State Pension (Transition)


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Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Table of Contents

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT
Description of Scheme
Legislation
Administration

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN SUMMARY:
Social Insurance Contribution Categories
Full-rate contributions
Modified rate contributions

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN DETAIL:
Retirement
Contribution Conditions
First contribution condition - age at entry
Second contribution condition - number of full-rate employment contributions paid
Insurance prior to 1953 -
Third contribution condition - the average test
EU or Bilateral Agreement (BA) pro-rata State Pension Transition
Legislation
Qualifying Conditions
General
Countries covered by EC regulations
Countries with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security
agreement
Pension age
Bilateral Agreement Countries
Calculation of rate of payment
Mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension Transition
Calculation of rate of payment
Allowances

DISQUALIFICATIONS
Late Claims
Imprisonment

PAYMENT RATES STRUCTURE
Increases in Pension and Additional Allowances
Increase in pension for a Qualified Spouse/ Civil Partner/ Cohabitant
Increase for a Qualified Child
Living Alone Increase
Fuel allowance
After Death Benefits

EXTRA BENEFITS
Carer's Allowance
Household Benefits
Free Travel
Other benefits available from a relevant health service executive

OVERLAPPING PROVISIONS

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND PROCEDURES
Claims
Late Claims
Documentation
Examination of Claim
Decisions
Appeals

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD
Payment
Payment Methods
Duration of Payment
Transfer to State Pension Contributory
After Death Benefits
Bereavement Grant
Separate Payments
Maintenance
Age allowances
Lost/Stolen book/cheque
Payment to an agent.
Change of Post Office/Bank, Method of Payment or address
Illness/Hospital Stays
Imprisonment
Absence from the State
Certification of ongoing entitlement
Review
Suspension/Revocation


PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

Description of Scheme

State Pension Transition is a social insurance based payment made to qualified people between age 65 and 66. This is not a means-tested payment. However a person must be retired in order to receive payment up to age 66.

 

State Pension (Transition) was known as Retirement Pension up to 27 September 2006.

State pension (transition) is being abolished from the 1st of January 2014. 

This means State pension (transition) will no longer be payable for claimants whose date of birth is on or after the 1st of January 1949. 

Legislation

The main provisions relating to State Pension Transition are contained in

  • Chapter 16 (sections 114 - 117) of Part 2 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 as amended, and
  • Chapter 8 of Part 2 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 142 of 2007) as amended.
  • Section 6 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 as amended.
  • Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2012 (S.I. Numbers 102 and 321 of 2012)
Administration

The scheme is administered by the Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN SUMMARY:

A person must

  • be aged between 65 and 66 years
  • be retired (from employment and self-employment)
  • satisfy social insurance contribution conditions

NOTE FOR INFORMATION

Social Insurance Contribution Categories

For State Pension Transition purposes, social insurance contributions can be divided into two categories - full-rate and modified rate.

Full-rate contributions:

Full-rate contributions are reckonable for State Pension Transition. There are two types of full-rate contributions, as follows:

Full-rate employment contributions (i.e. contributions paid as an insurably employed person):

  • PRSI contributions at classes A, E, F, G, H and N
    (PRSI was introduced in April 1979)
  • most contribution classes paid prior to April 1979 except for those payable in respect of permanent and pensionable Civil and Public servants who paid modified rate (see below re modified rate)

Full-rate voluntary contributions (i.e. contributions paid on a voluntary basis by a person who is not insurably employed):

- high rate voluntary contributions
(see separate guideline " PRSI Voluntary Contributions" re voluntary contributions)

Modified rate contributions:

Modified rate contributions are not reckonable for State Pension Transition (they can however be used when calculating entitlement to a mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension Transition - see below) .

There are two types of modified rate contributions, as follows:

Modified rate employment contributions:

  • PRSI contributions at classes B, C, D
    (PRSI was introduced in April 1979)
  • contributions paid prior to April 1979 in respect of permanent and pensionable Civil and Public servants

Modified rate voluntary contributions:

- low rate voluntary contributions

(see separate guideline " PRSI Voluntary Contributionss" re voluntary contributions)

Note: Social insurance contributions paid by the self-employed (class S PRSI or special rate VCs) are not reckonable for State Pension Transition. However, where a person has full-rate contributions, modified rate contributions and self-employment contributions, the self-employment contributions are treated in the same way as modified rate contributions for the purposes of calculating mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension Transition entitlement. However, a person cannot qualify for mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension Transition based on full-rate contributions and self-employment contributions only - there must be some modified rate contributions also (See mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension Transition below).

Note: PRSI contributions at classes J and K and pre 1979 employment contributions which provide cover for Occupational Injuries Benefit only are not reckonable for pension purposes.

Credits : Credited contributions are awarded in certain circumstances by the Department, generally in respect of periods of unemployment or incapacity for work due to illness. See separate guideline on " Credited Contributions" .

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN DETAIL:

Retirement:

A person must be retired, i.e. not engaged in insurable employment or insurable self-employment between age 65 and age 66.

Note: a person is regarded as retired if in employment that is insurable at class J PRSI (i.e. earning less than 38.09 a week or self-employed with earnings of less than €5000 a year).

Note: a person may have a liability to pay contributions as a self-employed person but still be regarded as retired for the purposes of State Pension Transition. In such circumstances the Department would have to be satisfied that the person was not engaging in insurable self-employment e.g. self-employment contributions liability derives from unearned income such as interest on investments, dividends, etc.

Contribution Conditions

First contribution condition - age at entry

A person must have started paying social insurance employment contributions at full or modified rate before age 55.

Insurance prior to 1953 - National Health Insurance contributions paid prior to 1953 are reckonable in order to satisfy the condition of entry into social insurance before age 55.

Second contribution condition - number of full-rate employment contributions paid

  • A person reaching age 65 on or before 5 April 2002 must have paid 156 full-rate employment contributions.
  • A person reaching age 65 between 6 April 2002 and 5 April 2012 (both dates inclusive) must have paid 260 full-rate employment contributions.
    Note: There is one exception. Persons who commenced paying high rate voluntary contributions on or before 6 April 1997 will need only 156 full-rate employment contributions paid.
  • A person reaching age 65 on or after 6 April 2012 must have paid 520 full-rate employment contributions, or, if at least 260 full-rate employment contributions are paid, the balance of the 520 can be made up with high rate voluntary contributions
    Note: There is one exception. Persons who:
    -commenced paying high rate voluntary contributions on or before 6 April 1997, and - have 156 full-rate employment contributions paid, will satisfy this condition if they can make up the balance of the 520 with high rate voluntary contributions.
Insurance prior to 1953

National Health Insurance contributions paid prior to 1953 are reckonable in order to satisfy the condition of having a certain number of contributions paid. Every 2 such contributions are counted as 3, and any odd contribution is counted as 2.

Third contribution condition - the average test

Maximum rate of pension is payable where a person has a "yearly average" of at least 48. The yearly average is the average number of contributions paid and/or credited per year over the period from 1953, or from the year of starting insurable employment, if later, to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age (65).

Maximum rate pension is also payable where a person has an "alternative yearly average" of at least 48. The alternative yearly average is the average number of contributions paid and/or credited over the period from April 1979 to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age (65). The alternative yearly average applies only to persons who reached age 65 on or after 6 April 1992.

A reduced rate pension is payable where a person has a yearly average of between 24 and 47. (See rates structure below).

Points to note:

Insurance prior to 1953: Where National Health Insurance contributions have been counted for the first or second condition, the yearly average is counted from the start of the 1953 contribution year - 5 January 1953 in the case of a man, and 6 July 1953 in the case of a woman.

Rounding up: From July 1992 in calculating the yearly average, a fraction of a whole number consisting of one half or more is rounded up to the nearest whole number e.g. 23.5 is rounded up to 24, 47.5 is rounded up to 48.

A PERSON WHO DOES NOT QUALIFY FOR A PENSION AS OUTLINED ABOVE MAY QUALIFY FOR ONE OF THE FOLLOWING PENSIONS:

EU or Bilateral Agreement (BA) pro-rata State Pension Transition

This pension is based on a combination of full-rate Irish social insurance contributions and reckonable social insurance in EU countries or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement. The pension is a pro-rata payment based on the proportion of Irish social insurance contributions to the total number of contributions paid and/or credited i.e. Irish and other insurance combined.

Legislation

EU pension scheme is governed by Council Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 and No 574/72, as amended. Bilateral Agreement pensions are governed by formal agreements with the relevant countries which are contained in statutory instruments.

Qualifying Conditions

The qualifying conditions are as previously outlined, but with some modification:

To qualify for this pension

  • the first qualifying condition must be satisfied. However it can be satisfied on Irish social insurance or social insurance in the EU country/countries or a bilateral agreement country.
  • the second qualifying condition is altered in that Irish social insurance contributions and social insurance contributions in the EU country/countries or a bilateral agreement country can be combined for the purpose of satisfying the condition of having 156 contributions paid. However, there must be at least 52 contributions, of which at least one must be paid, in Ireland and in the EU country/countries or the bilateral agreement country.
    (changes in this condition for persons reaching pension age from 6 April 2002 and 6 April 2012 also apply, except that Irish social insurance contributions and social insurance contributions in the other country can be combined for this purpose.)
  • the third condition is altered to allow full-rate Irish and reckonable social insurance in the EU country/countries or the bilateral agreement country to be combined when calculating the yearly average number of contributions.

General

A person should normally make a claim to pension in the country of residence. A person living in Ireland should therefore apply for pension to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. If the claimant indicates that they were insured* in an EU country or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Agreement, a claim to pension in that country is made by the Department on the claimant's behalf. The date of claim in Ireland is taken as the date of claim by the other country.

This same procedure applies in reverse if the claim to pension is made in another country but the person has social insurance contributions in Ireland.

* Note: in certain countries, residence alone provides cover for social insurance

Countries covered by EC regulations:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (excluding the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)

Countries with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement:

Australia, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, the United States of America, Quebec and Switzerland.

Note: Ireland has reciprocal agreements with a number of countries. However in most cases these countries are now covered by agreements under EC regulations or Bilateral Agreements. For further details on these Reciprocal Agreements, please contact the Department.

Pension age

Pension ages in the various countries are as follows:

Pension Ages In Countries Covered by EC Regulations

EU Countries

Male

Female

Austria

65

60

Belgium

60 to 65

60 to 65

Denmark

67

67

Finland

65

65

France

60

60

Germany

65

65

Greece

65

60

Iceland

-

-

Italy
(a "seniority pension" is given after 35 years of contributions regardless of age)

60

55

Liechtenstein

-

-

Luxembourg

65

65

Norway

67

67

Portugal

65

62

Spain

65

65

Sweden

65

65

The Netherlands

65

65

United Kingdom

65

60

Bilateral Agreement Countries

Pension Ages In Countries Covered by Bilateral Agreement

Countries

Male

Female

Australia

65

60

Austria

65

60

Canada

60 to 65

60 to 65

New Zealand

65

65

USA

62 to 65

62 to 65

Quebec

65

65

Switzerland

-

-

Calculation of rate of payment

The rate pension, where insurance contributions in another country are being combined with Irish contributions, is calculated as follows:

Step 1: The notional pension is calculated. Notional pension is that which would be payable if all social insurance contributions, both full-rate Irish and non-Irish, were treated as Irish contributions. The full-rate Irish and non-Irish reckonable contributions are therefore added together and the total is then divided by the number of years to get the yearly average number of contributions.

Step 2: The following formula is then used

(A x B)/C

A = the notional rate of pension i.e. the rate (personal plus increase for qualified adult, if applicable (see below re qualified spouse/civil partner/ cohabitant)) which would be payable if all social insurance, both full-rate Irish and foreign, was treated as full rate Irish social insurance.

B = the no. of full rate Irish contributions

C = the total no. of contributions (full rate Irish + foreign)

Allowances: While the increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant and the age 80 allowance are subject to the pro-rata calculation, the other allowances (Increase for a qualified child, Living alone increase and fuel allowance) are payable at the standard domestic rate.

Increase for a qualified child is payable in one country only.

Mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension Transition

This pro-rata pension, which was introduced in November 1991, is based on a combination of full and modified rate contributions (see above for an explanation of these categories). Prior to this, many persons who paid a mixture of full and modified rate social insurance contributions did not qualify for pension despite the fact that they paid full-rate contributions for part of their working lives. These persons may now qualify for a pension based on the number of full-rate contributions as a proportion of their total contributions i.e. full and modified rate.

To qualify for this pension

  • the first qualifying condition must be fulfilled.
  • the second qualifying condition must also be fulfilled.
    (changes in this condition for persons reaching pension age on or after 6 April 2002 also apply except that there is no saver clause for voluntary contributors. Also, for persons reaching pension age on or after 6 April 2012, 520 contributions must be paid. However the 520 may be made up in either of the following ways
    - 520 full-rate employment contributions, or
    - 520 employment contributions of which at least 260 must be full-rate employment contributions. The remainder may be made up with modified rate employment contributions.)
  • the third condition is altered to allow full-rate and modified rate* contributions to be taken into account when calculating the yearly average number of contributions.
    *(see note on above re self-employment contributions)
  • a person must have at least 1 modified rate employment contribution

See separate guideline regarding " Credited Contributions" .

Calculation of rate of payment:

The rate pension, where full and modified insurance contributions are combined, is calculated as follows:

Step 1: The notional pension is calculated. Notional pension is the pension that would be paid if all social insurance contributions, both full and modified rate, were treated as full-rate contributions. The full and modified rate contributions are therefore added together and the total is then divided by the number of years to get the yearly average.

Step 2: The following formula is then used:

(A x B)/C

A = the notional rate of pension i.e. the rate (personal plus increase for a qualified adult, if applicable) that would be payable if all contributions, both full and modified rate, were treated as full rate contributions.

B = the number of full rate contributions

C = the total number of contributions (full and modified rate)

Allowances:

While the increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant is subject to the pro-rata calculation, the allowances (Increase for a qualified child, living alone increase and fuel allowance) are payable at the standard rate.

DISQUALIFICATIONS

Late Claims:

A person is disqualified for payment of State Pension Transition in respect of any period more than 6 months before the date on which the claim is made. This disqualification also applies to any increase or allowance.

See fuller comment at Part 2 below and separate guideline " Claims and Late Claims" for more detail on late claims and other circumstances in which payment of pension may be further backdated.

Imprisonment:

A person is disqualified for payment of personal rate of pension while undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody. An increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant (see below re. qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant) or an increase for a qualified child can still be paid.

A person is disqualified for receipt of an increase for a qualified adult while the qualified adult is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.

(See Part 3. below and fuller comment re. imprisonment in separate guideline on " Payment Related Issues" )

PAYMENT RATES STRUCTURE

Payment is made up of a personal rate plus any increase or allowances which may be due.

Personal rate: Personal rate of pension depends on the yearly average number of contributions, as follows:

48 or over - Maximum personal rate is payable.

24 - 47 - Reduced rate is payable

From 1st September 2012

48 or over  - Maximum personal rate is payable

40-47 - Reduced rates are payable

30-39  - Reduced rates are payable

24-29 - Reduces rates are payable

 

Note: prior to 4 May 2000 the 24 - 47 yearly average band was divided into two bands, 24 - 35 and 36 - 47, with different rates payable for each band.

See the Rates Booklet SW 19 which is issued annually for the current rates of payment.

Increases in Pension and Additional Allowances

Increase in pension for a Qualified Spouse/ Civil Partner/ Cohabitant:

This is payable in respect of a spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant who is being financially maintained and whose income is not greater than a specified limit currently €310.

Where the spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant's income is not more than €100 a week, the full relevant rate of qualified adult spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant increase is payable. Where the spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant's income is more than €100 a week but not more than €310 a week, reduced rates of qualified spouce/ civil partner/ cohabitant increase are payable.

If the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of a claimant deprives themselves of income or property (including money) in order for the claimant to qualify for an Increase for qualified adult , or improve a weekly rate of payment, that income or property will be included in the means test if transfer of asset/s has taken place on or after 29 November 2011. (This may not apply in the case of a farm transfer)

If the pensioner has children living with him/her and is single, widowed or separated, s/he may qualify for qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant increase for a person who is caring for the child/ren provided that person is living with and being supported by the pensioner.

The qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant rate is increased when the qualified adult reaches age 66.

An increase is payable in respect of one qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant only.

(See separate guideline " Increase for Qualified Adult" re conditions for receipt of increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant)

Increase for a Qualified Child:

This is payable in respect of a qualified child who is normally resident with the pensioner. A child is regarded as a dependant up to age 18, or if in full-time education by day at any university, college, school or other educational establishment, up to end of academic year (June) of the year in which the qualified child reaches age 22.

Half rate is payable in certain circumstances i.e. where the child is normally resident with the pensioner and the spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant but the pensioner does not qualify for an increase for the spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant because the spouse is not regarded as a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant.

From 6th July 2012 a pensioner is not entitled to claim half-rate increase for a Qualified Child if their spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant has an income of over €400 per week.

*Note: If a person is getting pension from this country and from an EU country or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Agreement, increase for a qualified child is payable by one country only. It is normally paid by the country in which the pensioner is resident.

(See separate guideline " Increase for a Qualified Child" for fuller details on Increase for a qualified child)

Fuel Allowance:

This is payable for a 26 week period from October to mid-April each year. Only one allowance is payable per household. Entitlement depends mainly on the means and the composition of the household.

(See separate guideline " Fuel Allowance" for fuller details on fuel allowance)

After Death Benefit

The next of kin of a deceased person has a legal onus to register the death.

Payment of pension may continue for six weeks after death in certain circumstances. Notification of date of death should be given to the Department at the earliest possible date. See part 3. below and separate guideline on " Payment Related Issues" for fuller detail. See also separate guideline on "Bereavement Grants". This grant is based on payment of social insurance contributions.

Extra Benefits

Carer's Allowance

This may be payable to a person who provides full-time care and attention to a pensioner who is medically certified as being incapacitated and requiring full-time care and attention. From September 2007 it may be possible to receive State Pension Transition or an Increase for a Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant and also receive a half rate of Carer's Allowance. See separate guideline " Carer's Allowance" for more detail.

Household Benefits

Household Benefits are allowances in respect of Electricity and Telephone costs and provision of a free TV Licence. A person will not normally qualify for these allowances until age 66. `See seperate guideline "Household Benefits Package" for more detail.

Other benefits available from a relevant Health Service Executive

  • Medical Card from a relevant Health Service Execitive 
  • Rent or mortgage interest subsidy
  • Exceptional Needs Payments
  • Diet Supplement

Application should be made to the Community Welfare Officer in your local Health Centre. A means test and other qualifying conditions may apply.

(see separate guideline Supplementary Welfare Allowance" on Supplementary Welfare Allowance)

Overlapping Provisions

State Pension Trasition and any of the Social Welfare payments listed below or supplementary welfare allowance are not payable concurrently.

Also, an increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant is not payable in respect of a person getting any of the payments listed below or supplementary welfare allowance. However, if the qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant  increase is payable at a higher rate, the person may opt to become a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant on State Pension Transition rather than continue on his/her own payment.

(See separate guideline re " Overlapping Payments " )

  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Blind Person's Pension
  • Carer's Allowance - see upcoming changes from September 2007
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance
  • Disability Allowance
  • Illness Benefit
  • Health & Safety Benefit
  • Injury Benefit
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Maternity Benefit
  • State Pension Contributory
  • State Pension Non-contributory
  • One Parent Family Payment
  • Pre-Retirement Allowance
  • Prisoners Wife's Allowance
  • State Pension Transition
  • Incapacity Supplement
  • Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance
  • Widows, Widowers or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND PROCEDURES

Claims

Under Social Welfare legislation there is a legal onus on a person to apply to the Department for State Pension Transition if s/he believes they may have such an entitlement. Claim form SPC 1 should be completed in full i.e. all relevant questions answered, the form signed by the claimant and forwarded to the Department with relevant documentation as indicated below.

An acknowledgement showing claim number is issued on receipt of the claim. The claim reference is quoted and the claimant should quote same in any future contact with the Department regarding their pension claim.

A person may, depending on financial circumstances, claim Supplementary Welfare Allowance while awaiting a decision on pension entitlement (see separate guideline " Supplementary Welfare Allowance" for details of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme).

Late Claims:

Failure to claim pension at pension age may result in loss of pension payment.

From 5th April 2012, late claims for State Pension Transition may be backdated for a maximum period of 6 months.

Backdating of a late claim beyond 6 months will be considered only in circumstances where failure to claim arose as a result of:

  1. Incorrect information being supplied by the Department or
  2. The claimant's incapacity by illness or infirmity.

A claim to State Pension Transition should be made three months before reaching age 65, or, if retiring between age 65 and 66, three months before date of retirement. If a person worked in an EU country or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement, a claim should be made six months before reaching age 65 or date of retirement.

Claims received between 1 January 1997 and 5 April 2012:

Where a claim to pension is made late i.e. after the age of 65 or date of retirement, payment can be backdated up to 12 months from date of receipt of claim provided the relevant qualifying conditions are fulfilled. Further backdating of payment may be made on a proportional basis e.g. a claim made three years late would attract a full 12 months arrears of payment plus a further 47 weeks payment. There are also legislative provisions for payment of arrears where it is shown that

  • the Department gave wrong information
  • claimant was incapacitated
  • there was a 'force majeure'

and that any of the above caused the person to claim pension late. Payment of arrears may also be made in certain circumstances to alleviate hardship caused by current financial difficulties.(See SI 55 of 1998 for full details).

Claims received before 1 january 1997:

Payment may be backdated up to six months from date of receipt of claim. In addition, extra-statutory backdating of payment may be made on a proportional basis. Further extra-statutory backdating may be made where it is shown that

  • the Department gave wrong information
  • claimant was incapacitated
  • there was a 'force majeure'

and that any of the above caused the person to claim pension late. Payment of arrears may also be made in certain circumstances to alleviate hardship caused by current financial difficulties.

The same provisions apply to claims for any increase or allowance.

See also separate guideline " Claims and Late Claims" for fuller details on late claims, proportional payments, and circumstances in which payment of pension or allowances may be further backdated.

Documentation

The claimant is required under Social Welfare legislation to produce certificates, documents, information and evidence as required, including Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, dependant's birth certificate, proof of retirement, evidence of means or income of spouse, etc.

A Deciding Officer may not be in a position to make a decision on a claim until all requested documentation has been received in the Department.

It is an offence for a person to knowingly make a false or misleading statement or to provide documents or information which they know to be false in some respect for the purpose of obtaining or establishing entitlement to pension, or pension at a higher rate. A person found guilty of such an offence could be liable to a fine of €1,269.74 (€1,000) or a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months or both. Any overpayment of pension would also be repayable to the Department.

Examination of Claim

A claimant's insurance contribution record is inspected by a Deciding Officer to establish if the social insurance contribution qualifying conditions are satisfied. The Deciding Officer also checks that the claimant satisfies the retirement condition. If there is entitlement to pension, entitlement to any increases/allowances claimed is also examined.

Insurance contribution records are held by the Central Records Section of the Department. However modified rate social insurance records for periods prior to 1979 for persons employed by Government Departments and semi-State bodies are held by the employer. Foreign social insurance records are held by the Social Security Department in the relevant country.

Where a query arises or where additional information or clarification is needed regarding any aspect of a person's claim, further enquiries are made, usually by correspondence/phone contact with the claimant and/or former employer. Occasionally it may be necessary to ask a Social Welfare Inspector to contact the claimant or a former employer. This would generally arise where there are gaps in a claimant's insurance record.

Decisions

Claims are decided by Deciding Officers appointed by the Minister under Part 10, Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005. Deciding Officers are independent in the exercise of their functions in deciding on entitlement to pension. (See separate guideline on "Decision-Making" for fuller details)

A written notification of the decision is issued to the claimant. Where claims are disallowed or allowed at a rate other than the maximum, the claimant is given an explanation of the basis for the decision and also given the right of appeal.

Any decision of a Deciding Officer may be revised if the circumstances so warrant e.g. an increased pension may be awarded where additional contributions are added to the record following investigation.

(See separate guidelines on "Decision-Making" and "Revised Decisions" for fuller details)

Appeals

A person who is dissatisfied with the Deciding Officer's decision e.g. refused award of pension or refused an increase for a spouse, may appeal the decision. The appeal should be made by writing to the Chief Appeals Officer, Social Welfare Appeals Office, D'Olier House, Dublin 2, within 21 days of notification of the Deciding Officer's decision, stating the grounds of appeal.

When an appeal is made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, the grounds of appeal are put before the Deciding Officer so that the Deciding Officer may, if it is to the advantage of the claimant, revise the decision if s/he feels that this is necessary having regard to the facts or evidence put forward in the letter of appeal. The claimant will also have the right to appeal the revised decision of the Deciding Officer.
(See separate guideline on "Revised Decisions").

An Appeals Officer can decide on an appeal summarily or may deal with the case by way of an oral hearing.

A statement is prepared on the facts relied upon by the Deciding Officer in the making of a decision on entitlement to pension and on the extent to which the facts and contentions advanced by the appellant are admitted or disputed. This statement is put before the Chief Appeals Officer.

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Payment

Prior to 28 September 2006, if a person reaches the age of 65 on a day other than a Thursday then the pension is payable from the following Thursday i.e. the first Thursday following the date of reaching age 65. This also applied to increases in payment of pension.

From 28 September 2006, State Pension Transition is payable from the date a oerson reached age 65 or the da after they retire.

Payment Methods

Person living in the state have the option of having State Pension Transition paid by one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Fund Transfer - payable directly into a Bank, Building Society or An Post Savings Account. Payment in this way has a number of advantages - the payment is lodged to the account on the day of payment; the pension is more accessible through the use of electronic banking and you avoid delays and queuing.
  • Electronic Information Transfer - payable weekly using a Social Services card at a chosen post office.
  • Arrears: any arrears of payment due may be included in the normal method of payment or paid by cheque.

A person may request a change of payment method or change nominated Post Office, bank, etc. by notifying the Department in writing.

Persons living outside the State have the option of having State Pension Transition paid by one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Fund Transfer payable 1 week in advance to a Bank, Building Society or An Post Savings Account in the State.
  • Electronic Fund Transfer to an account outside the State, usually in the currency of the country of residence and payable one week in advance and three weeks in arrears into a relevant financial institution

It is open to a person to change nominated account or bank by notifying the Department in writing.

Duration of Payment

State Pension Transition is payable between the ages of 65 and 66 provided that the qualifying conditions for pension (i.e. that between age 65 and 66 the pensioner is retired from employment) and for any increase/allowance continue to be satisfied (provided the person is not disqualified for any reason e.g. imprisonment). Persons in receipt of State Pension Transition will automatically be paid State Pension Contributory from age 66 - there is no need to re-apply. A person does not have to be retired to get State Pension Contributory.

Transfer to State Pension Contributory

State Pension Contributory is payable at age 66. State Pension Transition and State Pension Contributory have the same rates of payment. For the majority of persons awarded State Pension Transition, whether at maximum or reduced rate, there is no need to apply for State Pension Contributory at age 66.

There are some circumstances where a pensioner is better off transferring to State Pension Contributory at age 66 - such as the following circumstances:

  • where a person is in receipt of a reduced rate State Pension Transition and inclusion of State Pension Transition credits will result in a higher yearly average of contributions paid/credited resulting in a higher rate of State Pension Contributory. Credited contributions are awarded by the Department to receipents of State Pension Transition for the date of pension award up to age 66.
  • where the pensioner has paid social insurance as a self-employed person. Social insurance paid by the self-employed (class S PRSI) is not reckonable for State Pension Transition (other than mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension Transition). Class S PRSI is however reckonable for State Pension Contributory and the addition of these contributions may increase the yearly average of contributions paid/credited and result in State Pension Contributory.
  • where the pensioner does not qualify for State Pension Transition based on full-rate Irish contributions but has sufficient full-rate Irish contributions to qualify for State Pension Contributory. A yearly average of 10 is sufficient to qualify for State Pension Contributory (reduced rate).
  • Persons who qualify for a mixed insurance or an EU pro-rata Pension may qualify for State Pension Contributory based on full-rate Irish contributions alone at a higher rate.

People in receipt of State Pension Transition who will be better off on State Pension Contributory at age 66 will be so advised by the Department.

Persons who are refused State Pension Transition but who may have an entitlement to State Pension Contributory at age 66 are advised by the Department.

See also separate guideline " Credited Contributions" re general provisions and importance of credits

After Death Benefits

Where a person receiving a pension dies or a person for whom they were receiving a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant increase dies, or a spouse in receipt of State Pension Transition, State Pension Contributory or State Pension Non-Contributory dies, payment of pension continues for a period of six weeks after death to the qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant or pensioner in certain circumstances. Payments are also made where a qualified child dies. See " Payment Related Issues" guideline for fuller details of the circumstances in which these payments are made.

Where State Pension Transition was in payment up to the date of death of a pensioner and included an increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner, Widow/er's Contributory Pension is automatically awarded to the spouse/ civil partner (this includes a husband or wife divorced by the pensioner, who has not re-married).

Note: this provision does not apply in mixed insurance pro-rata or EU/Bilateral Agreement pro-rata pension cases, and may also not apply in Pre 53 pension cases. In such cases the husband/wife should apply for Widow's Pension in the normal way

Payment of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is made following the cessation of the six weeks payment after death.

In cases where six weeks payment after death is not payable, the spouse/civil partner should apply for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension.

Bereavement Grant

Bereavement Grant is payable on the death of:

  • a person getting a State Pension Transition
  • a person in respect of whom a Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant or Qualified Child increase is in payment on State Pension Transition

See " Bereavement Grant" guideline for more detailed information.

Separate Payments

Pension is normally paid directly to the pensioner. However, payment of a proportion of State Pension Transition may be made to the qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant where it is likely that the amount of pension will not be used for the subsistence of the family unit or where the pensioner or qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant is in a hospital or residential home. The payment of pension may be divided equally where the couple are residing together or qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant increase and increase for a qualified child paid separately where the couple reside apart.

See separate guideline " Separate Payments" for further details.

Maintenance

Stop dates are inserted onto the Department's computerised payment system as follows:

  • to ensure that increase for a qualified child is discontinued when the child ceases to be a dependant i.e. at age 18 or if in full-time education, the date the child ceases full-time education or age 22, whichever is the earliest (if a child reaches the age of 22 during the school year, increase for a qualified child continues to be payable to the end of that school year)
  • person who is a qualified spouse/ civil parter/ cohabitant on his/her spouse's State Pension Transition is issued with a notification three months in advance of reaching age 66. The notification briefly sets out the qualifying conditions for State Pension Contributory and State Pension Non-Contributory and advises him/her of the option of applying.
Age Allowances:

Increase in qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant rate at age 66: This increase is included automatically from the qualified adult's 66th birthday.

Lost/Stolen book/cheque

See separate guideline " Payment Related Issues" re action to be taken when a book of payable orders or a cheque from the Department is lost or stolen. The Department, the Gardai and the Post Office of payment should be notified immediately of any such loss or theft.

Payment to an agent

A pensioner who is unable to cash their payable order book may nominate another person to collect the payment on their behalf.

See also separate guideline " Payment Related Issues" for fuller detail in relation to appointment of agent.

Change of Post Office/Bank, Method of Payment or change of address

The Department should be notified as soon as possible in writing. See "Payment Related Issues" guideline for more detail.

Illness/Hospital Stays

Arrangements may be made for payment of pension where a pensioner is too ill to cash payable orders or is detained in hospital. See "Payment Related Issues" guideline for more details.

Imprisonment

A person is disqualified from receiving State Pension Transition, including any increases in pension, for any period during which they are undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody. Similarly a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant  increase is not payable for any period during which the qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant  is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.

There are some exceptions to this disqualification i.e. increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant and increase for a qualified child may be paid if the pensioner is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody. See " Imprisonment" and "Payment-related issues" guidelines for more detail of circumstances in which pension payment or increases may be made.

See also separate guideline regarding " One-Parent Family Payment" which may be payable where a spouse is imprisoned and there are qualified children.

Absence from the State

Payment of pension will be made for periods outside the state, either on a temporary or permanent basis. The Department should be notified of any permanent absence from the state and any absence of more than a few weeks.
(see "Payment-related issues" guideline for fuller details on absence from the State).

Certification of ongoing entitlement

There is an onus on a pensioner to notify the Department of any changes in circumstances which may affect entitlement to pension or entitlement to any increases/allowances.

When a pension is awarded, the pensioner is issued with a list of circumstances that must be notified to the Department. The circumstances are as follows:

  • Change of address
  • engaging in insurable employment or insurable self-employment before age 66
  • Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant ceases to live with or be supported by pensioner
  • Qualified spouse civil partner/ cohabitant becomes entitled to a payment from the Department in his/her own right
  • Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant's income increases or decreases
  • Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant participates in a full-time FAS non-craft training course
  • Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant is detained in legal custody
  • Death of qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant
  • Qualified child ceases to live with or be supported by pensioner
  • Qualified child becomes entitled to a payment in his/her own right from the Department
  • Qualified child age 18 or over ceases full-time education
  • Qualified child is detained in legal custody
  • Death of a qualified child
  • Pensioner ceases to live alone

Note: the death of pensioner must also be notified immediately to the Department.

In addition, pensioners are notified on an ongoing basis of circumstances that must be notified to the Department, as follows:

Failure to notify the Department of any of the above events may result in overpayment of pension which may be recoverable from the pensioner by way of lump sum repayment or weekly deductions from pension.

See separate guideline " Overpayment Recovery" for more detail.

Review

A review is initiated when a pensioner notifies the Department of any change in his/her own or spouse's circumstances. This review may be carried out by way of visit by a Social Welfare Inspector or by direct correspondence or phone contact with the pensioner.

Periodic reviews are also initiated by the Department to confirm that the pension is correctly in payment and that the pensioner continues to fulfil the qualifying conditions for the receipt of pension.

Suspension/Revocation

Payment of pension or any increase or allowance on pension will be discontinued if the qualifying conditions are no longer satisfied e.g. pensioner between age 65 and 66 engages in insurable employment and is therefore no longer entitled to pension or pensioner no longer entitled to an increase for a qualified adult as spouse has taken up employment earning more than 280 a week.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the Deciding Officer may, having established the facts of the case, consider it necessary to write to the pensioner outlining the reasons why it is deemed that they no longer appear to satisfy the conditions for receipt of the pension, increase or allowance currently in payment. The pensioner will be given 21 days in which to comment. If new evidence or fresh information is advanced by the pensioner,the Deciding Officer will re-examine the case. If, however, no new information is advanced or that advanced is considered by the Deciding Officer to have no material bearing on the case, the Deciding Officer will make a decision revoking the pension, increase or allowance. There will be a right of appeal against this decision, as referred to already in this guideline.

Also, where initial enquiries with a pensioner, including written communication, fail to establish the facts as required payment of the increase or allowance may be suspended until the relevant information has been provided by the pensioner or a person acting on their behalf.

See also separate guideline "Decision-Making" and "Revised Decisions" in relation to principles of Natural Justice and revised decisions.

If an overpayment of pension has occurred it may be recoverable by the Department. See separate guideline " Overpayment Recovery" for more detail.

RETENTION/DESTRUCTION OF FILES

Documents in respect of an application for payment are retained and are not destroyed until the expiration of two complete calendar years after the year of death of the claimant. A random sample of 10% of files due to be so destroyed are retained for archival purposes in accordance with the National Archives Act.


Last modified:21/10/2013