Department provide online only forum for older people under State Pension Review - John Brady TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has welcomed the belated realisation by Minister Doherty to introduce paper application forms for older people unable to use or access the internet as part of the State Pension Review.
The Pension Review concerns pensioners who qualified for a reduced Contributory State Pension payment as a result of the 2012 changes made to the pension rate bands.
Teachta Brady said:
“Pensioners affected by the 2012 pension changes initially received a letter from the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection informing them that their pension rate was under review. Subsequently, they received another letter seeking additional information where gaps in their PRSI contribution record were identified.
“However, in these cases pensioners are being directed to go online in order to provide the necessary additional information. They are requested to do this within 28 days of receiving the letter.
“Initially, the online forum was the only method set up by the Department in order for additional information to be provided without the realisation that many older people are either unable to access the internet or able to use it.
“The Department are only now putting together paper application forms for those in this position. I am assured by the Department that those who have received a letter with the 28 day warning should not worry if they are unable to use the online forum.
"However, I am advised that anyone in that position must contact the Department themselves and request a paper form, which isn’t even ready yet.
“While I appreciate, from the Department’s perspective an online method of gathering information is easier; the ability of older people to use such a method should have taken priority.
“I would urge the Minister to issue the new paper applications where additional information has been sought instead of requesting those concerned to make phone calls to her Department to seek the paper form which isn’t even ready yet.”