Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Defence (Deputy Willie O’Dea): Under the existing Defence Forces Pension Schemes, the minimum service required for an immediate pension in the case of NCOs and Privates is 21 years. The pension for 21 years’ service consists of a flat rate amount which varies according to rank, together with an addition in respect of military service allowance (MSA). These elements of pension are payable for the lifetime of the pensioner.
Where service exceeds 21 years, an additional increment at a flat rate is payable for each year of service in excess of 21 years up to a maximum of 31 years. A top-up of the MSA addition is also payable in the case of personnel with 31 or more years’ service. These extra payments cease to be payable when the pensioner reaches the qualifying age of 66 for a State Pension Contributory (formerly Old Age Contributory Pension) or becomes entitled at an earlier age to a State Pension Transition (formerly Social Welfare Retirement Pension). The maximum personal rate of either Social Welfare pension is currently €209.30 per week and is considerably greater than the maximum amount (currently €96.67 per week) by which the Defence Forces pension would fall to be reduced.
The person referred to served in the Defence Forces for 39 years and his Defence Forces pension included the additional increment for 31 years’ service and the MSA top-up. He reached the age of 66 years on 4 October 2007 and qualified for the State Pension Contributory. In accordance with the arrangements mentioned, these additional elements of his Defence Forces pension ceased to be payable from that date.
These arrangements are in accordance with the principle of integrating occupational pensions with Social Insurance benefits in the case of employees, such as NCOs and Privates, who are fully insured under the Social Welfare Acts. This principle applies right across the public service and, indeed, in many areas of the private sector. I should say, however, that the method of applying the integration principle in the case of retired NCOs and Privates is less severe than that applying in other areas of the public service.
The general issue of integration of occupational pensions in the public service was examined by the Commission on Public Service Pensions in its Final Report, published in January 2001. The Commission accepted that integration is a fundamental component in the public service pensions framework and was strongly of the view that it should be continued. It did not make any recommendations that would affect the current integration arrangements applicable to retired NCOs and Privates.
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