Friday 21 October 2016

Retirees 'in limbo' until age 66

Published 07/12/2015 | 02:30

Fianna Fáil Welfare spokesman Willie O’Dea
Fianna Fáil Welfare spokesman Willie O’Dea

The Government is facing an election backlash from people forced to retire aged 65 - but who aren't eligible for a pension until they reach 66 years of age.

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People in this category can apply for dole - but they must "be available for work and actively seeking employment".

In January 2014, the Government abolished the so-called "transitional pension", which saved the Exchequer €65m this year, as part of moves to curb runaway pension costs estimated to be growing by €1bn every five years as people live longer.

Fianna Fáil's welfare spokesman Willie O'Dea accused the Government of adopting "a confused and misleading approach to very human problem."

The Limerick TD said the Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton had tried to argue that the problem did not exist - but yesterday he revealed a letter from Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, which acknowledged the difficulty and promised to set up an inter-departmental body to study the issue.

"This is a crazy situation and the Government does not know what it is doing about it. One minister says the problem does not exist - a second minister says he will set up an inter-departmental body," Mr O'Dea said.

Mr O'Dea said the Government rejected his efforts to change the law because it would be too expensive.

He added: "This is an absurd situation where, after years of employment, people are forced to endure a gap year before the State will step in with a pension entitlement. People caught in this situation are considered too old to work by their previous employer but too young to claim the state pension."

The pension age will increase to 67 from 2021 and then to 68 from 2028.

Irish Independent

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