Case Studies » Pensions » State Pension (Contributory) - from 2015 Annual Report (ref: 2015/19)
Background: The appellant applied for State Pension (Contributory) and her claim was disallowed as she did not have the required 520 paid contributions prior to her 66th birthday. The Deciding Officer noted that she had 449 paid contributions. The appellant challenged the level of contributions recorded and the Department discovered additional contributions had been paid in the years 1979 and 1980. Her social insurance record was updated to show 505 paid contributions and the appellant’s claim was re-examined. However, as she had not achieved the required minimum of 520 contributions, the application was rejected again. In her appeal submission, the appellant asserted that she had worked full-time for a [named] employer from 1969 to 1980, and she disputed that the contributions shown on her record should vary from year to year. In addition, she stated that she had also worked in 1982.
Oral hearing: The question at issue was outlined and the appellant began by referring to her contribution history records. She asked the Appeals Officer to note that two records had been issued to her; initially, she had been notified that she had only 449 paid contributions but following her challenge, her record was updated to 505 contributions. She submitted for inspection various historical letters regarding her employment.
The appellant referred to a letter from the [named] employer, dated from 1980, which certified that she had worked from 5 January 1970 to 4 January 1980. She was adamant that she had worked without a break in that ten year period and could not explain why a full 52 contributions had not been returned every year.
The appellant reported that her first child was born in 1980 and that she had taken maternity leave. She estimated that she would have resumed work in April of that year. She advised that she had resigned from her employment in 1980 and pointed out that the letter from her employer confirmed that she was due four days holidays. She submitted that this indicated that she had had at least three months service in that year.
The appellant recalled being told by the Department some years ago that there had been a mix-up in her record. She said she was at a loss as to how credits were awarded because, as far as she could recall, she had not claimed any social welfare payment. In conclusion, she advised that she had done part-time work for a short period in 1982 but had eventually left her employment because of child-care issues.
Consideration: The Appeals Officer observed that there had been inconsistencies in the returning of social insurance contributions generally during the period 1979-1981, with the introduction of the Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI) system in April 1979 in the midst of a postal strike. He recalled that employers had encountered problems in the acquisition of social insurance stamps or refill franking machines. He suggested that this must be borne in mind where a contributor’s record is incomplete in these particular years. He noted that the appellant’s record, while initially incomplete, had been rectified in respect of those years.
The Appeals Officer noted that prior to the introduction of the PRSI system, social insurance records were returned manually in January of each year in the case of men and each July for women. Accordingly, the women’s social insurance year ran from 3 July 1978 to 5 April 1979, a total of 40 weeks. He noted that the appellant’s record for 1978/79 had been amended to show 40 contributions and observed that this was correct. He noted that the 1979/80 year showed another 40 contributions, and that the appellant had provided evidence to indicate that she had resigned from her employment on 4 January 1980 so that these 40 contributions were also correct.
The Appeals Officer noted that the appellant had submitted evidence that she had resumed work on a part-time basis and a letter issued by her employer in September 1980 confirmed that she had accumulated 4 days holidays in her service at that point in time. He noted that she would have had to work for over 3 months to accumulate 4 days leave entitlement so that the 16 contributions recorded in 1980/81 were probably correct. He observed, however, that what was not recorded was the appellant’s stated employment in 1982. He noted her insistence that she had worked after her second child was born in 1982 although, unfortunately she had been unable to provide any specific details as to dates or duration.
In examining the appellant’s record for 1970/71, the Appeals Officer noted that it showed just 37 contributions. This was into her second years’ service with the [named] employer and she had been adamant at oral hearing that she had not been absent for 15 weeks. On closer examination of the record sheet and the notation used, the Appeals Officer discovered that what had been recorded as 37 should in fact have been 51 (+ 1), giving the appellant a full year’s contributions and adding an additional 15 contributions to her record. Accordingly, she had the required 520 contributions.
Outcome: Appeal allowed