On 23 January last, the Government agreed to my proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands to have their pension entitlement calculated on a Total Contributions basis, including provision for up to 20 years of home caring in the calculation of that entitlement.
A number of elements have to be put in place to facilitate the implementation of the rate band changes 2012. Legislation has to be enacted to enable implementation of these arrangements and an information technology system has to be developed and tested. My Department is currently working on these and both at a very advanced stage. In addition, my Department is currently finalising procedures and recruiting and assigning staff to process reviews of pensions.
It is estimated that 53,000 pensioners are affected by the rate band changes. However, over 76,000 pensioners (including 9,000 pensioners resident outside the State) will have their applications re-assessed under the TCA12, as there are people unaffected by the rate band changes who will be allowed benefit from the new scheme (notably, many with a yearly average of 40-47, who currently qualify for a 98% rate pension, but who may now qualify for a full rate pension).
My Department will be writing to impacted customers over the next two months to explain to them what is happening and how the process of review will work. It is still planned to commence these reviews before the end of this year, with the first payments being made in the first quarter of 2019, backdated, where relevant, to the end of March 2018, or later where a person attained their 66th birthday since that date.
It is not necessary for people to contact the Department on this matter. Once the legislation is enacted and the systems and processes are ready, my Department will then write again to the people impacted and provide them with the opportunity to have their pension calculation reviewed.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.