Pensioners from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions seem to be one of those categories most adversely affected by the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. If they want to get their pension payment, earned by the long years of labor, they will have to leave their territories and travel to the territory controlled by Ukraine, that is to cross the front line, waiting in the long queues. Not all of them are able to do it, they die right at the checkpoints, as it happened on January 10 in Horlivka – three men died at once; their health was too poor to stand in the queue.
However, along with these problems, Donbas conflict creates another inconvenience for those who have become pensioners since 2014, and even monthly traveling to the territory controlled by Ukraine does not help them.
For several years now, internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Donbas, who apply to the Pension Fund, face a serious problem, and in the spring of 2018, Ukraine’s Cabinet added a new one.
The first and main reason for the "pension" problems of IDPs is the self-proclaimed status of the "Donetsk People's Republic."
Theoretically, the electronic pension register, which was launched yet in 2004, stores data on the work experience and insurance payments to Ukraine’s Pension Fund of the officially employed workers. However, usually, the work experience was received before the introduction of electronic management, so the pensioners still have to confirm it on paper. Paper confirmation of their work at the enterprise is a document taken from the archives of the latter, but with the beginning of the conflict in 2014, not a single company could export the archives to the territories, controlled by Ukraine.
As a result, even the Donbas residents who went to the territory controlled by Ukraine were obliged to apply to the archives of enterprises and institutions that remained in the “DPR” to confirm their work experience. Of course, Ukraine’s Pension Fund does not recognize such certificates, and if the pensioner cannot obtain the document without a stamp, he cannot confirm his experience in practice.
Another problem of the IDPs, who have become pensioners, is the Resolution of Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers No. 335 of April 25, 2018.
The document amended the existing procedure for making social payments to internally displaced persons, which was established by the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 365 of June 8, 2016.
According to the current mechanism for assigning or resuming the payment of a pension, after applying to the Pension Fund, the latter is obliged to inspect the documents submitted by the future retiree. This procedure is quite lengthy and includes, for example, special inspection of the pensioner's residence place. After this procedure, a list is formed, which is transferred to the Pension Fund, where the final pension is calculated.
If the Pension Fund still has some questions or doubts concerning the documents, the internally displaced person receives up to 3 months to submit the additional documents.
But even if there is no need for such documents and a Donbas IDP gets the right to obtain a pension, it will not be paid immediately.
The Cabinet of Ministers has amended paragraph 15 of the procedure for assigning social benefits to internally displaced persons. As before, the date of assignment of pension and other payments remains the day when the application of the IDPs to the Pension Fund is submitted, however, the fate of the state debt changes.
Taking into account the check and provision of the additional documents, long time passes since the day of filing an application to making a decision on the appointment of a pension (more than one month). According to Resolution No. 365, the social welfare body was obliged to return the funds for the period from the application date to the day of the actual decision on the appointment of a pension. But the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers № 335 instructs that the payment should be made on the terms of a separate order, developed by the Cabinet.
As a result, every Donbas pensioner, who has received a pension since May 2018, has unwillingly become a creditor of the Pension Fund, who owes him some money. Moreover, even if the experience is confirmed, it does not prevent a person from this debt.
"I have received a pension without specific problems; the Fund had no additional questions to the documents I submitted, but all these checks took about four months. As a result, the pension was given to me and the current payments are made, but the Pension Fund owes me pension payments for 4 months,” said Andriy, a Donetsk resident, who now lives in Kyiv.
Actually, every Donbas pensioner from, who received a pension after April 25, 2018, faced the similar conditions, becoming an unwitting creditor to Ukraine’s Pension Fund. This money might be received only after the Cabinet develops a legal procedure for paying back the IDPs’ debts.