Written answers

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Code

9:00 pm

Photo of Brendan GriffinBrendan Griffin (Kerry South, Fine Gael)
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Question 335: To ask the Minister for Social Protection her views on a matter (details supplied) regarding long-term carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7967/12]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The home-maker’s scheme which is in place in my Department since 1994 is designed to accommodate people who take time out of the workforce for caring duties and to ensure that they do not lose their entitlement to a State pension (contributory). The scheme allows up to 20 years spent caring for an incapacitated person to be disregarded when the carer’s social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes.

The scheme will not, of itself, qualify a person for a pension. The standard qualifying conditions, which require a person to enter insurance ten years before pension age, pay a minimum of 260 contributions at the correct rate and achieve a yearly average of at least 10 contributions on their record from the time they enter insurance until they reach pension age, must also be satisfied. From April 2012, 520 contributions (10 years) will be required.

I am currently considering the introduction of a system of home-maker’s credits to replace the current disregard from 2012 and allow backdating to 1994 for the purpose of the averaging system that will continue until the total contributions system is introduced in 2020. This would represent a significant improvement whereby people reaching pension age could have credits rather than disregards applied to their records to cover periods of care since 1994 (up to a maximum of 20 years).

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