Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has criticised the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection for her lack of engagement with pensioners who have queries about back payments due to them.
Last January Minister Doherty acceded to Fianna Fáil demands to reverse a punitive change introduced by the previous Fine Gael and Labour government, which resulted in women, who spent time out of the workplace to care for children or a loved one, being penalised in their pension entitlements.
While this government u-turn was welcomed, many pensioners have been left confused by the process.
Deputy Smyth explained, “The reversal of this measure was announced eight months ago but there has been radio silence from the Minister on it since. I have had a large number of calls to my office in recent weeks from women who were expecting their back payments to be made by now; however, the reality is that payments will not be made until January 2019 at the earliest.
“I appreciate that a timeline for the roll out of back payments was detailed when Minister Doherty first announced the decision to rectify this pension anomaly last January, but there have been no real updates since then. This has led to confusion and frustration among the women who are now expecting back payments from the Department.
“The fact of the matter is we are still waiting on legislation to enact these entitlements. Minister Doherty has also admitted that “an information technology system has to be developed in line with the legislation”, but she says this is at “a very advanced stage”.
“The Minister has assured me that her Department will be in contact with the people affected “once the legislation is enacted and the systems and processes are ready”. I will be continuing to raise this issue with Minister Doherty to ensure that these measures are implemented as soon as possible so that these payments can be made to pensioners without delay”.