Money | Will you be entitled to a pension?

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As we ponder about retirement and finances, many of us take solace in knowing that we always have the state pension to keep us going. But will you be entitled to it, and what can you do to ensure you are?

While we all aspire and hope for a pot of money upon retirement, reality tells us that many people have to solely depend on the state pension in their later years.

Unfortunately, it is only when some women are nearing retirement that they realise they are not fully entitled to a full pension. This is primarily due to the fact that many women lose out due to timeout to have children or career breaks.

Typically, you need at least 520 paid contribution weeks to qualify for full pension payments. Therefore, if you missed out on a couple years work, you could be on a significantly reduced amount. To assess your contributions, you can request your record from the Department of Social Protection. Such forms can be complicated so you may need to ring the department for guidance on your contributions.

In the case of maternity leave, if you are not getting paid during maternity leave, then you be getting paying PRSI and so won’t be building up credits for your State pension. However, you may qualify for credited contributions, which are just like the PRSI contributions you pay while working.

If you do get maternity benefit, you get credits automatically but this ends after 26 weeks. If you take a further 16 weeks leave you need to get your employer to complete the application form for maternity leave credits when you return to work.

You also have to apply for credits when you are on parental leave. Parents can take 18 weeks of parental leave for each child up to the age of eight and they are entitled to a credit for each week of leave they take.

Unfortunately, we are all going to be working for longer thanks to the State’s move of pushing the pension age out.

If you retire before 2021, you will be entitled to the State pension at the age of 66, up from 65  previously. Thereafter, the qualifying age rises again, up to 67 from 2021, and 68 in 2028.

Many private employers are still encouraging its workforce to retire at 65, meaning that you may have three years of funding your living expenses through a private pension of by signing on for jobseeker’s allowance.