For Oral Answer on : 28/03/2023
Question Number(s): 89 Question Reference(s): 15127/23
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the situation regarding overpayments in respect of non-contributory pensions in circumstances where the amount of capital in the estate of a deceased person exceeds the allowed amount; when the current amount was decided; her plans, if any, to increase the amount allowed; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
State pension non-contributory is a means-tested payment for people aged 66 and over, habitually residing in the State, who do not qualify for a state pension contributory, or who only qualify for a reduced rate contributory pension based on their social insurance record.
People in receipt of the pension are notified of their obligation to inform my Department of any relevant changes in their circumstances, including increases in their means, within a period of three months, so their pension entitlement can be reviewed. On review, the rate of payment may increase or reduce. In cases where the means exceed the statutory limit, the payment is terminated. A failure to notify the Department of means changes can result in overpayments of pension being incurred which they, or their estate after their death, is obliged to repay.
Social welfare legislation provides that the personal representative of a deceased person, who at any time received a means-tested payment, is obliged to notify my Department of their intention to distribute the deceased’s estate and to provide a schedule of assets. The estate assets can not be distributed until they receive formal clearance from my Department.
If, on examination of the schedule of assets, it is found that not all of the deceased’s means, from any source, had been disclosed, or if the values of previously assessed means had changed, the Department will seek to recover any monies overpaid from the estate.
The formula for capital assessment is set out in Schedule 3 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended) and was introduced in 2005.
The various means tests structures operated by my Department are kept under regular review and a number of significant changes have been made in recent years. I have also committed to carrying out a broad review of means testing this year, which will include a review of how capital is assessed.
Any further changes to the means tests would need to be considered in a policy and budgetary context.