Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Code
102. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will consider changing the name of the invalidity pension given that many persons with a long-term illness or disability find this name derogatory and inappropriate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [59599/21]
Invalidity Pension is a pension paid to people who are “permanently incapable of work” because of illness or disability. It is based on a claimant's social insurance contributions and medical conditions and is not means tested. Increases are payable for qualified adults and children. People in receipt of invalidity pension transfer to the State Pension Contributory when they reach pensionable age. My Department spent €760 million on Invalidity Pension in 2020. This was part of an overall spend of €4.7 billion on a wide range of illness, disability and caring payments.
Although some may associate the term “pension” with older age, it is commonly associated with long-term payments throughout the European Union for the contingencies of invalidity or old age. The use of the term "Invalidity" reflects the terminology used in the relevant European Directive. The rules for the co-ordination of invalidity benefits in the EU are provided for in EC Regulation No 883/2004, invalidity benefits being a branch of social security co-ordinated under this regulation. As such the term “Invalidity Pension” is an instantly recognisable term in respect of its purpose and the risk it covers in both an EU and domestic context. Invalidity benefits/pension are generally provided where an insured person suffers incapacity for work leading to permanent invalidity.
It is also very difficult to find a term that is acceptable to everyone and that continues to be acceptable over the passage of time. However, the terminology in this case reflects accurately the purpose of the payment and is consistent with the relevant European Directive, thereby avoiding any legal ambiguity around the status of the payment.
My Department gives careful thought to the terminology used in respect of schemes and entitlements and works very closely with stakeholders to ensure that the language used is appropriate. These issues are kept under review; however, for the reasons outlined, I do not propose a change at this time.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.