Business Pensions

Friday 9 December 2016

Challenge likely to move to raise the State pension age

Published 13/03/2016 | 02:30

By 2028, the qualification age for the State pension is set to rise to age 68
By 2028, the qualification age for the State pension is set to rise to age 68

The last few years have delivered so many financial blows to ordinary people that the raising of the age at which you qualify for the State pension has probably slipped the minds of many.

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But the cruel reality is that the age for qualifying for the State pension has gone up and is due to rise further.

At the start of 2014, the traditional State pension paid to people from the age of 65 ceased to exist after the age was raised to 66. By 2028, the qualification age for the State pension is set to rise to age 68.

Add to this the outrageous theft of pension money from the levy on the assets of private-sector workers, and you have a distasteful cocktail that will leave ordinary people with a sour taste in their mouth and much diminished retirement incomes.

The pensions levy theft is particularly unfair as the average pension pot in the private sector is tiny anyway. This means the €2.5bn collectively taken away from those in the private sector savvy enough to provide for themselves was egregious.

The levy represents a permanent reduction in the pension income of those impacted, unlike the levy in the public sector, which is essentially a pay cut and does not impact on the amount paid in retirement. Given that, the earlier decision of the last Government to raise the age at which all workers - private and public - qualify for the State pension that they contribute to through their pay-related social insurance (PRSI) is doubly unfair.

It is like you are running a race - but half-way through you are told that the finishing line has been moved further up the road. So keep running, is the message.

However, the good news is that the decision to raise the State pension age has been cast into doubt after a Dutch court found against a similar move there.

Stephen Gillick, a partner with law firm Mason Hayes & Curran, said it was open to those affected by the change to take a similar case here.

The case concerned a 60-year-old widow who was in poor health. The woman was being paid a widow's pension but would cease to be entitled to payment when she reached 65. As the Dutch state pension was not payable until she reached 67, the widow would be left with a two-year income gap.

The Dutch court of first instance found in her favour.

A successful challenge here could limit the State's ability to change the pension age, and force a reversal of the controversial move. Mr Gillick said he was surprised there had not already been a challenge here.

Given the decision in the Dutch case, it is now highly likely there will be a legal challenge here.

Sunday Indo Business

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