Since the end of September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of pensioners born on or after 1 September 1946 who were awarded state pension (contributory) on reduced post Budget 2012 rate bands. Information letters were issued to these pensioners explaining that my Department will contact them again to either inform them about the outcome of their review or to request further information in order to complete their review. All of the claims involved will be individually examined. Due to the numbers involved, the process will take a number of months to complete.
Where possible, my Department will use information already held to assist in these reviews. Additional information is being requested in writing from pensioners in relation to unexplained gaps in their social insurance record, if required to complete their review. These information requests also explain how to access my Department’s on-line service to provide the relevant information.
The letter issuing contains a phone number the pensioner can call if they are unable to complete the online form. Their contact details will be taken and a paper application form would issue to them when paper forms become available towards the end of February 2019. When the form is returned, the person’s state pension (contributory) pension will be reviewed and they will be informed of the outcome in writing.
It is expected that the first review outcomes will be notified during Quarter 1 2019. Regardless of when a review is completed, where a pensioner qualifies for an increase, the increase will be paid with their next due payment, together with arrears backdated to March 2018, or their 66th birthday if later. If a pensioner does not qualify for an increase, they will continue to receive their existing rate of payment. No personal pension entitlement rates will be reduced as a result of this review.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.