Thursday, 30 May 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
State Pension (Contributory)
27. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of her plans to re-examine the situation for women who lost out on a full State pension (contributory) due to leaving the workforce to raise children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22821/19]
As announced in January 2018 pensioners born on or after the 1st September 1946, affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands, will have their state pension (contributory) entitlement calculated under an interim 'Total Contributions Approach' (TCA). These changes also provide for up to 20 years of home caring periods in the pension entitlement calculation, for those who took time out of the workplace for parenting or caring duties.
The reviews relates to the pension payments of some 90,000 pensioners who reached pension age on or after 1 September 2012. To date we have completed over 47,000 reviews with nearly half of those reviewed receiving an increase in their pension payment. It is important to note that nobody is worse off as a result of these reviews, with pensioners receiving the same amount as they previously did if the reviews do not warrant an increase.
The Government intends to introduce a Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to establishing the level of entitlement for all new state pension contributory claims from 2020 onwards.
I launched a public consultation on the design of the full TCA on the 28th of May 2018 to which a wide variety of stakeholder groups were invited. A number of workshops were also held on the day to elicit views and feedback. All Oireachtas members were invited to a detailed briefing in Leinster House by my officials shortly afterwards. The consultation was open for over 3 months and the Department received almost 300 responses from individuals and organisations. Those submissions outlined the views of respondents on a number of issues, including the number of years required for a full pension, as intended as part of the consultation process.
Having carefully examined the outputs of the consultation process, my Department is now designing the scheme and I intend to shortly bring a proposal to Government setting out that design. When the Government has agreed the approach to be taken, I will initiate the work required to introduce this reform.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
28. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the review process into those persons affected by the 2012 changes to the State pension (contributory) will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23040/19]
42. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of reviews which have been completed into those persons affected by the 2012 changes to the State pension (contributory); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23041/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 42 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.
Wherever possible, reviews are processed based on information already held by my Department. Where there are unexplained gaps in an individual's social insurance record, a written request for further information about time spent outside the workforce for parenting or caring reasons is issued. Over 45,000 requests for information have been issued to date.
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. 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 person's 66th birthday if later. Where a person's rate does not increase following review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment. Outcomes will continue to issue to individuals as soon as their reviews are completed.
As at 23 May 2019, 47,755 reviews - over half of pensioners identified for review - have been completed. Of these, 23,523 pensioners received an increase in their rate of payment and 24,232 are remaining on their existing rate of payment.
It will take a number of months to complete the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records. This work will continue until all identified pensioners have received their review outcome.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.