Known as the ‘Green Forms’, these Old Age Pension Search forms (1908-1922) are a great resource that is not always used by descendants looking for proof of age of their ancestors or indeed proof that they lived in a particular Kerry location. As an added bonus, the names of the claimant’s father and mother’s maiden name are listed on these forms opening up an entire stream of new lines of research.
The Old Age Pensions Act 1908 introduced a non-contributory pension for eligible people aged 70 and over. It was implemented from January 1909 in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. To be eligible, applicants had to be 70 years old, to have an income of less than £31.10.00 per annum and to ‘be of good character’. During the first three months of 1909, 261,668 applications were made in Ireland. By 31 March 1910, 180,974 Irish pensions had been granted. The level of take-up from those eligible in Ireland was 98%, as opposed to 45% in England and Wales, demonstrating the need for such a measure due to widespread poverty. The full pension of 5 shillings per week for a single person, or 7 shillings per week for a married couple, was available to those with an income of less than £21.00.00 per annum.
Proof of age was an essential part of the process of application for a pension. Because civil registration of births did not begin in Ireland until 1864, applicants had no official documentation to prove their age. It was decided that searches of the 1841 and 1851 census returns, still in the Public Record Office at this time, could produce acceptable documentary evidence of a claimant’s age. The claimant had to provide parents’ names and their residence in March 1841/1851. They also had to state the age they believed themselves to have been in the appropriate year. These forms were sent to the Public Record Office where searches were carried out to prove eligibility. When a search could not find the claimant, the form was returned with ‘not found’ or ‘no trace’ written on it. Even then, you will get the claimant’s version of his family members’ names and location in 1841 or 1851. But many searches were successful, and these can often provide the names and ages of every person living in the claimant’s household at the time of the relevant census.
Although there is an option to fill in 13 different boxes on the Search Form, my advice is just to fill 2 of these – the Census date (1841 or 1851) and the county concerned – Kerry. It is more than likely that you will not have the precise information that the other boxes ask for – ‘Residence Location Barony’, ‘Residence Location Parish’, ‘Christian Name of Mother’ etc. You can run down through the index quickly to see if the Kerry ancestor that you are looking for, is included.
 National Archives of Ireland http://censussearchforms.nationalarchives.ie/search/cs/home.jsp