Thursday, 22 November 2018

Questions (207)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

207. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48691/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

On 23 January last, the Government agreed to allow pensioners, born on or after the 1st September 1946, affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands, to have their state pension (contributory) entitlement calculated under an interim “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA).  The changes also provide for up to 20 years of home caring periods in the calculation of that entitlement, for those who took time out of the workplace for parenting children under age 12, or individuals who needed increased levels of care.

The changes apply to those who reached pension age on or after 1st September 2012  who were awarded less than maximum rate, on post Budget 2012 rate bands.  The changes do not apply to anyone already entitled to maximum rate state pension (contributory).

Currently there are approximately 79,000 pensioners in this category.  My Department has already issued Information Letters to over 70,000 of these pensioners who are resident in Ireland.  Over 8,000 pensioners residing outside of Ireland are expected to receive their letters in December. 

The Information Letter informs pensioners that my Department will contact them directly with the outcome of their individual pension review, or a request for further information regarding gaps in their social insurance record, if this information is required in order to complete their review.  It is not necessary for anyone to contact the Department on this matter.  

Work on examination of the social insurance records of the pensioners concerned commenced in September.  As social insurance records are unique to individual pensioners, this is a manual examination phase and it is expected to continue until the end of the year.  To date, over seventy temporary staff members have been recruited to work on this phase. 

Further recruitment will take place in January 2019, when the first pension reviews are expected to get under way, following enactment of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2018.  In line with this timeframe, it is anticipated that the first review outcomes will be notified to these pensioners during Quarter 1 2019.  

Payment of increases, where awarded, will be made immediately after an individual's review is completed.  Given the numbers involved, it will take my Departments a number of months to work through all the reviews.  In all cases,  where the outcome of the review results in an increase in state pension (contributory) entitlement, the increase will be backdated to 30 March 2018 or the date of a person's 66th birthday if later, and arrears will be paid.   

If a pensioner does not qualify for an increased rate under the new arrangements, they will continue to receive their existing rate of entitlement.  No personal pension entitlement rate will be reduced as a result of this review.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.