Dáil Éireann - Volume 550 - 20 March, 2002

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Payments.

  512. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will review the pension for a person (details supplied) in County Galway in view of the change in their circumstances. [8331/02]

[1306]

  Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The person concerned is currently in receipt of a widow's (non-contributory) pension at the reduced weekly rate of €113.80, based on income from a farm. Her file has been forwarded to a local officer for a review of her means. On receipt of the local officer's report, her claim will be examined by a deciding officer and she will be notified of the outcome.

  Under social welfare legislation, decisions in relation to claims are made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

  513. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the reasons a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 is not being paid the full qualified adult dependent payment in respect of their spouse; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that his Department has advised this person that in view of the fact that this person is in receipt of a pro-rata pension, their qualified adult dependent allowance is similarly reduced; if this is the case; when this change was introduced; the reason therefore; the reason this change has not been relayed to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8383/02]

  Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Since April, 2001, for contributions averages below 20, the personal rates of pension and the rates of qualified adult allowance, QAA, bear a similar relationship to the maximum rates, that is, 75% of the maximum in each case for averages between 15 and 19 and 50% for averages between ten and 14. Prior to 6 April 2001 the same rate of QAA applied regardless of whether the pensioner was on full rate, 75% rate or 50% personal rate. This created anomalies, particularly in the context of the significant increases in QAA rates which have been [1307] provided for over recent years and which could otherwise give rise to rates of QAA in excess of the personal rates. The additional increases in QAA rates were provided as part of a process of increasing the rate of QAA for persons over 66 to the same level as the personal rate of old age (non-contributory) pension.

  The measures introduced in the Social Welfare Act, 2001 standardised the treatment of QAAs so that they compared to the personal rate that is being paid. However, in applying the new arrangements existing pensioners with reduced yearly averages retained their existing levels of QAA and, where the qualified adult was over age 66, they also received an increase of €10.15, £8.00. In the case of the person concerned, who is in receipt of a pro-rata old age contributory pension based on a yearly average of 17 contributions and whose qualified adult dependant is over 66, this brought his QAA rate to €92.20, £72.60. From January 2002 his QAA rate has increased to €98.50, £77.58. His total current weekly entitlement is €209, £164.60, comprising a personal rate of €110.50, £140.30, and QAA of €98.50, £77.60.

  The various measures referred to formed part of the annual budget provisions for social welfare payments which were publicised and enacted in the normal way.