Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (94)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

94. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if all pensioners affected by the reduced rates of entitlement in budget 2012 have now been contacted; the number contacted to date; the number requested to produce further information; the number whose weekly payments will be adjusted and arrears paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7655/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of pensioners born on or after 01 September 1946 who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement.  Where possible, my Department will use the information already held to assist in the reviews. In some cases, additional information is required from pensioners about unexplained gaps in their social insurance record to progress their review.

My Department has issued information letters to circa 79,000 pensioners who had been awarded State pension contributory prior to 31 December 2018 which explained the review process. 

The information letter also explained that not all pensioners included in the review would be required to provide additional information to my Department in order for their review to be processed.

Last month requests for additional information were issued.  These requests included details on how to provide the required information using the Department’s online services and also provided a dedicated telephone number to call if people had difficulty using the online application.  Details of those who called have been recorded so that paper applications can be issued to them towards the end of February. 

From last week, review outcomes letters have began issuing to pensioners.  Increased payments, where applicable, will begin to be made this week.  These increased payments will include arrears of pension from 30 March 2018 or the pensioner's 66th birthday if later.  As there are many contributing factors to determining if a pensioners rate will increase, it will not be possible to say how many pensioners will benefit until the information requests have been returned and all reviews have been completed.

It should be noted thar 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.  No one will be worse of as a result of this review.   

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.