Thursday, 21 November 2019

Ceisteanna (246)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

246. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 303 of 24 October 2019, the number of the women in receipt of the State pension (contributory) based on pre-September 2012 bands that are not in the highest band that would have qualified for a higher band if they could be assessed under the homemakers' scheme or the home carers’ scheme; the number of the 23,822 women listed in the highest band of the current State pension (contributory) based on pre September 2012 bands that include the 10,808 women that fall within the invalidity saver cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48384/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Homemakers Scheme was introduced on 6 April 1994 to make qualification for state pension (contributory) easier for a claimant who took time out of the workforce for caring duties. It allows up to 20 years (since 1994) spent caring for children under 12 years of age or for an incapacitated person(s) to be disregarded in calculating a person's yearly average number of contributions and credits, and for homemaker credits to be awarded for homemaking periods of less than a full contribution year.

In January 2018, HomeCaring Periods were introduced as part of the interim total contributions approach (TCA) to the calculation of pension entitlement for those state pension (contributory) customers born on or after 1 September 1946 and in receipt of pension on post-2012 Budget rates. The TCA provides for up to 20 years of home caring periods in that pension entitlement calculation for applicants who took time out of the workplace for parenting or caring duties. I am advised that it is unknown how many on pre 2012 reduced rates would qualify for a higher rate under the TCA. These claims were not reviewed as they were not affected by the 2012 Budget changes.

According to the most recent records of my Department, 39,557 women are in receipt of state pension (contributory) under the pre-Budget 2012 rate bands at less than the maximum rate of pension. Of these, 707 women could not have benefited from the Homemakers Scheme as they were pension age before the introduction of the scheme in 1994. The provisions of the Homemakers Scheme would have been applied in processing the remaining claims if the persons concerned had advised of their caring duties in their application. It should be noted, however, that while a person’s yearly average may increase under the provisions of the Homemakers Scheme, it may still remain within the same rate band and thus may not result in an increase in pension.

The 23,833 women on the maximum rate of state pension (contributory) are those who have been assessed with a yearly average of 48 contributions or over. The 10,808 who were in receipt of Invalidity Pension at maximum rate prior to their 66th birthday and who automatically transferred to the maximum rate of State pension (contributory) on reaching pension age are not included in the figure of 23,833.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.