Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
963. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the specific legal barrier that would prevent the use of section 202 to provide a payment of €350 to persons over 66 years of age who have lost their employment due to Covid-19 in view of her comments in Dáil Éireann on 20 May 2020. [10498/20]
969. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she has considered awarding the pandemic unemployment payment to those at work aged 66 years and over; if so, the estimated cost of extending the payment to cover such persons at work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10529/20]
1003. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address the anomaly of workers over 66 years of age being excluded from the scheme in the context of the review on Covid-19 payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11077/20]
1018. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will make provisions for those over 66 years of age who have been working and contributing up until the Covid-19 crisis to receive some form of pandemic unemployment payment in view of the fact they are now without a source of income. [11439/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 963, 969, 1003 and 1018 together.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is a time-limited support and is intended as a financial shock-absorber for people of working age, between 18 and up to 66 years, who become unemployed and whose income has collapsed due to the pandemic. The age range for entitlement to the pandemic unemployment payment is consistent with other jobseeker and social protection income supports paid to working age persons.
People aged 66 years and over are provided for within the Social Protection income support framework through the State Pension, either the contributory State pension or the non-contributory means tested pension, and a range of ancillary supports that are aligned to the particular circumstances of older people and are significantly more valuable than those generally available to the working age. People aged 66 or over do not pay any social insurance contributions.
A person in receipt of the State Contributory Pension, which is based on PRSI contributions, can retain all of their State pension as well as their employment income and retain that pension payment if they lose employment income, thus guaranteeing an income support. If a person is not in receipt of the maximum rate of State Pension Contributory, they may be eligible for an increased weekly rate of payment on the State non-contributory means tested pension depending on their circumstances.
Persons in receipt of the non-contributory or means-tested pension who are also in receipt of an employment income may have their pension payment increased if they lose that employment income or if it is reduced. Similarly if a person aged over 66 who did not previously qualify or make an application for a means-tested pension may qualify for a pension payment if their circumstances change .
The Department does not hold data on the number of persons aged 66 years and who have lost their employment as a result of the pandemic.
A person of any age who is experiencing financial hardship can access assistance under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme including Exceptional and Urgent Needs Payments where the need is demonstrated.
I trust this clarifies the position at this time.