What should I do with the title deeds to our house?


Q&A:As the bank won’t take our title deeds back after withdrawal and my solicitor doesn’t provide storage, would you have any suggestions as to the best option for safe storage?

Mr A O’C, Email

It seems to me that you are very unlucky. Not only do you have an unhelpful solicitor, but also a lender with a particularly rigid view of its function.

Most people on settlement of their mortgage will lodge the deeds either with their solicitor or in a bank safe deposit box facility.

In my experience, one or the other has always provided this function. If not, it appears you will be relying on providing your own safe storage in your home. It’s not ideal, and I would suggest you pressure either your solicitor or your bank to provide an alternative. If you have an account with more than one bank, check the facilities available with each – you clearly don’t have to lodge the deeds with your mortgage lender once they have been vacated – ie settled.

Banking is a service, one for which we are likely to pay an increasing amount in the coming years. If your lender will not accommodate you, consider the alternatives; customers do still have some power.

No reason to pay PRSI for benefits you don’t need

I am 40 years old and have worked for the Health Service Executive full-time since June 1994 to date, with no break in service, and I pay PRSI Class A.

It has come to my attention while researching pension entitlements that I should be paying Class D PRSI.

I have been told that I have been paying Class A for so long I may have a choice between which Class of PRSI I can pay. I am unsure which to choose. I am particularly interested in the advantages/disadvantages in terms of retirement, and wonder if you could give me any advice re same.

Ms TC, Dublin

The rate of Pay Related Social Insurance you pay is critically important in determining the benefits to which you are entitled.

However, it is not a case of picking and choosing which one suits best. I am surprised that you have been sitting on the “wrong” rate for close to 20 years before anyone noticed.

There was a change in the public service in relation to PRSI, but this took place only in 1995. You say you were employed from June 1994, but is it possible that you were not in permanent employment initially.

If that were the case, and if you were made permanent in 1995, it might account for the confusion.

Essentially, most employed people pay social insurance at Rate A. Critically from your point of view, it includes all civil and public servants recruited from April 6th, 1995.

If you were employed in the public or civil service before that date, you come under one of Classes B, C D. The first relates to permanent pensionable civil servants, including registered doctors and dentists employed in the civil service, and gardaí.

Class C is restricted to Army officers and members of the Army nursing service. All other permanent and pensionable public service employees – other than those listed in Classes B C – come under Class D.

There are a clatter of other PRSI classes. E is for Church of Ireland ministers only. H relates to enlisted military personnel and non-commissioned officers.

Class J is a strange one. It covers the very low paid (people with gross earnings under €38 a week); employees over the age of 66; some Fás scheme participants insured only for occupational injuries benefit, and secondary employments of public/civil servants and military personnel – ie exam attendants, election presiding officers etc.

Finally, the self-employed are catered for in Class S.

The critical thing is the related benefits. On Class D, you are entitled to a widow’s contributory pension, a guardian’s contributory payment, occupational injuries benefit, carer’s benefit and the bereavement grant.

On Class A, you also get all of these. In addition, you get the State contributory pension. You also receive the State pension (transition), which is paid between the age of 65 and 66 to those who have retired, but which is being phased out in 2014.

While done through a different route, pension entitlements are calculated so a person on Class A or D will receive the same pension at completion of service at age 65.

Other benefits available on Class A include maternity benefit, invalidity benefit, treatment benefit, jobseeker’s benefit, illness benefit, health and safety benefit and adoptive benefit. As you can see, Class A gives you more cover than Class D.

And so it should – you’re paying considerably more for the privilege. On Class D you pay just 0.9 per cent of weekly income up to €1,443. Above that level, you move to 4 per cent.

On Class A, you’re paying 4 per cent week on everything above the first €127 earned every week.

In addition, your employer is paying 4.25 per cent on all your income up to €356 a week and 10.75 per cent on everything you earn above that on a weekly basis.

However, there is no reason you should be paying for benefits you don’t need.

If you should be on Class D, it will not affect your pension but will cost you less – albeit curbing your access to those additional benefits above.

If you want to challenge the class you are on, you should apply to the Scope section of the Department of Social Protection and a social welfare inspector will interview you and assess the case.

However, even if you are moved to Class D, you will only be able to claim a refund for the last four tax years.

This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice. Please send your questions to Q&A, c/o Dominic Coyle, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or to dcoyle@irishtimes.com. No personal correspondence will be entered into.