Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.

Michael Bell

Question:

795 Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the plans he has to reduce the old age pension age from 66 to 65, in order that retired workers can enjoy the same benefits as old age pensioners. [20521/00]

While the position will be kept under review, I have no plans to lower the qualifying age for receipt of Old Age (Contributory) and (Non-Contributory) Pensions, which currently stands at 66 years.

Any reduction in this qualifying age would have major financial implications, and would not be desirable from a policy perspective in the light of demographic projections.

Questions Nos. 796, 797 and 798 taken with Question No. 119.

Richard Bruton

Question:

799 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the plans he has to grant credited insurance contributions in respect of years working in the public service to women who were forced under the marriage bar to give up their employment in the public ser vice and to have since paid full class A stamps; the plans he has to introduce a system whereby their years working in the public service would be disregarded in calculating eligibility for pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20542/00]

Special arrangements were introduced for old age contributory and retirement pension purposes in 1991 to cater for people with a mixture of full-rate and modified rate PRSI. The revised arrangements provided for the payment of pro-rata pensions in proportion to the periods of insurance completed at the class A rate. These arrangements are similar to those which apply under the EU regulations to people with a mixture of insurance in a number of different EU member states.

In addition, the qualifying conditions for entitlement to the old age contributory pension were significantly eased in 1997, when entitlement to reduced rate pensions was extended to those with yearly averages of between ten and 19 contributions. Under this measure many former public servants who had already qualified for pro-rata pensions became entitled to enhanced pensions. The new arrangements to take account of pre-1953 contributions, which came into effect from 5 May this year, will also benefit people with mixed insurance records.

My Department is currently reviewing the qualifying conditions for old age contributory, OACP, and retirement pensions, RP. The report on the first phase of this review was published recently and recommended, amongst other things, that the average contribution test, on which entitlement is currently based, be replaced by a system based on the actual number of contributions paid. The implementation of this system will be considered in the second phase of the review, which will also include an examination of the homemaker's scheme.

Question No. 800 taken with Question No. 109.

Question No. 801 taken with Question No. 108.