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Women’s State Pension
- is it a can of worms?

WHILE the issue of women losing out on a portion of their State pensions because they gave up work to take care of children, or they had worked for a short period back in the ‘sixties, thus impacting their average contributions, has been simmering for a number of years, it was only after the utterances of Finance Minister Donoghue this week that the problem has gained new momentum.
While the Minister may have put an approximate figure of €280m or so on the likely cost of restoring “parity” for those women one wonders if he has allowed for the eventual cost to the state of introducing fairness for everybody who claims entitlement to a State Contributory Pension.
The changes introduced in 2012 made it more difficult for people to receive a full Contributory Pension since the Department, in calculating individual entitlement, added up the total number of PRSI Contributions made during their working life and divided it by the number of years between when they started working and when they became entitled to their pension.
An Age Action Report from earlier this year revealed 62% of the 36,000 people affected by this were women. This fact, in itself, shows that many men have been affected also, but many other people who have neglected to make PRSI contributions for one reason or another are also losing out. A Department Report from last November reveals the gender breakdown for those receiving a full pension as 35% female and 64% male. The balance receive varying amounts from 98% down to 40%.
To introduce a compensatory mechanism which will be fair to all, taking cognisance of all the anomalies there at present, may be quite a task, to meet gender equality and Constitutional requirements, not to mention EU Directives on such matters. The Attorney General will have a lot of “fun” scrutinising the Bill.
At the end of the day, it may be concluded that the provision of a non-contributory pension for all citizens is the best way forward.