An allowance of €300 to the elderly introduced last year will be payable to those aged 78 upwards, widening the age benchmark by two years.

The allowance was paid for the first time in 2012 to those aged 80 and over who lived at home. Some 13,000 pensioners had benefitted from the measure.

The decision to widen the age bracket will include 2,000 additional pensioners at an annual cost of €1.5 million to public coffers. Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said the age bracket would also become accessible to those aged 75 and over in 2014. Pensioners will receive the full cost-of-living-adjustment increase as has been the case for the past years. Two-thirds of this will be reflected in their pensions while the rest will be in the form of a one-off bonus.

The minister also announced that those who received a service pension would see the exempt amount increase by a further €200. This means the exempt portion will rise to €1,266.

Mr Fenech said the means test attached to the carers’ pension would be removed from January and this would be paid across the board.

The supplementary assistance will increase by €100 a year for those aged over 65 who are at risk of poverty. The initiative will cost the State €1.2 million. The Government also fine-tuned a measure introduced in 2007, where somebody receiving a widow pension will continue to receive it even if they get married.

In January 2007, only widowers who got married after this date benefitted from the decision. From this January, the measure will apply also to widowers who got married before 2007.

The take-home pension will rise in the case of couples where one spouse lives in residential care and the other at home. Today, the spouse at home receives 60 per cent of the pension and, from January, this portion will grow to 70 per cent.

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