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The European voice for informal carers

Ireland introduces a new scheme to improve access to the state pension for long term family carers

On January 1st 2024, Ireland will introduce a new method of calculating a long-term carer’s entitlement to the State Pension (Contributory). The new ‘Long-Term Carer Contributions’ scheme will make it easier for long-term family carers to qualify for the State Pension (Contributory) when they reach pension age. Under the scheme, a long-term carer is someone who has cared for more than 20 years.

From the 1st January 2024:

  • Full-time carers caring for 20+ years will be given Long-Term Carer Contributions.
  • Long-Term Carer Contributions will be treated in the same way as paid contributions made through employment.
  • The care provided during these 20+ years will satisfy the normal requirement to have at least 520 paid contributions (10 years) in order to qualify for the State Pension (Contributory).

Important Points:

  • Caring periods do not have to be consecutive or for the same person – caring can be episodic and for different people.
  • Carers who are just short of 20 years of caring when they reach 66 years can delay receiving their pension until they are 70 which may help make up the shortfall in caring years. During the intervening years they may receive Carer’s Allowance.
  • The existing pension system has safety nets to protect carers caring for less than 20 years e.g. HomeCaring Periods and the Homemakers Scheme.

Register Caring Periods

In order to help identify carers who have been caring for more than 20 years, Ireland’s Department of Social Protection has launched a Family Carer Register allowing all full-time carers to register their caring role. A carer does not have to be a long-term carer in order to register. All full-time carers are strongly encouraged to register.

Example 1: Denise worked for 8 years in paid employment and has 416 paid contributions through work. Her first child was born with a disability and she gave up work to care for her. She will reach age 66 in 2024 having cared for 28 years.

Calculation for State Pension Contributory applying Long-Term Carer Contributions:

8 years paid contributions + 28 years of caring = 36 years

36 divided by 40 = .9 (90%).

Denise will receive at least 90% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (Contributory)

Note: An alternative calculation method is to add the total number of paid contributions from employment to the total number of caring weeks and divide by 2080 (40 years).

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