Dáil Éireann - Volume 587 - 15 June, 2004

Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.

  77. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when the requirement whereby a person reaching 65 must first retire for a period before being able to work again and retain a pension will be removed, as promised in the Joint Programme. [17505/04]

  Mary Coughlan: In addition to satisfying the relevant contribution conditions, those applying for retirement pension at age 65 must be retired from employment or self employment. Retirement is defined as not having earnings from employment of more than €38 per week or earnings from self-employment of more than €3,174 per annum. There is no retirement condition associated with old age contributory or non-contributory pensions which are both payable at 66 years of age. The retirement pension was introduced in 1970 and was intended to bridge the gap between retirement at 65 and the pension age for social welfare purposes, which at the time was 70 years of age. The qualifying age for old age pension was subsequently reduced over time to 66 years of age but the requirement to retire before receiving a retirement pension has remained in place.

It is important in the context of the demographic changes our society will face in the years ahead that we should encourage and facilitate people who wish to extend their working lives to remain active.

The Government is committed, as part of the programme for Government, to removing the requirement to retire at 65 in order to receive a retirement pension. Progress in this regard will be made as soon as possible, having regard to the availability of resources and other priorities.