Dáil Éireann - Volume 507 - 29 June, 1999
Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.
Mr. P. Carey Mr. P. Carey
 208. Mr. P. Carey asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will revoke the statutory instrument which prevents an old age pensioner from benefiting from every social welfare contribution paid in the last year before reaching 66 years of age in view of the fact it is the Year of the Elderly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16436/99]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): I refer the Deputy to my reply to his earlier Question No. 90 on 2 June last.
Contributions paid by a person in the last year of his or her employment before reaching the age of 66 may be taken into account to satisfy one of the three qualifying conditions governing the old age (contributory) pension payment, namely that a person must have at least 156 contributions paid, or, if the yearly average is between ten and 19, at least 260 paid.
However, such contributions may not be used to satisfy the qualifying condition of having a yearly average of at least ten 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 commenced insurable employment, if later, up to the end of the last complete contribution year before reaching pension age.
As indicated in my previous reply, my Department is, at present, undertaking a detailed review of the qualifying conditions generally applying to the old age (contributory) and retirement pension schemes and in particular the operation of the yearly average condition. I will consider this issue further in the light of the outcome of this review.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
209. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has been told to return his pension book in view of the fact that his only income is £12 per week rent from a small house and a case made on his behalf in April 1999 has not been replied to; and if he will have arrangements made to have the pension restored. [16440/99]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The person concerned applied for an old age, or non-contributory, pension in September 1998. This is a meanstested payment entitlement to which depends on the weekly value of the persons means.
In assessing means for old age pension purposes, account is taken of any cash income the person may have, together with the value of any capital and the value of property owned but not personally used or enjoyed.
The person concerned was awarded a pension at the weekly rate of £18.50 per week from 18 September 1998, based on a means assessment of  £59.40 a week, deriving from capital of £2,595 in the bank and an estimated value of £30,000 for property, i.e. a house owned but not personally used. He was also paid an over-80 allowance of £5.00 a week, living alone allowance of £6.00 a week and a fuel allowance of £5.00 a week, during the heating season from mid-October to mid-April. This award was made pending the valuation office valuation of the property concerned. This was received in January 1999 and estimated the value of the property at £50,000.
In the light of this new information, the person concerned is no longer entitled to pension as his means, including the net yearly value of the property, exceed the current statutory limit of £82.00 per week.
The person concerned was advised of this position on 13 April 1999 and invited to furnish any views or comments he had to offer before his entitlement was revised. The Deputy's reply on his behalf indicated the income being received from renting the property in question. Under the legislation, however, the capital value of the property and not the income it is producing, must be assessed.
A formal decision on his entitlement to old age (non-contributory) pension will issue to the claimant shortly. He will also be advised of his right of appeal against the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office if he is dissatisfied with the decision.
My Department is currently reviewing the method used to determine the value of capital and property but any change in the method of assessing the value of capital or property would require an amendment of the legislation. There would also be financial implications which would have to be considered on a budgetary context.
Dáil Éireann 507 Written Answers. Pension Provisions.