastern Ukraine, pending verification of their continued presence in the place of IDP registration. The suspended benefits included benefits paid to displaced persons under Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 505 as well as pensions and other types of social payments.
Given that social benefits are received mostly by IDPs with specific needs, the most severely affected are the most vulnerable, including older persons, persons with large families, disabled persons and single mothers.
In 2016 the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a number of Resolutions (365, 167, 964) laying out the framework for access to social payments and pensions for IDPs and outlining the procedure for suspension, verification and reinstatement. On 14 December, amendments were approved to Resolutions No. 365, 505, 509 and 167 aimed at simplifying procedures for IDP registration, allocation of social payments and the delivery of pensions to persons with disabilities.
While these resolutions set out the criteria for suspension of payments and provided guidelines to the Departments of Social Protection (DoSP) on the procedure for residence verification, this has created a regime under which IDPs receiving social benefits or pensions– are being subject to scrutiny and intrusion not applied to other Ukrainian citizens who receive the same benefits.
These changes are contrary to Ukrainian legal procedure, since payments of social benefits and pensions can only be regulated by Acts of Parliament and not by Cabinet of Ministers Resolutions.
Administrative law, such as that governing social payments, is based on the principle that government action must be legal so that citizens are duly protected.
The residence verification requirement introduced by these regulations places an extra burden on the local DoSP tasked with verifying the residence of IDPs every six months. DoSP staffing has not increased since the introduction of residence verification, leading to significant delays in verifying the IDP place of residence.
Organizations providing legal assistance to IDPs highlight that access to social payments and pensions remains the most frequent concern raised by IDPs. That IDPs need legal assistance to access these payments shows that the established procedures are not clear.