A person in receipt of this payment will not be required to be available for full-time work.
A NEW SOCIAL welfare payment has been introduced for 65-year-olds who are no longer employed.
Plans for such a payment were announced in the Programme for Government after the pension age was raised to 66.
The trade union Siptu and the Labour party have criticised the payment as being too low and not addressing the issue of mandatory retirement at 65 years of age.
The rate of payment is €203 per week (the same rate as the Jobseeker’s Benefit) with an increase for dependants, if eligible. Eligibility for the payment is determined by a person’s PRSI contributions.
A person in receipt of this payment will not be required to be available for full-time work or genuinely seeking work and they will not be required to sign on the Live Register.
Recipients are exempt from participating in Activation unless they choose to engage and can also participate in a course of education while retaining their full payment entitlement.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Social Protection Minister Humphreys said: “For many people, due to their contract of employment, retiring at the age of 65 is their only option.
“These are people who have been working all their lives and, for many, finding new employment can be difficult.”
Humphreys said people will not have to “sign on” or go on the Live Register as “this is a specific payment targeted at people in the year leading up to when they reach pension age”.
The minister added that various other issues in relation to the State Pension”are being examined by the independent Commission on Pensions”, which is due to make recommendations to her department in the summer.
Applications can only be made when a person reaches 65 years of age. This payment will continue until the person reaches pension age provided they continue to meet the eligibility conditions.
To qualify for this payment a person must have fully ceased employment or self-employment, and be resident in Ireland. A person who takes up casual or part-time work while in receipt of the payment should notify the department and discontinue their claim.
The Department of Social Protection has identified people in receipt of the Jobseeker’s Benefit who are eligible for the new payment and “is in the process of advising them of the relaxation of conditions to their claim and of their automatic transfer to the scheme”, a statement noted.
While in receipt of the Benefit Payment for 65-Year-Olds, a person continues to get credited contributions on their social insurance record if they had an entitlement to them at the start of the claim.
A self-employed person (or a person who was previously self-employed) may be entitled to unemployment credits also.
This means that the person receiving this payment will not have a break in their social insurance record and the credits they receive are reckonable for other social welfare purposes such as the contributory State Pension.
Aside from the online application method, individuals can email [email protected] to request a paper application and it will be posted to them – however, this will take longer than applying online.
Reaction: A reduction of €45.30
Alone, the organisation that supports and empowers older people, has welcomed Benefit Payment for older people who are in limbo between their employment being ceased at 65 and reaching the retirement age of 66.
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Seán Moynihan, CEO of Alone said: “Alone are feeling hopeful to see some progress for plan of this payment to older people who are between two milestones in their life. €203 provides some form of transitional payment for those who must retire at 65, but we must stress that this is below what people who have worked their entire lives are entitled to, while also being below the poverty line.”
Age Action, an advocacy organisation for older people, said the government has “attempted and failed” to to address the issue of mandatory retirement clauses.
The group’s CEO, Paddy Connolly, said: “While it is welcome that people forced to retire at 65 because of mandatory retirement clauses don’t have to sign on the dole now to get a needed social welfare payment, they are still expected to make do with approximately €2300 per year less than the State pension.
“This piecemeal approach to pension reform continues to drive inequality experienced by older people in retirement.”
Siptu members have expressed their “deep disappointment” at the introduction of the new welfare payment for people forced to retire at 65.
According to Siptu researcher Michael Taft, the payment does not provide an adequate income for those forced to leave work at 65 and does not address the issue of mandatory retirement.
“While the Government has finally recognised the problems faced by people forced to retire at 65 and unable to access their pension for another year, this new benefit is deeply disappointing as it does not provide for an adequate income.”
Labour Social Protection spokesperson Seán Sherlock said that it would only apply to those who retired at age 65, and that it is €45.30 less per week than the old age pension, despite coalition parties committing to the full rate during last year’s election.
“In effect the government has introduced a cutback and has not tackled the issue at all. It has made matters worse in fact. People will be down €45.30 per week or over €2,000 a year.
“Fine Gael committed in the recent election to paying a transition payment at the same rate as the State Pension but the Minister has today failed to deliver. A year on to the day of the General Election they have backtracked from their commitment. This new payment will also only be available to those who retire at the age of 65.
“The Minister must clarify why the State Pension Transition payment will result in the loss of €45 euros because it is due to be paid at the same rate as Jobseekers Payment. This is not what they said they would do.”