A woman wrote to the Swedish Pensions Agency and asked a question related to housing allowance. Following this, it took nearly five months for the Agency to give a definite answer to the woman’s question. JO finds that the response times have not complied with requirement in section 6 of the Administrative Act (2017:900), stating that help should be given without unnecessary delay. There was also a misunderstanding between the Swedish Pensions Agency and the woman. When this occurs, it is according to JO important that the Agency acts quickly to correct the information it provided earlier.
In addition, the responses given by the Swedish Pensions Agency were inadequately designed, among other things they did not contain information about the name and contact details for the administrative official who had written the letters. JO states that it can in many cases be prudent to provide such details in the response send by letter, since it makes it easier and more convenient for the private citizen to ask follow-up questions. If several letters are sent to the private citizen, this person may also be interested in knowing whether the letters are written by the same administrative official or different administrative officials.
Furthermore, the investigation shows that the woman was instructed to contact the Swedish Pensions Agency by telephone. JO finds that a government agency must be respectful of what method of contact the private citizen prefers and preferably provide a response through the same method of contact that the private citizen used. In the case in question, it is was highly inappropriate to instruct the woman to phone the Swedish Pensions Agency instead of replying to her in writing, in part because it was already known to the Agency that she was hard of hearing, and in part because the Agency most likely had problems being accessible by telephone at the time when the woman contacted them.
JO finds that the way that the Swedish Pensions Agency handled the woman’s case violates its obligation to provide service in several ways, and the Agency deserves to be criticised for this.