Early retirement: People would give up a fifth of State pension if allowed payment at 60, survey finds

Welfare rules allow deferral of State pension in return for a higher payment but survey finds greater support for flexibility to take pension early

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys introduced the option to defer the State pension but a survey suggests there is more support to bring it forward albeit for a lower payment. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Over one in four Irish people would sacrifice over a fifth of their State old-age pension if they were able to get it earlier, according to a new survey.

Under current rules, people with a full PRSI record qualify for a State pension of €277.30 a week when they turn 66, giving them an annual income of €14,419.60.

However, from the start of this year, the Department of Social Protection has put in place an option for people to delay drawing down the State pension in return for a higher weekly payment at a later date.

This is largely seen as accommodating people who may not have paid enough social insurance (PRSI) to qualify for a full pension at 66 but it can also prove attractive to people who are living longer in better health and want to continue working, and to those in the higher tax bracket who expect to see their tax rate fall in future years.


Under the new system, based on current figures, a person would receive a weekly sum of €290.30 if they start drawing down the State pension at 67 instead of 66. That figure rises to €304.80 where the pension is not take until you are 68, €320.30 at 69 or €337.20 at age 70.

At the upper end, people would receive an extra €60 in their weekly State pension payment where they start to draw it down only at the age of 70.

A survey by insurance group Royal London Ireland has found that just 18 per cent would entertain the prospect of waiting until they were 70 for the higher payment.

It found that people were more interested in retiring early, with 26 per cent saying they would choose to take the State pension at 60, if it were allowed, even if this meant receiving €60 a week less than the current rate of €277.30.

On an annual basis, that would leave them €3,120 out of pocket with an annual State pension of €11,229.60 though, of course, they would be getting the money six years earlier than under the current rules.

Younger adults – those under the age of 25 – were least likely to avail of the chance to retire later while those most in favour of drawing down a lower pension earlier were aged between 35 and 44. There was no substantial difference between genders.

Overall, more than half of respondents were happy with the current arrangement, substantially higher than the 35 backing existing arrangements in a similar survey in 2022.

“While the recent changes have given greater flexibility around taking the pension later in life, it’s clear from the research that, if anything, people would rather have the option of accessing the State pension earlier,” said Mark Reilly, pension proposition lead at Royal London Ireland, adding that it was notable just how many people are satisfied with the status quo.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times