New pension system.
Laois homemakers and carers will benefit from 'significant improvements' to pensions who were affected by rate band changes in 2012, Laois TD & Minister for Justice & Equality Charlie Flanagan has claimed.
The Minister said the new Total Contributions Approach will calculate pensions based on all contributions made over a working career. There will also be provision for a new Home Caring Credit of up to 20 years to assist workers who took time out to raise families.
Due to a annual averaging system 42,000 people, mainly women, who took time out from work sometimes forced, are missing out on up to €35 per week in their State pension due to the 2012 changes. The changes will not see lost income payed to pensioners.
The new system will be implemented from the 30th of March, and payments to eligible pensioners will be backdated to this time.
“In recent months, many people expressed concern to me about their pension rates, which were affected by rate band changes in 2012. I have been in constant communication with my colleague, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty on this issue, highlighting the concerns of my constituents.
“The Government has been working to find a solution to this issue and the Government has agreed to allow post 2012 pensioners to choose between their current rate and that to be introduced under the Total Contributions Approach.
“This approach is expected to significantly benefit many people here in Laois particularly women, whose work history includes an extended period of time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in a caring role,” he said.
Minister Flanagan said the Department will invite over 40,000 pensioners, currently assessed under the 2012 rate band changes, to have their pensions recalculated under TCA to determine if they qualify for a higher rate of entitlement.
He said it would take time to set up the system so it would be late 2018 before invitations are issued.
he said pensioners do not need to contact the Department until written to by the Department nearer the end of the year. The first payments will be made from early 2019, with payment backdated to the 30th March 2018.
Minister Flangan said the TCA would ensure that "the totality of a person’s social insurance contributions - as opposed to the timing of them - determines a final pension outcome".
“No existing pensioner will see their pension reduced by this change- if their rate is improved by the TCA calculation option they will benefit, but if their TCA calculation entitlement is lower, they will remain on their existing rate.
“I am delighted that this new model will help build a sustainable future for those pensioners in Laois who took time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in a caring role,” he said.#
Active Retirement Ireland is disappointed that the Government has not chosen to reverse the cuts from 2012.
"[It] would be the easiest way to address the imbalance in the system that has affected up to 40,000 pensioners to date.
"We are also disappointed that the onus is on pensioners to opt-in to a scheme to rectify an error that was not of their making," " said ARI's Peter Kavanagh.