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'Cruel' State pension changes are still affecting thousands

Despite government revisions, only 32,307 pensioners have received an increase in their pension, which is “significantly lower than expected”.

Image: Shutterstock/Maleo

THE GOVERNMENT HAS been criticised for the way in which they’re remunerating pensioners after “mean-spirited, cruel” changes were introduced in 2012.

Changes to the State pension introduced by the government at the time meant that carers who took time off work received less in their State pension – which particularly affected women who took time out to have children.

Last year, Fine Gael promised to review the anomaly, and indicated that it would cost €55 million to fix it. The new approach meant that pensions would be calculated differently, and that up to 20 years of a new HomeCaring credit would be included.

In response to a Parliamentary Question posed by TD Mary Butler, the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection said that around 90,000 pensioners are having their documentation reviewed, and that to date, 77,193 reviews have been completed.

However, only 32,307 pensioners have received an increase in their pension, which Mary Butler says is “significantly lower than expected”.

Butler, who is Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on older people, says older people are still paying the price for these “mean-spirited” changes which disproportionately impact on women. 

“I have been contacted by pensioners who are extremely disappointed and disillusioned with the process and feel that they are being discriminated against.

The cruel pension anomaly brought in by Fine Gael and Labour is continuing to penalise pensioners – mostly women who took time out of the workforce to care for family members or raise children – and is not only deeply unfair, it is also deeply disrespectful.

Where an increase is due, the Department said that the person’s rate of payment is adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the person’s 66th birthday if later.

“Outcomes will continue to issue to individuals as soon as their reviews are completed. It will take a number of months to complete the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records. It is anticipated that this work will be completed at the end of September 2019,” the Department said in its reply.

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