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Many pensioners still denied top-ups over anomaly

A GOVERNMENT Minister called the anomaly “bonkers”. However, it seems many of those who thought they should be entitled to an increase under a review of pensions are not going to get it . . . .and the numbers being told they do not qualify for top-ups are growing.
The anomaly had left pensioners, particularly women, penalised by €35 a week because they have taken time out of the workforce at some stage in their career. The 2012 changes to pension bands led to older people losing out on full contributory pensions because they left jobs to raise families or become carers.
It also affected women who were subjected to the State's marriage bar - which was only scrapped in 1973.
The Government has been accused of failing to resolve the situation that has left tens of thousands of people with reduced pensions. Apparently, just 15 per cent of the 11,226 pensioners whose cases were reviewed over the past two weeks will gain top-ups according to a report in the Irish Independent.
The Government's approach has been branded a "failure" by Orla O'Connor, director of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI).
She said the numbers qualifying for top-ups showed the Government was only "tinkering" with the system. Its efforts were "not making that significant difference to women in terms of being eligible for pensions," she said. Half of pensioners whose cases had been reviewed got no additional payment as a result. Apparently, this figure has now risen to 57 per cent.
Amidst it all Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty was forced to defend the approach taken. A spokesperson for the Minister said the review is a “comprehensive and incredibly fair response to an ‘historic unfairness’
The anomaly affects people born after September 1, 1946. A home-caring credit was introduced to help those who were not making pension contributions for up to 20 years to get pension increases - but many were out of the workforce for longer than that.
As of May 23rd there were 47,753 cases reviewed and just under half of those got some level of pension increase.
The Department of Social Protection numbers show that of the 58,979 review decisions that have been made, 33,738 have received no increases, a rate of just over 57pc.
A spokesperson for the Minister said: "Nobody has lost out as a result of this process and thousands have benefited."