Know Your Rights: preparing for retirement

I will be retiring from work in 2017 when I reach 65. What do I need to know about pensions and other benefits in retirement?

When you retire at age 65 you can claim Jobseeker’s Benefit, which is based on your Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI ) contributions. If you do not qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit, you can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is means-tested.

At age 66, you may be entitled to the State Pension (contributory ). If you do not have enough PRSI contributions, you can apply for a State Pension (non-contributory ), which is means-tested. You should apply for a State Pension at least three months in advance.

You may have contributed to an occupational pension scheme during your working life or you may have a personal pension arrangement. You need to contact the pension provider to find out exactly what benefits your pension gives you.

If you move from employment to retirement in the course of the year, you should get a PAYE Balancing Statement (P21 ) from your local tax office at the end of the year. This will trigger a refund if you have paid too much tax.

Your Jobseeker’s Benefit or State Pension and any occupational pension are taxable. However, the tax exemption limits are higher for people aged 65 or over and there are some extra tax credits.

At age 66, you will be exempt from paying PRSI. At age 70, you will pay a reduced Universal Social Charge if your annual income is €60,000 or less.

At age 66, you will also be eligible for a free travel pass and may be eligible for the Household Benefits Package, which consists of a free TV licence and an electricity or gas allowance.

For medical cards and GP visit cards, which are means tested, the income thresholds are higher for people aged 66 and over. If you are over 70 there is a different means test for the medical card and you can get a GP visit card without an income test.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Westmeath Citizens Information Service, which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Call (0761 ) 076610 or call into Athlone CIC, St Mary's Square, Athlone, for further details.

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from (0761 ) 074000.

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