Thursday, 4 November 2004

Questions (147)

James Breen

Question:

144 Mr. J. Breen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if payments accruing from the Government’s SSIA scheme will be liable to be means-tested for pensioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27640/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

I have recently asked my Department to carry out a comprehensive examination of the current arrangements for assessment of capital, particularly in so far as they apply to SSIAs, and I will consider what action needs to be taken on foot of it. I expect that this examination will be concluded in the near future.

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; savings certificates — bonds — national instalment savings which are assessed according to their current market value; money invested in a bank, building society, etc. Amounts held in SSIA accounts are treated in the same manner as other capital outlined above.

In assessing the value of capital, significant disregards are applied. 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 €20,315.80 qualifies for a full pension while a single pensioner with capital of up to €68,565.84 qualifies for a minimum pension. These amounts are doubled in the case of married pensioners.