Sunday 22 September 2019

Revealed: Politicians will still qualify for pensions at 65... while most workers wait until they're 68

Regina Doherty Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Regina Doherty Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Anne-Marie Walsh

Politicians will get their pensions at 65 while most workers will have to wait until they are 68.

Ministers who are raising the State pension age by three years will be able to retire on their own big pensions much earlier.

They voted for legislation that pushes the qualifying age for the State pension up to 68, but have insulated themselves against this cut-off point.

These TDs and ministers who began their service before 2013 are still eligible to retire and draw their pensions at 65, according to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

They include Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Health Minister Simon Harris and Employment Minister Regina Doherty.

However, newer faces at Leinster House, plus recent recruits to the public sector, must wait until they are 66 to qualify for their pensions. The rules changed for people who joined in 2013 and later.

Under the 'single pension scheme', their retirement age is directly linked to the State pension age.

Politicians need just two years' service before they qualify for a fast-track pension that is based on up to half their final salary, plus a lump sum.

But the vast majority of private sector workers do not have anything but the State pension to rely upon.

They also have to wait until they are 66 to claim the maximum €243 a week payment, and this age is set to rise again.

In three years' time, they will not be able to receive it until they are 67 and will have to have made 40 years' of contributions to get the full amount.

In 2028, they will have to be 68 before they get a cent and there is potential for the qualifying age to rise even more from 2035 under Government plans.

Many workers will have to keep working to get by or rely on dole payments that are lower than the pension rate.

The maximum State pension is worth in the region of €12,000 a year. This compares with an average politician's pension that stood at over €29,000 two years ago, with lump sums averaging more than €93,000.

Three-quarters of the private sector will rely on the State pension in old age.

Successive governments have promised a new scheme for them but the first members will not be enrolled until 2022.

Irish Independent

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