Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Questions (643)

John Brady

Question:

643. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the length of time jobseeker's payments will be paid to two years for those obliged to retire by contract at 65 years of age early in 2020 and who will not qualify for a pension until they are 67 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11626/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 provided that State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years from its current age of 66. The first increase to 67 years of age will be in 2021 and the second to 68 years of age in 2028. The purpose of these changes is to make the pension system more sustainable in the context of increasing life expectancy. This has significant implications for the future costs of State pension provision which are currently increasing by roughly €1 billion every 5 years.

There is no statutory retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers. While such a contract may have been entered into with a retirement date of 65, in the context of the previous State pension arrangements, there is no legal impediment to the employer and employee agreeing to increase the duration of employment for one or more years, if both parties wish to do so.

Jobseeker’s payments are paid to eligible jobseekers aged 18 to 66 years. Any person who retires before reaching State pension age may apply for either jobseeker’s benefit (JB), a social insurance contribution based income support or means tested jobseeker’s allowance (JA), subject to them satisfying the rules of the schemes. Recipients may continue to get a jobseeker’s payment if they find part-time or casual work but they must be unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7.

JB is normally paid for 9 months (234 days) for people with 260 or more PRSI contributions paid and for 6 months (156 days) for people with fewer than 260 PRSI contributions paid. Arrangements are in place to provide that jobseekers whose benefit expires in their 65th year can generally continue to be paid benefit up until pensionable age (66 years) provided they satisfy the necessary contribution conditions.

The jobseekers schemes are kept under review and any further changes, including entitlement beyond the 66th year, will be considered by Government having regard to the scope of the overall resources available for welfare improvements at that time.