One in 10 pensioners 'face fear of poverty'

One in 10 pensioners are at risk of poverty despite a near 50% jump in income levels over a five-year period, according to new statistics.

Official figures showed the gross weekly income for over 65-year-olds rose from an average €289.05 in 2004 to €428.86 in 2009.

While poverty fell among the age group, the proportion in poverty was 1.1% in 2009, down from 3.9%, while those on the breadline was 9.6%, down from 27%.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said pension payments from the State remained the most significant source of income, well over half in both 2004 and 2009.

However, it also revealed that some senior citizens continue to work for wages, with others in receipt of occupational pensions.

Campaign groups have demanded the State freeze pension payments in the upcoming Budget to protect the most vulnerable of older people, especially those who are ill or live in isolation in poor accommodation.

Elsewhere, the survey on income and living conditions show more than 55% of the elderly population were female in 2009 while more than a third lived alone and had the lowest gross income.

Over half were married, with a third widowed, separated or divorced and just 13% never wed.

Some 50% stated they suffered from a chronic illness or health problem while almost 41% of the elderly population were covered by private medical insurance.

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