Written Answers. - Farm Retirement Scheme.

Paul McGrath

Question:

134 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath has had their farm retirement pension discontinued since January 2003; if this pension will be reinstated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10875/03]

The EU regulation governing the early retirement scheme requires that the pension be paid as a supplement to any national retirement pension that the participant, or his or her spouse or partner in a joint management arrangement, receives. The Department has an obligation, therefore, to ensure that a participant does not receive full payment of early retirement pension if he or she is also entitled to a national retirement pension.

On 2 October 2002 my Department informed the person named that he must apply for both the old age contributory and non-contributory pensions and provide documentary evidence of the outcome of his applications. However, he had still not provided this information by the time he reached the age of 66 on 19 January 2003, and my Department was forced to suspend the payment of his early retirement pension. On 28 January 2003, my Department learned from the Department of Social and Family Affairs that the person named was not entitled to the normal old age contributory pension but that his eligibility for an old age non-contributory pension was now being examined. As soon as the Department of Social and Family Affairs confirms the position to my Department in relation to this application, the question of his further entitlement to early retirement pension will be re-examined.