Wednesday 20 November 2019

Workers facing the dole instead of pension at 65

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

Workers face claiming dole payments instead of pensions at the age of 65 because the retirement age is being raised.

The Government plans to increase the pension age in stages, taking it to 68 by 2028.

Anyone retiring in two years' time will have to wait until they are 66 to get a state pension, which amounts to around €12,000 a year.

Those who retire earlier will be entitled to get jobseekers' benefit in lieu of the state pension for a year, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said at an Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) pensions conference yesterday.

But that would mean people who have worked for decades face claiming benefits instead of a pension.

The move to raise the state pensions age to 66 by 2014 will affect approximately 14,000 workers.

At the moment a state transitory pension is paid to those who retire at 65, and the state contributory pension then kicks in from age 66. This transitory pension is being stopped, meaning that the retiree would have to take jobseekers' allowance until they hit 66.

General secretary of ICTU David Begg said the plans to change the state pension age should be postponed.

He said the changes had not been thought through properly, and said he had concerns about how it would work in practice.

"What do you answer to somebody who's left out of their job at age 65, and has a year or more to wait until they receive their pension? What do they do? What do they actually live on? So you have to sort that problem out," he said yesterday.

Mr Begg said a recent survey of employers showed the majority had no intention of changing the age of retirement.

He said there was also no answer for people working in trades such as scaffolders or nurses, where there was a physical issue of working until a later age.

Brendan McGinty, of business lobby group IBEC, called on the Government to show flexibility on the pension age changes. He said many employers would not be able to afford to fund people to make up for the loss of the state payment.

This would impact so-called integrated defined benefit pensions where the retirement income paid out is made up of the state pension and funds from the scheme.

"The simple reality is that employers and employees are not prepared for the situation facing them from 2014.

"Some employees still believe they are entitled to a state pension at 65, others may expect their employers to keep them in employment beyond 65," Mr McGinty said.

He said a Mercer survey indicated that up to 60pc of employers had not yet considered their response to the planned increase in the pension age.

Some 29pc of respondents indicated that they intended to retain the current contractual retirement age at which employment terminates. These figures were broadly consistent with feedback from IBEC members, Mr McGinty added.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News