The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has announced an interdepartmental group to examine issues surrounding the progressive raising of the retirement age.

Most employment contracts provide for retirement at 65.

However, since 2014, retirees cannot collect the state pension until 66. 

In 2021 the qualifying age will rise to 67, and by 2028 retirees will collect the state pension at 68.

During the intervening years, workers are obliged to register for unemployment benefit and seek work. 

Sources at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the group would examine whether people should be allowed to work longer in order to dovetail with their entitlement to the State pension.

It will also examine whether State-pension policy needed to be reformed to accommodate the new arrangements. 

The group has six months to deliver its report. 

Mr Howlin said the annual cost of the State pension was already rising by over €200m a year, due to the dramatic rise in the number of people over 65 - a trend that is set to continue in the decades ahead. 

He said a policy framework was needed to support longer working lives, and complement key pension reform decisions already taken to address the challenge both in the area of the State pension but also public-service pensions.

The group will be chaired by a senior official from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Ministers for Social Protection; Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Justice and Equality; Health; and Education and Skills will be invited to nominate senior level representatives from their Departments to participate in the group.