Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (626)

Willie O'Dea


626. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the 2012 pension review; the number of persons who had their pension entitlement reviewed; the numbers awaiting a review; the number of persons issued with a high rate of pension; the number of persons whose pension has remained unchanged in tabular form; if concerns have been raised regarding persons being excluded from the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21520/19]

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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 my Department.  Where there are unexplained gap periods in an individual's social insurance record, a written request for information is issued.  Over 44,000 requests for information have been issued to date.  

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.  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. 

Outcomes will continue to issue to individuals as soon as their reviews are completed.  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 have received their review outcome.   

As at 16 May 2019,  42,775 reviews, representing almost half of all identified for review , have been completed.  Of these,  21,481 pensioners received an increase in their rate of pension and 21,294 are remaining on their existing rate of payment.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.