Call for full State pension for those not working past 66

NUIG team find people want choice about working beyond State retirement age of 66

Irish Centre for Social Gerontology  at NUI Galway findings suggest raising the State pension age is beneficial for the healthy with rewarding jobs, but “punitive” for those in ill-health or in physically demanding jobs.

Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway findings suggest raising the State pension age is beneficial for the healthy with rewarding jobs, but “punitive” for those in ill-health or in physically demanding jobs.

 

Working past age 66 should be a choice and those who choose not to should be entitled to a full State pension, an expert working group has said.

The “preliminary recommendation” is one of seven from the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) at NUI Galway. It has been looking at the implications, particularly for women, of extending people’s working lives before they can collect the pension. The Gender, Older Workers and the Lifecourse (Gendowl) project is funded by the European Commission.

In Ireland eligibility for the State pension increased from 65 to 66 at the start of 2014, and will increase to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028.

Researchers looked at policies and previous research on gender, ageing, employment and pensions and also interviewed 120 workers, in the US and Ireland, across low-paid work, secure public sector employment and in professional careers.

Mandatory change to pension age, says the ICSG briefing paper published on Wednesday, amount to a “one-size-fits-all policy for all workers”.

It found the increase in the State pension age was opposed by most of the research participants across all sectors.

“They expressed the view that extending working life should be a choice . . . They felt that those in onerous jobs and those who started work early should be able to retire and receive the State pension by age 66 when many would already have worked for 40 to 50 years.

‘Punitive’ in ill-health

“A minority said they would like to continue to work but they felt this should be a choice and the State pension should not be withheld until age 67 or 68.”

The findings suggest, says the paper, that raising the State pension age is beneficial for those who are healthy and have rewarding jobs, but is experienced as a “punitive” measure for those in ill-health or in physically demanding jobs.

It also says raising the number of contributions to qualify for the full State contributory pension is “disadvantageous to women” who are more likely to have spent a portion of their lives working and caring in the home “as was the case for many women in this study”.

Since women are more heavily dependent on the State non-contributory pension, “it is crucial to maintain or raise the level of the State pension”.

Echoing a call made by both Age Action Ireland and the National Women’s Council of Ireland in recent statements, the paper says reducing or removing tax-credits for private pensions should be considered.

It says precarious work and pensions for older workers needs to be addressed, perhaps by strengthening anti-age discrimination legislation. It also suggests introduction of a “universal citizen’s income based on residency, calculated on at least 40 per cent of average industrial earnings”.