The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has revealed that more than 2,500 over-65s per year have received jobseeker’s benefit since the state pension qualification age was raised to 66 in 2014.
However, the Department has no records for how many over-65s were denied benefit because they were not fully available for work.
In order to get jobseeker’s, applicants must be available for work, genuinely seeking work, and fully unemployed for four in seven days.
Susan Redmond from Clondalkin in Dublin was told she had to retire from her health sector job almost three years ago when she reached the age of 65.
It was the retirement age stipulated in her employment contract at a Dublin hospital.
Susan said she wanted to work for a further year, until she was 66, but she was told it was not possible to continue in the role on the same terms and conditions.
As a result, Ms Redmond said she had to claim jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance to cover the 12-month period before she reached the qualifying age of 66 for the State pension.
She said: “It was means-tested and I had to fill in a load of forms and give loads of information.”
During the period, she said she was sent to jobs fairs and she was told she had to show she was interested in finding work.
“If I wasn’t interested in work, there was no claim, they couldn’t process the claim,” she added.
Susan described the experience as “very degrading, after working for 20-odd years in the health service”.
She said she had to jump through hoops to prove she was seeking jobs, at a time when she expected to be receiving a pension.
“It’s a horrible, horrible feeling. You have to bend over backwards and you have to say that you are interested in work, even though you are 65 and retired,” she added.
“After paying your taxes, after paying your PRSI, that’s the way you are treated.”
Susan Redmond said she doesn’t agree with the plan to increase the pension age to 67, which she described as “disgraceful”.
Instead, she has called for the qualifying age to be reverted back to 65.
She said she feels for people who will be impacted by the plan to increase the pension age to 67, who will have to spend “two years doing the same thing that I had to do”.
However, Susan Redmond also said there should be a choice for workers in the future.
She said “anyone who comes to 65 years of age and feels that they can work on longer, they should be given the choice, not be made” retire.
Read more: Pension age increase continues to cause controversy