The new Programme for Government - Our Shared Future proposes an early retirement allowance or pension for 65 year olds, paid at the same rate as jobseeker's benefit without a requirement to sign on, partake in any activation measures or be available for and genuinely seeking work. The new payment will be introduced as early as possible for those who are retired from employment.
I made this an immediate priority on coming into the Department and my officials are currently considering the design of the scheme and assessing the necessary legislation, ICT system requirements and administrative processes required to support the introduction of this payment.
Regarding the current position, it is hoped that in most cases Irish workers will continue to work up to State pension age. Where this is not possible, there are specific measures which apply to someone claiming jobseeker's benefit from a date after their 65th birthday. Social welfare legislation states that jobseeker's payments may be made until a person reaches pensionable age. If a person aged 65 has paid at least 156 weeks of pay-related social insurance, PRSI, contributions, he or she will continue to receive jobseeker's benefit until he or she reaches State pension age, even when that benefit exhausts.
Ordinarily, those in receipt of a jobseeker's payment must engage with my Department's activation process. These conditions do not apply to people aged 62 and older. However, they can still avail voluntarily of an array of supports which are available from my Department if they wish to return to work, training or education.
Special arrangements are also in place so that people in this age group, that is, those aged 62 and older, only have to register with their Intreo office once a year and so do not need to sign on. Additionally, their payments will be paid directly into their bank accounts if they wish. I trust this clarifies the matter.