Thursday, 30 May 2019
Ceisteanna - Questions - Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
State Pensions Reform
I thank the Deputy. Since September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners who were born on or after 1 September 1946 and have an entitlement to receive a reduced rate contributory State pension, based on post-budget 2012 rate band changes. The payments are being reviewed under the new model, the total contributions approach, TCA, to pension calculation, which includes provision for home caring periods. Wherever possible, the reviews are processed based on information we already have in the Department. Where there are unexplained gaps in an individual's social insurance record, a written request for further information is issued.
Over 45,000 of these requests for information have been issued to date. The reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, which was the day after I signed the necessary regulations. Those regulations, with the provisions of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allow the increased payments to be made. Regardless of when a review is conducted, if an increased payment is due, the person's rate of payment is adjusted without delay and arrears are paid, backdated to 30 March 2018 or the person's 66th birthday if it was after that date. If a person's rate does not increase following the review, he or she will continue to receive the rate of payment he or she was receiving before the review. Some 47,753 reviews, involving more than half of all pensioners identified for review, had been completed by 23 May last. On foot of those reviews, some 23,521 pensioners have received an increase in their rate of weekly pension and 24,232 have remained on their existing rate of payment. Notifications of outcomes will continue to be issued to individuals as soon as their reviews are completed. It may take a number of months to complete the reviews because of the numbers involved and the individual nature of the social insurance records. The work will continue until all identified pensioners have received the results of their reviews.