Thursday, 4 April 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
31. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the review under way of entitlement to an increased rate of contributory pension; the number of cases that remain to be reviewed; when the review will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15530/19]
45. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of progress in completing the reviews for those in receipt of reduced pension amounts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15650/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 45 together.
Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands. These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.
Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary regulations which together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made. The most recently available figures show that as at 2 April 2019, 13,915 reviews have been completed. Of these 75% have resulted in an increase in payment and 25% continue to receive their existing rate.
It will take a number of months to complete all the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records. One hundred and twenty one temporary staff have been recruited to help with this work and at this stage it is anticipated that the reviews will be in the coming months when written outcomes will have issued to all pensioners involved.
Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the pensioner’s 66th birthday if later. Where a person's rate does not increase following a review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.