IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chair, Caroline Farrell has welcomed changes to the calculation of the Contributory State Pension proposed by Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty that better value the contribution of those who took time out of employment to care for families and older relatives.
Caroline Farrell said, “The proposals will address the some of the anomalies in the system. The new Home Caring credits, as well as the option for pensioners to avail of the total contribution approach when calculating entitlements, will improve the pension rate received for many retired women farmers.”
The Farm Family Chairprson continued that she knew many women farmers who have worked all their lives on the farm, caring for their families and older relatives, only to find that they were entitled to a reduced pension as a result of the yearly average approach to calculating payment rates. The situation for many more women worsened following the introduction of the additional bands in 2012.
The main changes, which will take effect from the 30th March 2018, are that Home Caring credits will be available for a period of 20 years for homemaking and caring duties, previously not available to homemakers pre-1994. There will also be an option to avail of a total contribution approach for those who reached pensionable age on or after the 1st September 2012.
“Overall the response from women farmers have been very positive to the proposals”, said Mrs. Farrell, “however there is disappointed that the losses incurred since 2012 would not be back-dated”
The Farm Family Chair concluded by saying that IFA would continue to work with the Minister to secure changes to the system to ensure that the situation facing low income farm families who availed of Farm Assist pre-2007 and were excluded from making contributions is addressed and that they are credited for these years.