Dáil Éireann - Volume 508 - 06 October, 1999
Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.
Mr. McGrath Mr. McGrath
 79. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will review pre-1953 contributions paid by workers with a view to allowing credits for pension and welfare purposes. [19077/99]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): As I am sure the Deputy is aware, prior to 1953 different types of contributions were payable – national health insurance, widow's and orphan's pension and unemployment insurance contributions – which gave specific entitlement only to the benefits of the schemes under which they were paid. The unified system of social insurance was introduced in 1953 and the first major extension to the range of contingencies covered came in 1961 with the introduction of the old age contributory pension scheme.
While contributions paid prior to 1961 contained no pension element, it was decided to count all such contributions paid under the unified scheme towards qualification for the new pension. Special transitional arrangements were also made for people who were close to reaching pension age at that time, which permitted certain contributions paid before 1953 to be taken into account for satisfying the yearly average test.
In addition, provision was made for pre-1953 contributions, paid under the national health insurance Acts, to be taken into account for the purposes of satisfying two of the qualifying contribution conditions for the old age contributory pension, namely that a person must (i) have entered insurance at least ten years before pension age and (ii) have, at least, 156 contributions paid. This arrangement still applies.
I have often stated my commitment to ensuring that contributory pension coverage is as widely available as possible, and in this context, the Department is examining the issue of contributions paid prior to 1953 as part of a wider review of the contribution conditions applying to the old age contributory and retirement pensions. This review is nearing completion but I have to say that any change to the existing situation in relation to pre-1953 contributions would have to be carefully considered in the context of overall budgetary resources.
Dáil Éireann 508 Written Answers. Pension Provisions.