Thursday, 30 May 2019

Questions (30)

Peter Burke


30. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of pensioners in counties Longford and Westmeath that will be positively affected by the change in pension rules for persons who took time out of the workforce to care for dependants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22784/19]

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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 45,000 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.  

As at 23 May 2019, 47,755 reviews, representing over half of all identified for review, have been completed.  Of these, 23,523 pensioners received an increase in their rate of pension and 24,232 are remaining on their existing rate of payment.  

The detailed geographical statistics the Deputy requests are not readily available at this time.  

Increases, where awarded, vary  depending on the nature and extent of a person's social insurance record.  The rate of increase awarded under this review is influenced by the extent to which a person benefits from the new calculation method, or the inclusion of new HomeCaring Periods, or both.    

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.