Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (260)

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

401 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if persons in receipt of social welfare and who hold SSIA accounts will have their payments affected once their accounts mature; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25349/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

In assessing means for social assistance purposes account is taken of any cash income the person may have, together with the value of capital and property. Capital may include the following: stocks and shares of every description, which are assessed according to their current market value, and savings certificates, bonds or national instalment savings, which are assessed according to their current market value. Money invested in a bank, building society etc. and any monetary amounts held in SSIA accounts are treated in the same manner as all other capital outlined above.

New arrangements for the assessment of capital were introduced in October 2000. Under these arrangements, the first €12,697.38 of capital is disregarded and the assessment is on a sliding scale for amounts above this. In the case of old age pension, for example, a single pensioner with capital of up to €21,585.53 qualifies for a full pension while a single pensioner with capital of up to €68,565.84 qualifies for a minimum pension.

The new system continued and enhanced the policy of ensuring that those with modest amounts of capital receive the greater share of available support, whereas the small proportion of people with large amounts of capital are in a position to avail of it to contribute towards meeting their needs.