State Pension age should remain at 66, Oireachtas committee recommends

TDs and Senators reject key findings of Pensions Commission report

The State Pension age should not rise beyond the age of 66, an Oireachtas committee examining the recommendations of the Pensions Commission has said.

Its view runs counter to the stance of the commission which argued the pension age should rise in steps to 67 by 2031 and then to 68 by 2039. The commission’s report is currently being assessed by Government, which is scheduled to deliver an implementation plan by next month.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands also said in its report, published on Wednesday, that mandatory retirement ages from work should be banned by law and that this law should be applied retrospectively to those already working in jobs requiring them to retire at a certain age.

These are two of the 13 recommendations the committee says it has made “with the aim of ensuring the sustainable provision of the State Pension into the future”.

Extra costs

However, several of its recommendations involve extra costs for the pension system and it offers no suggestion about funding beyond asking the separate Commission on Taxation and Welfare to examine taxes on wealth.

The committee report confirms it was informed by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) that, "in the absence of other policy changes, the pension age across the European Union (EU) would need to rise five years by 2030 to ensure that State pensions remain viable".

The State Pensions Commission report stated that the current State Pension is not sustainable in its current form and that changes are needed. It told the committee that the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund from which the State Pension is paid, could reach €13 billion in 2050 if no changes are implemented.

But the committee says a limit on credited PRSI contributions for State Pension purposes should be done away with. It also wants those working over the age of 66 to retain their current PRSI benefits. Both measures would increase pressure on the Social Insurance Fund, as would retention of the pension age at 66.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys had asked the committee to consider the State Pensions Commission report and provide its views.

Speaking at the launch of the report, committee cathaoirleach Denis Naughten said: "The State Pension is an important part of Ireland's social protection measures. It helps to prevent many of those in receipt of the State Pension from entering poverty and enjoying a reasonable standard of living."

“The committee is strongly of the view that the State Pension must be protected and that no further increases to the qualifying age should take place.”