Galway TD Claire Kerrane has harshly criticised the new social welfare payment for older people not eligible for a pension yet as “nothing more than a name change” that leaves them out of pocket.
Minister Heather Humphreys announced this week that a new benefit payment is being introduced for people aged between 65 and 66.
The new payment has been introduced as a social welfare measure for 65 year olds, with the current age for a state pension at 66. However, the pension age is set to go up again to 67 this year, and then to 68 in 2027.
This has caused a heavy backlash as many people in the private sector are still forced to retire at 65, leaving them in the position of having to seek social welfare until they qualify for the state pension.
Under the new payment 65 year old can receive €203 a week, the same amount as Jobseekers, but are not required to be looking for work, and they do not have to sign on the Live Register.
Deputy Kerrane, Sinn Féin spokesperson for social protection said that the new payment does not address the “fundamental problem” of the issuing, accusing the government of “turning its back” on people who should be able to retire.
“People retiring at the age of 65 will still be worse off, as they will receive the same rate of Jobseekers,” the Roscommon-Galway TD said.
“This amounts to over €2,000 per year being taken from pensioners’ pockets. It is grossly unfair and frankly insulting when people have worked hard all their lives and paid into the system.”
“It is appalling that the government is trying to brand this as an improvement while they continue to fail people who want the option to retire.”
Deputy Kerrane said that the State Pension Transition, which offered a higher rate of pay but was abolished in 2014 when the pension age went up to 66, must be restored.
Along with the level of payments going to those who have retired from work, the system also needs to be examined so that “people who wish to continue working” have that choice Claire Kerrane added.
“This Government needs to get real about the financial reality facing many people who want to retire but are unable to do so because of this Government’s failure to provide supports that they should be entitled to.
Minister Heather Humphreys said in announcing this new payment that other issues with the state pensions system are being exam by an independent Commission on Pensions, which is due to make recommendations to her this summer.