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State Pensions

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 4 November 2021

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Questions (313)

Réada Cronin


313. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Social Protection if there are plans to make emergency foster carers eligible for the State pension (contributory); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53943/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Subject to the standard qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) also being satisfied, the State pension system already provides significant recognition to those whose work history includes an extended period of time outside the paid workplace, often to raise families or in a full-time caring role.

This is provided through the award of credits and/or the application of the Homemaker’s Scheme (under the Yearly Average method for payment calculation) and/or the application of HomeCaring Periods (under the Aggregated Contribution Method, also known as the interim Total Contributions Approach).

Details of these are –

- Credits – PRSI Credits are awarded to recipients of Carer’s Allowance (and Carer’s Benefit) where they have an underlying entitlement to credits. Credits are also awarded to workers who take unpaid Carer’s Leave from work.

- The Homemaker’s Scheme - The scheme, which was introduced with effect from 1994, is designed to help homemakers and carers qualify for State Pension (Contributory). The Scheme, which allows periods caring for children or people with a caring need to be disregarded (from 1994), can have the effect of increasing a person's Yearly Average.

- HomeCaring Periods – HomeCaring Periods may be awarded for each week not already covered by a paid or credited social insurance contribution (regardless of when they occurred) to a maximum of 20 years. HomeCaring Periods can only be used under the Aggregated Contribution Method (also known as the Interim Total Contributions Approach) of pension calculation.

Since April 2019, all new State (Contributory) Pension applications are assessed under all possible rate calculation methods, including the Yearly Average and the interim Total Contributions Approach, with the most beneficial rate paid to the pensioner. The elements which make up each method are set out in legislation.

Foster parents are entitled to the benefits of the Homemakers Scheme or HomeCaring Periods, on the same basis as other homemakers, and will qualify if the carer is in receipt of Child Benefit. If the foster parent is not in receipt of Child Benefit s/he can still qualify for the Homemaker’s scheme or HomeCaring Periods provided the caring periods are confirmed by TUSLA (these are cases where caring is for a short period of time).

It should be noted that if a person does not satisfy the conditionality to qualify for State Pension (Contributory), s/he may qualify for the means-tested State Pension (Non-Contributory), the maximum rate of which is over 95% that of the maximum rate of the State Pension (Contributory). Alternatively, if his/her spouse is a State pensioner and has significant household means, his/her most beneficial payment may be an Increase for a Qualified Adult, based on his/her personal means, and amounting to up to 90% of a full contributory pension.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.