I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 42 together.
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 gaps in an individual's social insurance record, a written request for further information about time spent outside the workforce for parenting or caring reasons 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 - over half of pensioners identified for review - have been completed. Of these, 23,523 pensioners received an increase in their rate of payment and 24,232 are remaining on 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 have received their review outcome.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.