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Case Studies » Pensions » State Pension (Contributory) - from 2016 Annual Report (ref: 2016/30)

2016/30 State Pension (Contributory)

Oral hearing

Question at issue: Rate of pension awarded

Background: The appellant made a claim for State Pension (Contributory). An examination of her social insurance record indicated that she had a total of 694 Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions over the period 1970 to 2014, giving her a yearly average of 16 contributions. Accordingly, pension was awarded at a reduced rate, corresponding to a yearly average of 16 contributions. In an appeal made on her behalf, her accountant submitted that she had worked on the family farm although there had not been a formal partnership in place and that there might, therefore, be further contributions due to be applied to her social insurance record. An oral hearing was requested.

Oral hearing: The appellant, her husband and their accountant attended. The Appeals Officer noted that the appellant was seeking to have her social insurance record enhanced by the possible inclusion of contributions at the PRSI Class S (self-employed) rate. The Officer pointed out, however, that this was a question which would have to be addressed to the Scope Section in the Department of Social Protection as this is the area where decisions as to insurability are made. The Officer made reference also to the possibility that any alteration of the appellant’s social insurance record in recognition of her labour on the family farm could have consequences for the State Pension (Contributory) already in payment to her husband. Their accountant indicated that he grasped the implications of this. The Appeals Officer advised that should the appellant wish to be considered retrospectively as a self-employed person for PRSI purposes, she could seek a formal determination from Scope Section.

In concluding the hearing, a question was raised as to whether the appellant might qualify as a qualified adult with an increase payable on husband’s pension. However, the accountant indicated that she had a private pension which would put her income over the qualifying limit. A question was raised also concerning public sector employment.

Consideration: The Appeals Officer sought clarification subsequently as to whether the appellant had been in public sector employment and paying social insurance at the modified rate of PRSI. This applies to employees who had entered the public sector prior to 1995. The Officer was advised that the appellant had been paying contributions at the modified rate and noted that the consequence of this was that question of her self-employment during the same period was moot as she had been subject to the modified rate of PRSI and was excluded from social insurance as a self-employed person. It was noted that she had a yearly average of 16 contributions and was unlikely to be able to enhance this record. It was concluded that the decision was correct and that the manner in which the appellant’s entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory) had been calculated was in line with the provisions of social welfare legislation.

Outcome: Appeal disallowed.