Written answers

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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621. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to re-examine the situation for women who lost out on their full State pensions (contributory) due to leaving the workforce to rear their children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52968/18]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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On 23 January last, the Government agreed to allow pensioners, born on or after the 1st September 1946, affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands, to have their state pension (contributory) entitlement calculated under an interim “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA). The changes also provide for up to 20 years of home caring periods in the calculation of that entitlement for those who took time out of the workplace for parenting children under age 12, or individuals who needed increased levels of care.

The changes apply to those who reached pension age on or after 1st September 2012 and were awarded less than maximum rate, on post Budget 2012 rate bands. The changes do not apply to anyone already entitled to maximum rate state pension (contributory).

Approximately 79,000 pensioners (both men and women) have been identified for review. Information Letters have issued to each of these informing them that my Department will contact them directly with the outcome of their individual pension review, or a request for further information regarding gaps in their social insurance record, if required to complete their review. It is not necessary for anyone to contact the Department on this matter.

Work on examination of the social insurance records of the pensioners concerned commenced in September. As social insurance records are unique to individual pensioners, this manual examination phase is expected to continue to the end of the year. To date, over seventy temporary staff members have been recruited to work on this phase. Further recruitment will take place in January 2019 when the first pension reviews are expected to get under way, following enactment of enabling legislation. In line with this, it is anticipated that the first review outcomes will be notified to pensioners during Quarter 1 2019.

Payment of increases, where awarded, will be made immediately after an individual's review is completed. Given the numbers involved, it will take my Departments a number of months to work through all the reviews. In all cases, where the outcome of the review results in an increase in state pension (contributory) entitlement, the increase will be backdated to 30 March 2018 or the date of a person's 66th birthday if later, and arrears will be paid.

Personal pension entitlement rates will not be reduced as a result of this review. If a pensioner does not qualify for an increased rate, they will continue to receive their existing rate of entitlement.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


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