Pension system must be reformed immediately - Brady
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has welcomed comments made by Minister Varadkar today on the need for careful yet, real and urgent reform owing to unsustainability of the State pension. Deputy Brady highlighted that certain issues, such as the inability for many who retire at age 65 to access their pension, could be addressed immediately.
Deputy Brady said:
“I welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement that the current pension system is unsustainable and there is a real need to put a better system in place. While, I agree with the Minister in saying that reforming the pension system will take time, he mentions ten years, there are other issues within the system that he could deal with immediately.
“The increase in the retirement age to 66 years by the previous Government has left many people across the State in limbo when it comes to their State pension. Once people reach the age of 65 they are unable to access their pension and are forced onto social welfare to fill the gap until their 66th birthday.
“These are people, in many cases who have worked their whole lives, some having worked forty or fifty years and had never claimed benefits before. The choice for them at the end of their contract at 65 is to sign on for social welfare or survive the year without any income.
“This increase in retirement age was brought in quite subtly and it meant that many people were only aware of it on approaching retirement. This of course, was the workings of Fine Gael and the Labour Party.
“People at the age of 65 should not be forced on to social welfare and they should not have to wait an extra year to access a pension they have been paying into for many years.
“Under Fine Gael’s plans the pension age will increase to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 years in 2028 and further increases after that have not been ruled out. The pension system needs a major overhaul however; reforming it should not involve forcing 65 year olds on to social welfare. This does nothing for pension reform.
“This is an issue that the Minister could begin work on without delay. It was a bad decision made without properly examining the pension system as a whole which the Minister now intends to do over the next ten years.
“Sinn Féin would immediately reinstate the State Pension Transition (for 65 year olds now and the over 66s in 2021), for those who have an employment contract only until 65 or 66. This should be the starting point for the Minister.”