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A Comprehensive Guide

Taking Control of Your Pension in Ireland

December 30, 2022

If you've ever thought about your life after employment, you likely know that planning for your retirement is essential to ensure that you have the financial security you need in your later years. One way to do this is by taking control of your pension and making informed decisions about how you want to save for the future. In this blog, we'll explore the various options available to you for saving for your retirement in Ireland and offer tips for making the most of your pension. Taking control of your pension in Ireland is an important step towards securing your financial future. Whether you're just starting out in your career or approaching retirement age, it's never too early or too late to start planning for your retirement. Read on as we explore some key strategies for taking control of your pension in Ireland, including the different types of pension plans available, how to choose the right one for you, and how to make the most of your savings.

Understanding Your Pension Options in Ireland

Pensions can be a complex topic to understand. Below we have outlined some of the key pension options available in Ireland. 

Personal Pension: A personal pension is a type of retirement savings plan that you can set up on your own, without the help of an employer. They are managed by pension investment and life assurance companies. These are particularly important for people who are self-employed or work for employers who don’t offer Occupational Pension plans. You can contribute to a personal pension through regular payments or lump sums, and you'll typically have control over what type of investments are made with your pension contributions. 

One of the most common types of personal pensions is a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA). A PRSA is a type of pension plan that is available to anyone who is not eligible for an occupational pension, including the self-employed, casual workers, and people who work part-time. It is a portable pension plan which can be set up between you and a pension provider in the form of an investment account. It allows individuals to build up savings for retirement by making regular contributions to the plan.

PRSAs are regulated by the Irish government and are required to meet certain standards, including having a minimum level of charges, offering a choice of investments, and providing a level of flexibility in terms of contributions and withdrawal options.

PRSAs offer several benefits, including the ability to make contributions on a flexible basis, the option to transfer the plan to a new employer, and the ability to take a tax-free lump sum at retirement.

Occupational Pension: An occupational pension, also known as company or employers’ pension, is a retirement savings plan that's sponsored by your employer. Your employer will typically contribute a certain percentage of your salary to the plan, and you may also have the option to contribute your own money.

State Pension: The state pension is the most basic form of pension in Ireland. It is a regular payment from the government to people who have reached the state pension age and have made enough contributions through their working life. The current state pension age in Ireland is 66.  The State pension age was due to rise to 67 from 1 January 2021 however, the government has deferred this change and a Pensions Commission was established to consider the change to the State pension age, among other issues such as sustainability and intergenerational fairness. To qualify for the state pension, you must have made at least 520 contributions (10 years) to the Irish social insurance system. You can make contributions through paid employment, self-employment, or by making voluntary contributions. The amount of state pension you receive will depend on your individual circumstances, such as your contributions and any other pensions you may have. The maximum amount of state pension you can receive is €248.30 per week (2022 rate), but the average payment is around €230 per week.

The maximum rate of State pension contributory is €253.30 regardless of whether you have been assessed using the Yearly Average Method, or the Aggregated Contribution Method. However, whereas the Yearly Average method has distinct rate bands for reduced rate awards, the Aggregated Contributions method will be a pro rata rate depending on the number of contributions you have, where those contributions are less than 2080 contributions.

The Department will always award the most favourable rate to you, having considered all the various calculations.

Yearly average contributions (SPC) Personal Weekly Rate Increase for Qualified Adult Aged under 66 Increase for Qualified Adult Aged 66 or over
48 or over €253.30 €168.70 €227.00
40-47 €248.30 €160.60 €215.70
30-39 €227.70 €152.80 €204.50
20-29 €215.70 €142.90 €192.50
15-19 €165.10 €110.00 €147.40
10-14 €101.20 €67.00 €91.30

Choosing the Right Pension Plan for You

With so many different pension options available, it can be tough to know which one is right for you. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a pension plan:

Contributions: One of the key factors to consider when choosing a pension plan is how much you'll be able to contribute. Personal pensions typically offer more flexibility in terms of how much you can contribute, but occupational pensions often offer employer contributions and other perks, like matching contributions.

Investment options: Another important factor to consider is the investment options offered by the pension plan. If you're comfortable taking on more risk in exchange for potentially higher returns, you may want to look for a plan with a wider range of investment options. If you're more risk-averse, a plan with more conservative options may be a better fit.

Fees: It's also important to consider the fees associated with each pension plan. Some plans may have higher management fees or other charges that can eat into your savings over time. Make sure to carefully review the fees before choosing a plan.

Maximising Your Pension Savings

Once you've chosen the right pension plan for you, it's important to take steps to maximise your savings. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Contribute as much as you can: One of the easiest ways to boost your retirement savings is to contribute as much as you can to your pension plan. Even small amounts can add up over time, so consider increasing your contributions as your income grows.

Invest wisely: Choosing the right investments is key to maximising your pension savings. Reaching out to the investment experts we have here at FitzGerald Flynn is a great way to to ensure your money is being invested correctly.

Take advantage of tax breaks: Many pension plans offer tax breaks, which can help to boost your savings even further. For example, personal pension contributions are tax-deductible, and you may be able to claim tax relief on contributions to an occupational pension.

An individual will get income tax relief on their pension contributions up to an annual limit related to their age and net relevant earnings subject to an earnings cap of €115,000

Age % of net relevant earnings
Under 30 15%
30-39 20%
40-49 25%
50-54 30%
55-59 35%
60 and over 40%

Certain sportspeople can claim income tax relief at 30% of their net relevant earnings irrespective of age. Income tax relief is given at the individual’s marginal rate. There is no relief against PRSI or USC.

Planning for Your Retirement

Planning for your retirement is an important part of taking control of your pension in Ireland. It's never too early to start thinking about what you want your retirement to look like, and what steps you need to take to get there. Here are a few things to consider:

Determine your retirement income needs: Before you can start planning for your retirement, you'll need to have a good idea of how much money you'll need to live on. Consider factors like your current expenses, any debts you'll need to pay off, and any special expenses you may have in retirement (like travel or healthcare).

Estimate your retirement income sources: Next, take a look at the income sources you'll have in retirement. This might include your state pension, any occupational pensions you're entitled to, and any other investments or savings you have.

Make a retirement budget: Once you have a good idea of your retirement income needs and sources, you can start to create a retirement budget. This will help you to see how much money you'll have to work with, and what expenses you'll need to cut back on in order to make your retirement savings last.

Consider your lifestyle in retirement: Finally, don't forget to think about what you want your retirement to look like. Will you want to travel, or will you prefer to stay closer to home? Will you need to continue working part-time, or will you have enough savings to retire completely? These are all important considerations to keep in mind as you plan for your retirement.


Taking control of your pension in Ireland is an important step towards securing your financial future. By understanding your pension options, choosing the right plan for you, and maximising your savings, you can ensure that you have the resources you need to live the retirement you've always dreamed of. Remember to start planning as early as possible and consider working with a financial advisor to help you navigate the process and make the most of your savings.

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