Cllr. O’ Shea (Ind) has today (7th April 2010) welcomed the announcment by the newly appointed Minister for Social Protection Eamon O’ Cuiv, TD, to reverse the decision taken by his predecessor to withdraw farmer’s wives state pension payments.
In June 2008, the then Department of Social & Family Affairs announced that if a farmer’s wife could prove she was a true partner in the business, she would be entitled to a contributory state pension. From this announcement, contributory pensions were granted to women who truly had contributed to their farming business.
Cllr. O’ Shea said “However, for some reason late last year, the 2005 Social Welfare Consolidation Act was changed resulting in approximately 260 of these elderly women who had already been granted their pension having their payments stopped without notice. As if this wasn’t insult enough, the department also demanded some of these women to pay back what they’ve already been paid and until as such a time these moneys were paid back, the department was also withholding the PRSI money the women originally paid in so they could initially qualify”.
Welcoming the u-turn, Cllr. O’ Shea said “These women, some of which are in my own constituency, have experienced severe anxiety and stress in recent weeks as a result of the removal of their pensions. Their pensions that was stopped also prevented the guarantee of these elderly women being in receipt of other payments such as fuel allowance and discounts from phone and electricity bills which is an appalling way to treat such vunerable people”.
“I am glad the Minister has clarified the position and committed that all moneys owed to these women will be re-imbursed within four weeks. This was a departmental error and they have finally taken the full responsibility for this allowing these elderly women who have already been awarded a pension to retain that entitlement” concluded Cllr. O’ Shea.