Positive pension change for OAP applicants

Anne Mitchell: Increase Ewe Premium to cover extra cost.
Anne Mitchell: Increase Ewe Premium to cover extra cost.

A COHORT of the farming population – mostly farmers’ wives who gave up their jobs in the 1974 to 1994 period – now stand a far better chance of qualifying for the Contributory Old Age Pension, following changes agreed by the Dept. of Social Protection.

Many farmers’ wives whose employment ceased between 1974 and 1994 – when they got married – found that they had no social welfare ‘stamp’ allowance to fall back on for that period, when it came to applying for a Contributory Old Age Pension.

Back in April, 1994, the Homemakers Scheme was introduced – that would ‘ignore’ or ‘disregard’ the period at home as regards stamps average – when an application for the Contributory Pension was being made.

However, from January 1, 2012, an important change was introduced by the Dept. of Social Protection, where instead of a total of 260 stamps (5 years working prior to retirement) being sufficient, the applicant needed an average of 48 stamps per year, over the course of their working life.

According to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, this change had a hugely negative impact for many applicants and especially those who worked in the home from 1974 to 1994 [the year the Homemaker’s Scheme came in].

“What the Department have now agreed is that this cohort of people – many of them women but also some men too – will now get credits for this period of time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.