Thursday, March 4, 2010

Retirement date blues

Yesterday the Government announced plans to move the state pension age from 65 to 68 over the next 18 years or so. From 2014 you will need to be 66, in 2021 the age will be 67 and only those over 68 will get the state pension form 2028 onwards. The logic behind this is that with increased life expectancy, it is unreasonable for the state to be paying out from age 65. Of course this is not likely to be the last change. There will more than likely be further increases to 69 and 70 any possibly beyond as life expectancy increases.

My main objection to this proposal is that it exacerbates the problem of youth unemployment. People at the top of the system tend to be on the highest wages due to experience, promotion etc. Companies benefit from these people retiring by reducing the wage bill. You replace someone on 100k with a two graduates on 30k and still save money. If senior staff are now required to keep working, fewer places will be available for young people to get a foot on the employment ladder.

From a personal perspective I'm not sure how this affects me. My contract forces my retirement date to be the 30th September following my 65th birthday. Until last year, the university had a private funded pension scheme into which all employees were paying. As part of the finance bills, all such schemes in the public service were closed and the assets transferred to NTMA, with a promise that the state would underwrite the liabilities of the scheme. This makes my occupational pension a state one, coordinated with the social welfare one, which I may not be allowed to draw until I reach 68. So where does that leave me from 30th September 2041 until 25th September 2044? Unemployed, but not drawing a pension?

I assume that issues like this will be resolved in the fullness of time but I am sure that there are going to be hundreds if not thousands of similar problems that will crop up. Issues relating to medical cards, bus passes, TV licenses, heating allowances will all have to be resolved.

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