I have called on the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to extend the Covid-19 payment to persons aged over 66.
In many instances, people in receipt of a reduced pension payment had an income through employment or they had their own small business enterprise. At present, they are not entitled to the Covid-19 Unemployment payment and that this should be reviewed. In many instances those people have been providing a worthwhile business in many small rural communities.
The Minister in her reply to Deputy Brendan Smith stated –
“The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is only payable to qualifying persons between the ages of 18 to 66. This age range is in line with all general Jobseeker’s schemes. Persons over 66 can apply for a State Pension. If you are in receipt of a Non-Contributory State Pension or are a Qualified Adult on your spouse’s pension, you should seek a review of your pension as you may be entitled to an adjustment.
People aged over 66, who are in receipt of a State Pension, who are employees and have lost employment, are eligible to be included in the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. The Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is a scheme which allows employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic. Employers will be refunded up to 70 percent of an employee’s wages – up to a level of €410. Employers can apply for this scheme through the Revenue Commissioners. We encourage employers to use this Scheme where possible, to maintain employment links between businesses and their employees.
People aged 66 or over do not pay social insurance contributions and can, if in receipt of the State Contributory Pension retain all of their State pension as well as their employment income and retain that pension payment if they lose employment income.
People in receipt of the non-contributory or means tested pension who are also in receipt of an employment income can have their pension payment increased if they lose that employment income or if that employment income is reduced. They should do this by applying for a review to the following address:
Pension Section, SPNC, DEASP, College Road, Sligo.
The review request should indicate where their employment was, when it ended and how much pay they were in receipt of. Any verification they might have of this can be enclosed but in current circumstance is not essential.
People in receipt of state pension payments also have automatic access to a range of other income supports not available to unemployed people – including the free fuel allowance, the living alone allowance, the household benefits package (gas/electricity), the telephone support allowance, free travel and the free TV licence.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment is an enhanced payment for jobseekers and eligibility is aligned to jobseeker payments. It is paid to people who, in most cases, have no other source of income.
Finally, any person who faces financial distress, including over 66s, as a result of a loss of employment income can apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
There are no plans to change the current arrangements for persons aged over 66” stated Minister Doherty in her reply to Deputy Brendan Smith.