asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will include Irish emigrants, who have returned home because of ill health, in the various benefit schemes operated by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Written Answers. - Returned Irish Emigrants.
The position of Irish persons who return here from other member states of the EEC where they have been covered by social security schemes is explained in reply to Question No. 378 today.
Emigrants returning home from other EEC member states who were not so covered or from other countries usually cannot qualify for the various social insurance benefits under the Social Welfare Acts because they cannot satisfy the necessary qualifying contribution conditions. If, however, sufficient contributions had been paid in respect of them before they emigrated to satisfy the conditions for benefit and the absence from the State was for a short period only, they may qualify for benefit. In the case of retirement and old age (contributory) pensions, it would be possible for them to qualify for reduced rate pensions when they attain the appropriate age unless their absence had been unduly prolonged.
To provide benefits in a social insurance scheme for persons in respect of whom contributions had not been paid would be in conflict with the principles of insurance and I do not propose to amend the Social Welfare Acts to provide such cover for returned emigrants.
Emigrants who return home are entitled to the various social assistance services administered by my Department provided that they satisfy the relevant means and residence tests. Details of these are set out in the booklet Summary of the Social Insurance and Social Assistance Services issued by my Department.