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August 8, 2023

What is Ireland’s Retirement Age? (Regulations, Pensions, Tips)

Find out the retirement age in Ireland and the factors affecting it. Also, explore Ireland’s retirement benefits and some tips to help you plan for retirement.

Aine Kavanagh

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Aine Kavanagh

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Ireland has no definitive retirement age, although most people retire around 66, which is when the State Pension kicks in (as of April 2024).

That said,  the Irish government is drafting legislation to standardise retirement ages in employment contracts with the State Pension age. This initiative aims to ensure consistency and fairness across sectors and is part of broader efforts to enhance the State Pension system and support an age-diverse workforce.

An employee’s retirement age depends on their employment contract, financial readiness, pension schemes, and other factors. 

Let’s learn more about Ireland’s retirement age, pensions, and planning for your retirement.  

Various Retirement Ages for Employees in Ireland 

We can categorise the retirement age in Ireland into five groups:

  • Mandatory retirement age

  • Statutory retirement age

  • Retirement age for self-employed workers 

  • Retirement age for public servants

  • Early retirement

Let’s take a closer look at each of these. 

1. Mandatory Retirement Age

Many employment contracts have a mandatory retirement age, typically 65. 

Some contracts may offer early retirement options starting from 60 (or even 55). They may even permit early retirement for health reasons.

The company’s policy dictates the mandatory retirement age. 

But look: 

The employer can set a mandatory retirement age only if it’s objectively justified according to Ireland’s Employment Equality Act 2015, which prevents unlawful discrimination. 

These justifications can be for health and safety reasons in a safety-critical job, intergenerational fairness for younger employees, etc. 

2. Statutory Retirement Age

Certain professions have a statutory retirement age, meaning the retirement age is legally defined in Ireland. 

For instance:

  • The statutory retirement age for Garda Síochána members is 62 (increased from 60 in 2023). Members who joined after 2004 can choose to retire at age 55.

  • Full-time Fire Service members must retire by age 55. Retained firefighters can extend to age 58, subject to a medical assessment and formal process. 

3. Retirement Age for Public Sector Workers

Public service workers' contractual retirement age depends on when they were recruited. 

Here's a breakdown of the different scenarios:

  • Recruited before 1 April 2004: If a public worker did not reach their compulsory retirement age of 65 before 26 December 2018, they could work until age 70 — subject to health and performance standards.

  • Between 1 April 2004 and 31 December 2012: They don’t have a compulsory retirement age.

  • After 1 January 2013: The minimum retirement age is 66, and the mandatory retirement age is 70 years, subject to suitability and health requirements.

4. Retirement Age for Self-Employed Workers

Self-employed individuals generally don’t have a standard retirement age, but specific guidelines may exist. 

For example, General Practitioners (GPs) can continue private practice after 72 years of age if they satisfy the 'fitness to practise' criteria set by the Medical Council.

5. Early Retirement

Early retirement usually refers to retiring before the age of 65.

This can occur from reaching mandatory retirement age or due to personal choice.

An employee can request the employer to work beyond their usual retirement age. The employer can grant/deny their request subject to the Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Longer Working) (Declaration) Order 2017 and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s guidelines on retirement and fixed-term contracts. 

Types of Income You Can Expect on Retirement in Ireland  

Here are the primary types of income you can expect in retirement:

1. State Pension (Contributory & Non-Contributory)

State Pension is an old-age income that Ireland’s Department of Social Protection provides. 

As of April 2024, the qualifying age for all State pensions (Contributory & Non-Contributory) is 66 (State Pension age). 

  • State Pension (Contributory): 

    • The Irish State Pension (Contributory) is a weekly payment based on an individual's PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance) record. 

    • Your entitlement to the State Pension (Contributory) is proportionate to the number of full-rate PRSI contributions made and your retirement date.

  • State Pension (Non-Contributory): 

    • The Non-Contributory State Pension is a means-tested payment provided to older people (aged 66 and above) who do not meet the eligibility requirements for a State Pension (Contributory). 

    • The eligibility and pension rate are determined by the individual's means and financial circumstances instead of the number of social insurance contributions. 

Learn more about Ireland’s State Pension (Contributory) and State Pension (Non-Contributory)

Did you know Ireland set the State Pension age to 66 in 2014? 

There were plans to increase it to 67 in 2021 and 68 by 2028. However, these plans were deferred; as of 2024, the pension age remains at 66. 

Nevertheless, the Irish government has introduced reforms to the State Pension system, allowing for a 'flexible' retirement system where individuals can choose to work until age 70 for a higher State Pension.

2. Occupational Pension Scheme

Occupational or workplace pension schemes are employer-sponsored retirement plans that provide consistent payment for people during retirement. 

Popular occupational pension schemes include defined benefit and defined contribution pensions.  

The pension entitlement depends on your salary and the number of years you worked for your employer. The pension returns of a defined contribution scheme also depend on how well the investments perform. 

Check out Irish Occupational Pension Schemes in depth. 

Are you an employer looking to set up an occupational pension? 

Use Kota

Kota is a digital pension app that lets you instantly enrol employees and manage pensions effortlessly. Our retirement schemes aim to maximise early returns while reducing risk as retirement approaches. 

3. Personal Pension

Personal pensions, such as Retirement Annuity Contracts (RAC) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA), are retirement savings accounts set up by individuals. These are typically called private pensions.

The rate of pension received depends on the individual's total contributions, investment performance, and annuity rates at retirement.

Learn more about these Private Pensions in Ireland

4. Social Welfare Benefits

Apart from the State Pension, retirees in Ireland may have access to various social welfare benefit payments based on their specific circumstances. 

These include:

  • Medical cards

  • Housing supports

  • Fuel allowance

  • Housing benefits package

  • Carer’s allowance

  • Living alone allowance

  • Back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance

Note: Retired individuals who fulfil PRSI requirements may be eligible for the Jobseeker’s allowance from age 65 to 66.  

5. Annuities

In Ireland, annuities are a popular choice for retirees seeking a steady and guaranteed income during their retirement.

One of the advantages of annuities offered by insurance companies is that you can turn a lump sum of your pension savings into a reliable income stream for a specified period.

How to Plan for Retirement in Ireland

Financial planning is crucial to enjoying a quality retirement.

To ensure you're well-prepared for this new phase of life, consider the following tips:

  • Set retirement goals: Decide at what age you would like to retire. Consider where you would like to live, the activities you want to engage in, and the experiences you wish to have during retirement. 

  • Assess current finances: Gather all your financial documents, calculate your net worth, and analyse your income sources and monthly expenses. This will help you figure out opportunities for saving and financial improvement.

  • Create a retirement budget: Begin by calculating and analysing your living costs like housing, healthcare, food, transportation, utilities, leisure activities, and other regular expenditures. Remember to account for inflation — the potential increase in the cost of living during your retirement years.

  • Take advantage of employer benefits: Workplace pensions boost your retirement savings, as employers typically match a percentage of your contributions. Some schemes may also provide a tax-free lump sum payment on retirement. 

Setting the Stage for Sustainable Golden Years

In Ireland, when you retire is generally up to you. 

To avoid legal hassles, double-check your employment contract for any mandatory retirement age or provisions for early retirement and talk to your employer for more clarity.   

However, age is only one aspect of retirement planning. You must also consider your pension, current financial situation, retirement goals, etc. 

Follow our tips and consult a certified financial advisor to prepare for your golden years in Ireland.    

Aine Kavanagh

Article written by

Aine Kavanagh

👋🏻 Hi I'm Aine, Head of Customer Success at Kota. Whether you're a Kota customer, a Kota user, or you're just browsing, I hope to help educate and empower those who want to know more about owning their own benefits, and building financial autonomy 📚

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