People turning 65 in 2020 may need to claim social welfare for two years
The age of eligibility for a state pension is set to increase by another year.
Workers turning 65 years of age this January have been warned that they are not eligible for a state pension until 2022 as the age of eligibility is set to increase from 66 to 67 in 2021.
An estimated 30,000 Irish workers are set to turn 65 in 2020 and may be forced to sign up for social welfare payments in order to bridge the gap between the traditional retirement age and the new age of eligibility for a state pension.
The IAPF (Irish Association of Pension Funds), Ireland’s pension saver representative body, has described the situation as "highly concerning and demeaning" for older members of the country's population.
“The fact that our government expects the 30,000 people who will turn 65 in 2020 to sign up for job seekers allowance for two years is nothing short of an insult," says IAPF CEO Jerry Moriarty.
"A group who will have contributed to both the Irish tax take and the Irish economy for over 40 years should not have to face this prospect after a lifetime of work."
The IAPF note that while there is some merit in the government's rationale to increase the state pension age, more realistic and workable solutions should be provided for workers who either voluntarily leave the workplace at 65 or who are unable to continue to work for health or other practical reasons.
“There is still time to rectify matters," Moriarty argues.
"Firstly, we would ask that the government look into how they might introduce the payment of a reduced pension for retirees who need or want to retire before the new state pension age.
"We are also advocating for some form of staged phasing in of the changes, to avoid the cliff edge, and to ensure that these pensioners do not lose out on a full year’s pension."
The IAPF has also suggested that the government is "devoid of fairness" in its current approach, saying that the age increase will force more people into the social welfare bracket for two years.
"If we want people to consider working longer than has been traditionally the case, we must approach this massive shift in social norms with flexibility and compassion," says Moriarty.
"It has to be remembered that not everyone in their mid to late 60s is in a position to work for longer."