German woman claims phobia of official letters

/ Source: The Associated Press

A German court has ruled against a woman who claimed a phobia of official letters in her appeal against authorities' decision to cut off child support benefits.

The finance court in western Rhineland-Palatinate state said Wednesday that the woman was sent a letter in May 2007 asking that she supply evidence to support continued payments for her daughter.

After she failed to respond, she was notified in July 2007 that the money was being cut off and given a month to appeal. Only in September did she reply and supply the requested documents — telling authorities, who threw out her appeal because it was too late, that she had a phobia of official correspondence.

The woman, who was not identified by the court, said that "she had already suffered many financial disadvantages" as a result of leaving mail lie around or throwing it out, a court statement said.

It added that she sought to justify her actions by saying that "she was and still is petrified of the contents of official letters." She said she had long considered seeking psychological treatment, but had been too ashamed to go through with it.

The court, which said it delivered its ruling in late April, rejected the woman's case. It said that, since she said she had long suffered the problem, she had had plenty of time to seek help from her daughter or others.