Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on 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.
Wherever possible, reviews will be processed based on information already held by the Department and where additional information is required about gap periods in a person's social insurance record, a written request will issue. To date, over 36,900 requests for information have issued.
Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary Regulations which, together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made.
As at 1 March 2019, 2,564 reviews had been completed and review outcomes issued. Of these, 2,027 resulted in an increase in payment. As at 2 April 2019, 13,915 reviews have been completed and of these, 10,398 received an increase in payment. The remaining 76,000 review outcomes will issue as individual reviews are completed. It is too early to provide the detailed statistics the Deputy requested at this time.
It will take a number of months to complete all the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records. Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and arrears paid backdated to 30 March 2018, or the pensioner’s 66th birthday if later. Where a person's rate does not increase following a review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment.
Separately, the option remains for any pensioner who qualifies for a reduced rate contributory pension to apply for state pension (non-contributory). This is a means-tested payment, based on the person's share of household means, where the maximum rate payable equates to 95% of the maximum rate of state pension (contributory). Another option also remains, where a person's spouse or partner is in receipt of state pension (contributory), that person may wish to claim an increase in respect of their qualified adult. This is also means-tested payment, based on the means of the person being claimed for, where the maximum rate is equal to 90% of the maximum rate of state pension (contributory).
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.