Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, to hire additional staff for the 86,000 pensioners who are currently anxiously waiting for a decision regarding their possible entitlement or an increase in their State Contributory Pension.
The Sinn Féin TD was commenting after information was released by the Department of Social Protection which revealed that less than 4,500 pension reviews, out of a possible 86,000, had been completed.
Deputy Seán Crowe said
“A review is being carried out to look at difficulties that have been highlighted in relation to the Contributory Pension that arose following changes that were introduced by the Fine Gael and Labour government in 2012.
“These drastic changes introduced by the then Labour leader and former Social Protection Minister, Joan Burton, resulted in many people of pensionable age, particularly women, being denied their entitlement to a full State Contributory Pension. Many of these changes are only now being felt as people reach pensionable age.
“I am of course glad that the review has finally begun but the pace of the review is unacceptable and it is clear that additional staff will be needed as many of the pensioners could have to wait up to two years before being assessed.
“The simplest way to address the anomalies would have been to reverse the pension changes introduced in 2012, but this clearly isn’t going to happen under this government.
“The Department of Social Protection have said that less than 4,500 reviews out of a possible 86,000 have been completed. That’s less than 4% of all those who are to be reviewed by the Department.
“This review needs to be fast tracked and all eligible pensioners must be urgently paid their entitlements. Any delay in carrying out the review will also be used as another excuse to delay the positive changes that are needed to overturn a system that impacts so negatively on women who may have had to leave employment over the marriage bar or to care for their children.
“I am calling on Minister Regina Doherty to assign and employ more staff to this review as the delay of possibly two years is not acceptable.”