I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 99 together.
Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of around 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement.
In Quarter 4 2018, Information letters issued to those included in the review to explain the review process. Where possible, my Department will use information already held to assist in the reviews. In some, but not all, cases additional information is required from pensioners about unexplained gaps in their social insurance record to complete their review.
Where possible, my Department will use information already held to assist in these reviews. Additional information will be requested in writing from pensioners in relation to unexplained gaps in their social insurance record where required to complete their review.
Last month, almost 24,000 requests for additional information were issued to pensioners. These requests includes details on how to return the required information using the Department’s online services and also provides 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 could be issued to them. Paper applications have began issuing this week to these pensioners.
As the required legislative and system changes are now in place, I am pleased to let the Deputies know that the first reviews have been processed this week. Where an increase is awarded, the rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and backdated to 30 March 2018 or the person's 66th birthday if later. Where a pension rate does not increase as a result of this review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment. No one will be worse off as a result of this review.
Given the numbers involved, it will take my Department a number of months to complete the reviews. I can assure the Deputies that reviews will continue to be processed until all identified pensioners receive their review outcome in writing.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputies.