Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
State Pension (Non-Contributory)
1127. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person in receipt of the disability allowance and who due to their age is transferred to the State pension (non-contributory), can have their weekly payment reduced (details supplied); the further reason persons with disabilities are financially disadvantaged on age grounds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2683/20]
Social welfare legislation provides that in determining the eligibility of an applicant for a social assistance scheme, all income, assets and property (apart from their main residence) that the applicant (and his or her spouse/civil-partner/cohabitant) holds, is assessable for the purposes of the applicable means test. While some elements of the means testing arrangements are common to all schemes, there are other elements which vary from scheme to scheme.
The means tests for certain social assistance schemes, such as disability allowance and state pension non-contributory, allow for a certain amount of income and savings to be disregarded in the calculation of a person’s weekly means. How means are assessed depends on the specific scheme conditions and applicable social welfare legislation.
Disability allowance is a scheme for people who are of working age (16 and upwards), who have a legal right to reside and are habitually residing in the State, and who have a disability that prevents them from taking up full-time employment. The capital and income disregards in place for disability allowance are intended to encourage and incentivise those recipients who can and want to take up employment. The income disregard aims to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in work while retaining a proportion of their social welfare payment, while the capital disregard ensures that they are not penalised for building up a reasonable amount of savings with the additional income gained from employment.
State pension non-contributory is a means-tested payment for people aged 66 and over, who have a legal right to reside and are habitually residing in the State, and who do not qualify for a state pension contributory, or only qualify for a reduced rate contributory pension, based on their social insurance record.
No disability criteria applies in the case of state pension non-contributory. However, where a person in receipt of disability allowance immediately before their 66th birthday qualifies for state pension non-contributory, social welfare legislation provisions protect against any negative financial impact due to the differing means tests for the respective schemes. In this way, a state pension non-contributory claimant can be paid at the same rate as their disability allowance payment entitlement applicable immediately before turning age 66.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.