Monday 25 March 2019

U-turn welcomed on pension plan

Cllr Michael Sheehan.
Cllr Michael Sheehan.

David Looby

Changes made to the pension in 2012, which cost some pensioners in Co Wexford thousands of euros, have been reversed to a limited degree.

Councillor Michael Sheehan has welcomed the commitment to start undoing the 2012 pension changes with monies payable to elderly residents across the district this week.

The Fianna Fáil councillor, who has been one of several campaigning for the u-turn for over three years nationally, said: 'This is a huge week for Wexford's pensioners as some of their hard earned money will be repaid by the Minister for Social Protection. It is the start, but we still have a long road to full parity. It's a victory for the hard-working pensioners.'

Since 2012, thousands of pensioners in County Wexford, mostly women, have had their pensions reduced by the tightening of pension criteria by the Government.

'The introduction of these changes requiring almost double the stamps paid and six rates instead of three, ensured that people about to retire would have their pension reduced if they didn't have enough average contributions. In some cases this could be up to €100 per week,' Cllr Sheehan said.

He said these changes hit the stay at home mothers hardest as they took time out of work to raise a family or care for a loved one.

'The Government short-changed them just as they were about to retire. The Homemakers credit was brought in 2004 but only from 1994 onwards. Last year, the Minister conceded the need to fix this problem.

'All those affected by the changes are being notified and additional credits applied to their applications, almost giving full pensions to the thousands who ordinarily would have had full rights. However, the monies will only be backdated to March 2018 - not 2012 when the rules changed.'

Cllr Sheehan has been the only local representative to pursue the pension issue working with Fianna Fáil representatives Mary Butler and Willie O'Dea.

'This is not the end: this is only the beginning, as we are winning the argument and slowly getting full parity and pension restoration. It's a slow, stressful process that will not totally resolve the anomaly. I want the Government to backdate and restore the pensions in full for the people who worked hard, played by the rules and were short changed by the government at the eleventh hour.'

If anyone has any concerns about their pension and or these changes should make contact with Cllr Sheehan on (085) 1349020.

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