State pension should be maintained at current age of 66, says Social Protection Committee

THE STATE PENSION should be maintained at its current age of 66, the Social Protection Committee has recommended.

It was confirmed in the publication of the Pensions Commission report last October that the statutory retirement age will increase by three months each year from 2028 until it reaches 67 in 2031.

One of the recommendations of the Pensions Commission report, which was submitted to Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys in September, was that the statutory retirement age should increase in quarterly increments to 67 between 2028 and 2031 .

The report also recommended gradually increasing it to 68 by 2039.

However, the Social Protection Committee today recommended maintaining the current retirement age of 66.

The Committee issued its report in response to the final report issued by the Pension Commission.

The report is also released in response to a request from Humphreys who had previously asked the Committee to review the report and provide feedback.

In total, the Committee made 13 recommendations in response to the report of the Pension Commission.

Along with maintaining the current retirement age, the Committee recommended that legislation be drafted to prohibit the use of mandatory retirement clauses in existing and new employment contracts.

It also recommended that changes to employer PRSI contribution rates be reviewed by the Welfare and Taxation Commission to determine the fairest way to increase the rates.

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The Commission recommended that the cap on credited contributions be eliminated given the importance of nurturing and caring work in our society.

Speaking at the launch of the report, the committee’s deputy chairman, Denis Naughten, said: “The state pension is an important part of social protection measures in Ireland. It is a recognition of the work done by people in society, whether in the context of employment, at home or as a family carer. It helps to prevent many state pension recipients from falling into poverty and enjoying a reasonable standard of living.

“However, payment of the state pension is dependent on the collection of PRSI receipts. As the Committee was informed, the PRSI base is expected to contract significantly over the next few decades, which will affect the funding available.

“The Committee strongly believes that the state pension should be protected and that the eligibility age should not be raised any further. The Committee had many discussions regarding the development of new funding mechanisms to ensure that the current retirement age is maintained.

The retirement age has become a major and rather unexpected political issue in the 2020 general election after Fianna Fáil promised to postpone the rise to 67.

Joel C. Hicks