Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (366)

Eoghan Murphy


366. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she is considering waiving the requirement to be available to work in respect of jobseeker's benefit for persons who are obliged to retire at the age of 65 but who are not entitled to the State pension until the age of 66; if she is considering increasing the payment; and if she is considering an alternative method of payment (details supplied). [30283/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare and Pensions Act, 2011 provides that state pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This will begin in 2014 with the abolition of the state pension (transition) thereby standardising State pension age for all at 66 years. The State pension age will be further increased to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 years in 2028. These changes apply to all fully insured employees.

The main social welfare payment available to those who leave employment before pension age is jobseeker’s benefit. It is a fundamental condition of this scheme that a recipient must be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work. Persons who qualify for a jobseeker’s benefit who are aged between 65 and 66 years are generally entitled to receive payment up to the date on which they reach pensionable age (66 years).

Jobseeker’s benefit is paid weekly in arrears generally by way of Postal Draft collected in a post office. Any changes to rates of jobseeker’s benefit would be for Government to consider in a budgetary context.

It should be noted that until the 1970s, the standard age for receipt of State pension was 70 years of age. Increasing longevity and significant improvements in health status mean that people can work longer to support themselves in retirement. Raising State pension age and the abolition of the State pension (transition) is a necessary step in ensuring the sustainability of pensions into the future. The recently published OECD report on the Review of the Irish Pension System confirms that reforms are necessary if we are to continue to put pension provision on a sustainable footing given the changes in demographics, the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund, and the difficult fiscal situation.