Dáil Éireann - Volume 497 - 25 November, 1998
Written Answers - Pension Provisions.
Mr. N. Ahern Mr. N. Ahern
154. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the cost of giving full credit for pre-1953 stamps for old age pension purposes; the numbers who would benefit from this change including those who would qualify for an old age pension but do not and those who would qualify for an increased or different social welfare payment; when credit for pre-53 stamps ceased; if, under current regulations, credits for old age pension purposes up to 65th birthday are given; and if he will confirm that each and every contribution paid in the last year is credited. [25139/98]
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern) Dermot Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The costings and statistics requested by the Deputy are not readily available.
As the Deputy will be aware, to qualify for the old age contributory pension, a person must have (i) entered insurance at least ten years before pension age; (ii) have at least 156 contributions paid, and (iii) have a yearly average of at least 20  contributions or 24 in the case of a retirement pension, registered since January 1953 — when the unified system of social insurance came into effect — or the time they started insurable employment, if later. The yearly average condition was reduced to ten contributions for the pro rata old age contributory pension which came into force with effect from 21 November last year. To qualify, a person with a yearly average of between ten and 19 must have 260 rather than 156 paid contributions.
I also recently announced the introduction of a new pro rata pension in the very specific case of self-employed people who were over age 56 in April 1988 when social insurance was extended to the self-employed. In this instance, the yearly average has been reduced to five due to the fact that these people, having paid into the social insurance fund, found themselves excluded from entitlement.
Prior to l953 three different types of contributions were payable — national health insurance, widow's and orphan's pension and unemployment insurance contributions. These gave specific entitlement only to the benefits of the schemes under which they were paid.
The old age contributory pension scheme was introduced in 1961. Contributions paid by insured persons prior to 196l did not contain an element in respect of this pension. However, as a concession and to enable persons reaching pension age at that time to qualify immediately for a contributory pension, contributions paid prior to 1953 were taken into account in calculating a person's entitlement to pension. These transitional arrangements operated until 1973. From that date contributions paid prior to 1953 were no longer counted for the purposes of satisfying the yearly average test.
However, contributions paid before 1953 under the National Health Insurance Acts can be taken into account for old age contributory pension purposes in satisfying the first two conditions, set out in the first paragraph above, but cannot be used in calculating the yearly average.
I have long stated my commitment to ensuring the most broadly feasible contributory pension coverage to as many categories as possible. With this in mind, my officials are undertaking a detailed review of the contribution conditions generally applying to the old age contributory and retirement pensions and I hope to have a report on this in the first quarter of next year. This review will include the issue raised by the Deputy.
Dáil Éireann 497 Written Answers Pension Provisions.