Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.

Pat Gallagher

Question:

109 Mr. Gallagher (Laoighis-Offaly) asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will allow a person (details supplied) in County Offaly to pay additional contributions to the self-employed PRSI scheme in order to qualify for full benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3888/97]

I assume that the Deputy's question relates to the person concerned qualifying for an old age contributory pension. To qualify for this pension at age 66, a person is required to have been in insurable employment or insurable self-employment before reaching age 56 and satisfy the PRSI contribution conditions.

Under existing provisions, the individual is required to have, inter alia, a yearly average of at least 48 contributions paid or credited to the end of the last tax year before reaching pension age to qualify for the maximum rate of pension or a yearly average of 20 contributions to qualify for a minimum rate of pension.

The individual to whom the Deputy refers has a yearly average of 11 contributions and accordingly does not qualify for an old age contributory pension under the current provisions. There is no provision for the payment of additional contributions to gain entitlement.

However, as the Deputy will be aware from the recent budget debate I announced my intention of extending entitlement to old age contributory pension to individuals who have a yearly average number of contributions from ten to 19. I will be providing that a yearly average from 15 to 19 will give a pension entitlement of 75 per cent of the maximum rate, while an average from ten to 14 will give a pension entitlement of 50 per cent, as long as the individual has at least 260 paid contributions. I intend to introduce these measures in November 1997.

As the individual concerned has over 260 paid contributions and a yearly average of 11 contributions, he would appear to be eligible for an old age contributory pension, at a rate of 50 per cent of the maximum rate, when the proposed provisions are implemented in November 1997.