Saturday 21 October 2017

'If I had drawn the dole I'd now have a full entitlement' - Pensioner's frustration as payment is reduced

Mary Walsh Photo: Domnick Walsh
Mary Walsh Photo: Domnick Walsh

Charlie Weson

Mary Walsh gets a reduced State pension due to the rule change that came into effect five years ago and she is angry about the situation.

She worked outside her home for more than 20 years as well as taking time out to rear five children.

Her pension has been reduced by €35 a week due to the cut.

"If I had drawn the dole for all the years I was in the workforce, I would get a full pension, but I tried my best and I am losing out," she said.

Ms Walsh (67) and husband Maurice live in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry. She retired in 2015, having spent more than 20 years working in the civil service in Dublin and she also worked outside her home in Co Kerry. She got back into the workforce after being forced to give up work when she got married.

"I have paid more than 20 years of stamps. If I retired in 2011, I would have received the full pension less €5 a week, but because I retired in 2015, I am down €35 a week."

The situation where the qualifying criteria to get the full pension was changed after 2012 angers her. "I am fuming. I did my best," she said. "I worked for more than 20 years, reared my family and worked hard."

She feels the rule change is arbitrary. "Why am I different to people who retired a year or two before me? They get the full pension and their working life was exactly the same as mine," she said.

Ms Walsh was part of a delegation from the National Women's Council that lobbied TDs and ministers in Dublin just before the Budget. She was hoping the politicians would listen to them and there would be a reversal of the pension cut.

"I was hoping that there would be something done in the Budget. This affects a huge amount of people," she added.

Many men, who opted out of the workforce for a while to mind an incapacitated child or an ill parent, are also losing out from the pension rule shake-up.

Ms Walsh is now hoping that Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will change their minds and reverse the rule change that is affecting her pension.

Irish Independent

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