Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1459)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

1459. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of pensioners who had their pensions assessed under the homecaring periods scheme; the number who received a back payment; the number still to have their pension assessed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19620/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands.  These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

Wherever possible, reviews are processed based on information already held by the Department, including information about homecaring periods.  Where additional information is required about gap periods in a person's social insurance record, a written request is issued.  Almost 43,000 requests for further information have issued.  

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary Regulations which, together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made. 

As at the 2 May 2019, 34,248 reviews have been completed.  Just over 19,000 claimants received an increase in their rate of payment.  Of these, 12,500 benefitted from homecaring periods, with the remainder benefitting from the new calculation method alone.  Over 15, 000 pensioners continue to receive their existing rate of payment following review, of which 3,000 had homecaring periods for inclusion in their calculation.  

The remaining review outcomes will issue as individual reviews are completed.  Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the person's 66th birthday if later.  Where a person's rate does not increase following review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment. 

It will take a number of months to complete the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records.  This work will continue until all identified pensioners receive their review outcome. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.