Thursday, 30 May 2019

Questions (151)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

151. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the extent to which women or men who are previously deemed to have insufficient contributions to meet requirements for payments of State pension can now be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23124/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

A person is required to have 520 contributions paid to qualify for the State Pension (contributory). It is reasonable to require people who seek a contributory pension to have made at least 10 years paid contributions into the Social Insurance Fund which finances it, over 50 years of working age life.

While it was lower in the past when PRSI coverage was less widespread, legislation was introduced in 1997 to increase this threshold to 520 weeks, or 10 years of contributions. A fifteen year period was allowed pass between that legislation being enacted and the threshold being raised to this level, which would have been sufficient for most people to achieve the required contributions.

For those who do not qualify for the State Pension (contributory) (SPC), there are other state pension payments available. Notably, they may qualify for the State Pension (non-contributory) which is a means-tested payment (based on their share of household means) with a maximum payment of 95% of the SPC. If their spouse has a contributory pension, they may qualify for an increase for a qualified adult (based on their own means), amounting up to 90% of a full rate SPC pension.

Consequently, if a person doesn’t receive a State pension after pension age, they have both significant means and have made little or no contribution to the Social Insurance Fund over their working life. Introducing a new pension entitlement for such people would reduce the resources available for other pensioners, most of whom have less means than they do, and have contributed significantly more to the Social Insurance Fund.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.