Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne has called on the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection to extend the COVID-19 Unemployment Payment to workers over 66.

Deputy Browne said, “The COVID-19 Unemployment Payment is only available to workers aged between 18 and 66 who have lost their jobs as a result of the Coronavirus public health restrictions. However, the current eligibility restrictions penalise workers over the age of 66.

“People are choosing to continue working into their late 60s and early 70s because they are healthy, active and enjoy their job. Not everyone can afford to retire at 66 and it is precisely these people who are affected most by the limitations of this allowance.

“People over 66 can apply for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, but I don’t think there is any justification for excluding them from the other main income support that has been established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My office has received a lot of calls from people who are deeply distressed and frustrated that they are unable to apply for this scheme simply because of their age.

“I am urging Minister Regina Doherty to review the eligibility criteria for this income support and ensure that older workers are protected during this crisis”, he concluded.