Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Questions (296)

Willie Penrose


296. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to outline the reason a person (details supplied) has only received €214 in State contributory pension from 17 May 2017; if this can be reviewed in the context of the person's contribution record and in particular in the context of the proposals to deal with the pension anomalies which have arisen particularly for persons that had a break in contributions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4946/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is in receipt of a reduced rate state pension (contributory) at 90% of the maximum rate with effect from their 66th birthday, based on an assessed yearly average of 39 contributions, covering their working life from 1974 to 2016 inclusive. According to the records of my Department, the person has a social insurance record of 1,688 reckonable contributions and credits during that period. The person concerned is in receipt of the correct rate of contributory pension based on this social insurance record. The person was notified in writing of their pension award on 31 January 2017. Attached to that letter was a copy of their contribution record, as held by my Department and upon which their entitlement was calculated. If the person concerned considers they have additional unrecorded contributions or credits, it is open to them to forward relevant documentary evidence and my Department will review their entitlement.

In addition to the person’s Irish record, they have 522 recorded UK contributions for the tax years 1971/72 to 1972/73 and 1975/76 to 1983/84 inclusive. The person’s entitlement to a state pension (contributory) EU pro rata has also been examined. As the person’s entitlement to this pension is at a lower rate, the person concerned is financially better off on their existing (standard) state pension (contributory) and has been notified of this decision in writing on 21 August 2017.

The person concerned appealed the decision and a letter of clarification about the decision was issued to them on 26 September 2017. If the person is not satisfied with the clarification they have received, they should contact the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Last week the Government announced proposals that pensioners who qualified for state pension (contributory) since September 2012, and whose rate of entitlement was impacted by the 2012 rate band changes, may apply for a review to have their entitlement considered under a new Total Contribution Approach (TCA). It will take some time to draft and pass the necessary legislation, and then develop the systems and procedures necessary to administer the new pension entitlement option. It is not necessary for any individuals to contact the Department at this juncture as the Department will contact them once the legislation, processes and systems have been developed. Therefore, it is expected that these pensioners will start receiving invitations from my Department in Q4 2018 to apply for a review under the new pension eligibility arrangements and to notify any periods spent caring for which HomeCaring credits may be due. Review applicants will be notified of the outcome of their review and the higher rate of entitlement, where applicable, will be paid to them. Where an increase is awarded, it will be backdated to 30 March 2018.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.