THE NUMBER of 65-year-olds registered with Social Welfare Offices in Donegal and are in receipt of jobseeker’s payments has increased by fifty per cent since the Government increased the pension age by a year. Figures provided to the Donegal News from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that in 2014, the year the pension age increased, there was a total of 145 people aged 65 registered with Social Welfare Offices in the county that were in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Jobseeker’s Benefit. This has increased to 217 people in receipt of the payments in December 2018.
Since the State-funded pension payments were axed for those aged 65 to 66 the numbers turning to the dole, which is €45 a week lower than the State pension, has been steadily on the rise. The numbers on Jobseeker’s Allowance has risen in particular with the number of 65-year-olds registered in Donegal now 68 per cent higher than in 2014. In December of that year there were 96 people of 65 years claiming the payment which has jumped to 162 people in December 2018.
The number of over 65s on the dole is likely to soar further as the qualifying age for the state pension rises to 67 next year and 68 in 2028. The numbers signing on are likely to have increased for 2019 and these figures will be released by the CSO later this week.
Meanwhile, figures released this week by the CSO also show that more than a third of people with a pension have stopped paying into it. The data shows that only six out of ten workers have some sort of pension to supplement the State’s PRSI pension. A quarter of those surveyed as part of the CSO’s ‘Pension Coverage 2019’ said they chose not to join their employer’s pension scheme and a third with a personal pension had deferred payments for a period. The government is planning to launch an auto-enrolment pension scheme from 2022, in a bid to dramatically increase pension coverage.