Thursday, 1 February 2018

Ceisteanna (324)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

324. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the pension entitlements of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; the entitlement of the person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5071/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of a reduced rate widow(er)/survivor’s contributory pension, with effect from 17 July 1979, based on their own insurance record.

The person’s entitlement to state pension (contributory) was examined on 10 February 2017. According to the records of my Department, the person concerned has a social insurance record of 1,637 reckonable contributions and credits, based on an assessed yearly average of 33 contributions, covering their working life from date of entry into insurable employment in July 1969 to end 2016. The person concerned has no recorded contributions for the tax years 1978/79 to 1987/88 inclusive or 1989/90 to 1992/93 and has a number of partially complete years. This affects their overall yearly average and, consequently, their rate of weekly pension entitlement. The person was notified of their state pension (contributory) entitlement on 10 February 2017 and informed that they were better off to remain on their existing payment which would become payable at the increased ‘over age 66’ rate with effect from their 66th birthday. Attached to that letter was a copy of their contribution record, as held by my Department upon which their entitlement was calculated.

Additional information regarding unrecorded contributions has since been provided by the person concerned and their state pension (contributory) entitlement is being re-examined. On completion, the outcome of that review will be notified to the person concerned without delay. Any change to the person’ insurance record based on the additional information provided will not affect the persons existing rate of entitlement, as social insurance paid after the death of their spouse is not reckonable for widow(er)/survivor’s pension purposes.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government recently announced proposals that pensioners who qualified for state pension (contributory) since September 2012, and whose rate of entitlement was impacted by the 2012 rate band changes, may apply for a review to have their entitlement considered under a new Total Contribution Approach (TCA). It will take some time to draft and pass the necessary legislation, and then develop the systems and procedures necessary to administer the new pension entitlement option. Accordingly, it is not necessary for any person to contact the Department about their situation. Instead, the Department expects to start issuing invitations to these pensioners from Quarter 4 2018 to apply for a review under the new pension eligibility arrangements, and to notify any periods spent caring for which HomeCaring credits may be due. Review applicants will be notified of the outcome of their review and any applicable higher rate of entitlement will be paid to them. Such payments are expected to commence from Q1 2019. Where an increase is awarded, it will be backdated to 30 March 2018.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.