Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (1194, 1210, 1211, 1248)

Niall Collins


1194. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason persons over 66 years of age laid off from work due to Covid-19 are not considered worthy or not deemed eligible for the €350 payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5549/20]

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Darragh O'Brien


1210. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment for those aged 66 years of age and over who are excluded from receiving it will be extended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5740/20]

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Cian O'Callaghan


1211. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the cut-off age of 66 for Covid-19 pandemic payments will be reconsidered (details supplied). [5778/20]

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Norma Foley


1248. Deputy Norma Foley asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons over 66 years of age will be included in the newly extended pandemic unemployment payment; and if not, if their current payment will be brought up to €350. [6271/20]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1194, 1210, 1211 and 1248 together.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced as a time-limited, emergency income support measure to meet the dramatic surge in unemployment as a consequence of the pandemic.  This emergency payment supports people of working age from 18 and up to 66 years old who became unemployed on or after the 6th March as a result of the pandemic and are not being paid by their employer.  This age range is consistent with other Social Protection income supports paid to working age persons.  The primary State income support in respect of people who are aged 66 years or over is the State Pension – either the contributory State pension or the non-contributory pension, which is means tested.

A person in receipt of Contributory State Pension can retain all of their pension as well as their employment income and retain that pension if they lose employment, thus guaranteeing an income support.  People in receipt of a reduced rate of non-contributory or means tested pension who are also in receipt of an employment income may have their pension payment increased if they lose that employment income or if it is reduced.

The weekly rate of the Covid-19 payment is €350 and is aligned with the jobseeker payment for a person with an adult dependant.  The rate of payment for a State Contributory pensioner in a two person household with an adult dependant who is over 66 years is €470.80, significantly higher than the temporary Covid-19 payment.  The maximum rate of payment for the non-contributory pension for a two person household is €393.60.

Recipients of State pension payments may, subject to satisfying eligibility conditions, have access to a range of supports not available to unemployed people aged under 66.  These include living alone increase, household benefits, telephone support allowance, free travel and free TV licence.  Additionally, as part of the Department’s response to the COVID-19 emergency, the Fuel Allowance season has been extended by four weeks. 

It should also be noted that there is no requirement for people aged over 66 to pay PRSI.  PRSI contributions are payable by employees and self-employed persons between the ages of 16 years and pensionable age which is 66 years.

It is important to note that where a person, of any age, is experiencing financial hardship they can apply for financial support Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. 

I trust this clarifies my position.