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Irish $16M lottery winner still claiming over $6,000 a year in benefits

Feb 8, 2012, 10:15 am

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After the Big Win

An Irishman is still claiming disability benefits in the UK after winning over $16 million in the lottery.

Michael O'Shea, who grew up in Co. Kerry and resides in Nottingham, made headlines in October 2005 when he and his wife Jean won £10.2 million on the Euro Millions lotto jackpot.

Since becoming a millionaire overnight, the father of three has been paid almost $50,000 (£31,500) in disability benefits, the Daily Mail reports.

However the 72-year-old retired builder is doing nothing illegal, as the allowance is not means-tested.

"We've nothing to hide. I worked for 40 years and I'm entitled to it," O'Shea told The Sun newspaper.

When the lucky couple scooped the jackpot over six years ago, they told the media, "we'll never be any different, no matter how much money we have."

They remained true to their word and still occupy the three-bedroom ex-council house they were living in prior to their win. However, they did splash their cash in Ireland, where they built a 5-bedroom mansion in Co. Kerry. They allegedly opted not to reside there as disabilities allowances are means tested in Ireland.

As well as the generous £500-a-month ($794) disability living allowance, the wealthy couple are given a new car every three years under a mobility scheme for the disabled.

Now campaigners, MPs, and neighbors are criticizing O'Shea for continuing to take the cash.

One neighbor said: "I'm not the only person around here who thinks that multi-millionaires still claiming benefits is wrong. It may not be illegal, but is it morally right that they get benefits when they don't need them? They can afford a life of luxury and a fleet of cars — yet they are pinching every penny they can get from the taxpayer."

In response, the retired builder defended his acceptance of the state benefits.

"I worked for 40 years and I'm entitled to it. I've got osteoarthritis in my legs, and rheumatoid arthritis in my hands. We only really use the car to go to the shops."

Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers' Alliance told the Daily Mail, "It's barmy that taxpayers are funding benefits and motors for a multi-millionaire".

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