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Private pension options

Gerard Scully | Senior Information Officer | Age Action
Written by: Gerry Scully
Senior Information Officer
12/10/2017

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Private pensions are not mandatory, writes Gerry Scully, but given we all hope to one day collect the president’s bounty and to live well while waiting for that happy event private pensions are a necessity.

Pensions

Question

Dear Age Action,

I have recently changed employers and I am wondering about my private pension options. I have been told my new company has a defined contribution pension and I am wondering what this means.

Ronan from Waterford

Answer

Private pensions are not mandatory, writes Gerry Scully, but given we all hope to one day collect the president’s bounty and to live well while waiting for that happy event private pensions are a necessity.

While most employers now provide private pensions the heady days of Defined Benefit Schemes, that guaranteed a certain level of income, are gone and replaced by the more affordable (for the employer) Defined Contribution Schemes.

These offer certainty for how much an individual pays but no guarantee of the pension’s value. These may be offered in the form of individual funds in which you choose from a number of products depending on the level of risk versus return with which you are comfortable.

Alternatively, where there is a single fund managed by the company, through a pension broker and trustees, the value of one’s pension depends on the value of the contributions a person makes and for how long.

If a person, perhaps because they started their career late, wishes to make additional contributions occupational schemes often allow people to do so through AVC or Additional Voluntary Contributions. 

Tax relief

AVCs are very common in individually managed funds but some centrally managed funds do not offer the option. In the latter case an employee can take out a PRSA, or Personal Retirement Savings Account, and you can take your pension from one employer to another.

This is very useful in today’s labour force as the majority of people will have more than one employer in their career.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the Government provides generous tax relief on pension contributions to encourage people to save making investing in a personal pension an even better idea.

The world of private and occupational pensions is very complex. In my next few columns I will be explaining some of the terms and rules that apply to occupational pension. 

Don't forget you can contact the Age Action Information Team on 01 475 6989 or email helpline@ageaction.ie

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Top tips for staying cool

  • Keep out of the heat. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day – late morning to mid-afternoon. If you do go out, wear a hat and keep to the shade as much as possible. It’s very important to use sun screen of at least factor 15.
  • If you are travelling by car or public transport always take a bottle of water.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and limit activities like housework and gardening to the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
  • When inside, try to stay in the coolest parts of your home. Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun. Remember that lights generate heat. Keep windows shut while it’s cooler inside than out and open them when it gets hotter inside. If it’s safe, you could leave a window open at night when it’s cooler. Fans can help sweat evaporate but do not cool the air itself.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured cotton clothing.
  • Take cool baths or showers.
  • Splash your face with cold water or place a damp cloth or scarf on the back of your neck to help you cool off.
  • Drink lots of fluid – even if you’re not thirsty. Limit drinks with caffeine (like coffee and cola) and avoid alcohol as it can increase dehydration.
  • Eat normally but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruit as they contain a lot of water.

Dehydration and overheating

Extreme heat and humidity can cause you to dehydrate and your body to overheat. Watch out for certain signs: particularly for muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. If you have any of these, rest in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, pale skin, heavy sweating and a high temperature.

If you have any of these symptoms you must:

  • find a cool place and loosen tight clothes
  • drink plenty of water or fruit juice
  • sponge yourself with cold water or have a cool shower.

If you’re having difficulty, or your symptoms persist for several hours, seek medical advice. Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated - but it can also develop suddenly and without warning. The symptoms of heatstroke include hot and red skin, headaches, nausea, intense thirst, raised temperature, confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition.

So if you or someone else shows symptoms:

  • call 999 immediately or 112 if you are in the European Union (you can call 112 from a mobile for free). If you have a community or personal alarm press the button on your pendant to call for help.
  • while waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given above for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious.

Further information

If you live alone consider asking a relative or friend to visit or phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.

  • If you know a neighbour who lives alone, check they are ok.
  •  Check for weather forecasts and temperature warnings on TV and radio, and online at  https://www.met.ie/warnings
  • If you have breathing problems or a heart condition your symptoms might get worse when it’s very hot.
  • For further advice about heat-related illness contact your GP.

Summer Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Summer Raffle. We're so grateful to everyone who participated and who raised more than 18,000 euro to support older people in Ireland.

This year's winners were:

1st Prize winner €1,500

S Deegan, Dublin

2nd Prize winner €1,000

A Parks, Dublin

3rd Prize winner €500

M Dangerfield, Dublin

And the winner of our Sellers Prize was:

Sellers Prize €100

M Kane, Galway, €100

Thank you to all who supported the raffle, this is one of our biggest and most reliable fundraisers, so your support makes all the difference.

 


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Private pension options | Age Action

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