Portugal pays out €648 million in erroneous benefits

And the chances of getting its money back are slim, reports national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

According to the paper, Social Security offices have paid out €648 million over the last few years which they are now trying to get back.

The service “admits that a large portion of the cake, more than €568 million, will be hard to recover”.

The payments were all lapses of a system that simply does not work efficiently, explains the paper.

“They were instalments that the system should not have paid – like when an unemployed person finds a job and still receives benefit for a few months because Social Security hasn’t detected that it should stop paying”, explains economist Eugénio Rosa.

Nonetheless, letters and advice notes are flying out, and last year the service succeeded in clawing back €186 million, including €49.3 million erroneously paid out in ‘social benefits’, €36.3 million in unemployment subsidies and €15.8 million in pensions.

CM does not elaborate on why €568 million will be “hard to recover”, but its story suggests the beneficiaries – although technically undeserving – may simply not be in a financial position to repay.

The news comes as the IEFP reports that October saw more unemployed couples in Portugal than the month before.

As winter approaches, there are now more than 10,000 couples registered as unemployed. The Algarve particularly registered a 50% leap in the number of people signing up for benefit last month, compared to figures for September.

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