Written Answers. - Farm Retirement Scheme.

Enda Kenny

Question:

128 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo is in receipt of the proper amount of pension; the position regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10870/03]

It is a condition of the EU regulation governing the scheme that the early retirement pension must be reduced by the amount of any national retirement pension paid to the retiring farmer. In the case of a joint management application, that is where the applicant does not own land or uses another person's land to maximise the pension, the amount of any national retirement pension payable to his or her spouse or partner must also be deducted.

A joint management application is usually made where one spouse or partner is younger than the other. In the case of the person named, the application was made in his wife's name and they benefited very substantially as a result. He reached the age of 70, the maximum age for payment of early retirement pension, on 8 April 1998. Consequently, if a sole application had been made in his name the pension would have terminated on that date whereas because it was a joint management application, the pension could be paid for a considerably longer period and it continues to be paid. However, his wife became entitled to a national old age pension on 13 December 2002 and this had to be deducted from the early retirement pension. It was necessary for my Department to suspend payment of pension in January 2003 until confirmation was received that she had been awarded the old age pension. Confirmation has now been received, and payment is being restored at the reduced rate, including all arrears due, at the end of this month.