Monday 12 November 2018

Tens of thousands affected by pensions anomaly to be restored to higher rate from March - but won't get money until next year

*Thousands missing out on up to €35 a week because of an anomaly in the system

*An estimated 42,000 people, primarily women, were losing out

Tens of thousands of pensioners missing out on up to €35 a week Stock image
Tens of thousands of pensioners missing out on up to €35 a week Stock image

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

Thousands of pensioners who are missing out on up to €35 a week because of an anomaly in the system are to be restored to a higher rate from March – but they won’t get the money until 2019.

Ministers today approved a plan to appease older people who feel cheated by changes made to the way pensions are calculated in 2012.

It is estimated that 42,000 people, primarily women, were losing out because they took time out of the workplace, often to raise children.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty today announced the introduction of a new ‘HomeCaring Credit’ which will allows people to have taken up to 20 years out of the workplace.

Pensioners currently on the lower rate are to have their entitlements reassessed later this year.

If they qualify for a higher rate on foot of the new credit, this will be backdated to March 30, 2018.

Read more: 'They've taken my money, they're not going to take my life' - woman on how State Pension anomaly affected her health

However, as Ms Doherty does not have funding allocated for the pension top-ups this year the money will not be paid until the first quarter of 2019.

The Minister said not all 42,000 people will benefit as some may be better off under the existing system. If that’s the case they will be allowed to retain their current payment.

Ms Doherty said it was “unfair” that people were penalised in this way over the past five years – but said there will be no back payments for that period.

“The law as it stands right now is the 2012 law,” she said.

“We are genuinely fixing it as early as we can.”

She said it will take time to design and set up an administrative process to fix the situation but her department expects to make contact with affected pensioners in the third quarter of this year.

Pensioners do not need to contact the department or do anything else until written to by officials.

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