I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 107 together.
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.
These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods. My Department has already written to these pensioners to explain the process.
Where possible, my Department will use information already held to assist in these reviews. In some cases additional information is required to complete their review. Over recent weeks, around 24,000 requests for additional information have been sent to pensioners about unexplained gaps in their social insurance record. These information requests also explain how to access my Department’s online service to provide the required information. The information request letter also provides a dedicated telephone number to support and assist pensioners who have difficulty in completing their online application. Over 4,800 online applications have been received.
Importantly, regardless of when a person’s review is processed, if they are due an increase their weekly rate will be adjusted without delay and arrears paid, backdated to 30 March 2018, or the person’s 66th birthday if later. If they are not due an increase, they will remain on their existing rate of payment. No one will be worse off as a result of this review.
As information requests have only recently issued to pensioners and we await replies from them it is too early to provide the detailed statistics to the Deputy requested at this time.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.