Murphy calls on Government to address gender inequality and its impact on pensions

Roscommon-Galway deputy, Eugene Murphy, says the Government must address gender based inequality, which sees thousands of women lose out on full State Pension entitlements.

The Fianna Fáil TD says this situation arises for women who took time out of the workforce to raise their families, to look after an ill parent, or to be a homemaker.

He said some 35,000 people are being discriminated against and are not receiving their full pension. Of that figure, Deputy Murphy said 23,000 are women.

“Many of my constituents have raised this unjust situation,” he commented. “In recognition of this, Fianna Fáil introduced the Home-Maker Scheme in 1994, which makes qualification for the contributory State pension easier for those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. The allows up to 20 years spent caring for children under 12 years of age or incapacitated people to be disregarded when a person’s social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes.

“However, a problem arises for people who took time out of the workforce prior to 1994, as the number of years over which contributions are averaged is greater, reducing the average number of weeks worked, and greatly reducing their entitlement. Consideration must be given to or an analysis undertaken on the feasibility of amending the calculation method for Contributory Pensions. The system already disregards time spent working in the home since April 1994 for the purposes of calculating yearly average contributions.”

Deputy Murphy said the Government should now explore the feasibility of backdating this further. Similarly, consideration should be given to allowing actual past payments to be disregarded, thereby altering the date at which the individual is considered to have entered the permanent workforce, he said.

“Consideration should be given to allow individuals to disregard up to 200 pre-1994 A1 PRSI payments for the purpose of calculating their date of entry to the workforce,” he continued. “Minister Donohoe’s interview on radio this week following the Budget when he described this pension anomaly as ‘bonkers’ and ‘unbelievable’ is a response which simply beggars belief, as he offered no solution to these people who are caught in pension limbo land. The Government must act now to address this issue.”

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