NETHERLANDS – Jetta Klijnsma, state secretary for the Social Affairs Ministry, has unveiled a benefits scheme to bridge the income gap for people in early retirement schemes based on an pensionable age of 65, who are now facing an income loss following the increase of the official retirement age.

The scheme is to focus on people who had little time to prepare for the increase, or lacked the financial means to compensate for the income gap, she said.

Last October, the new government coalition decided to gradually raise the retirement age for the state pension AOW from 65 to 67 in 2021, starting with one-month a year increases in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and larger increases thereafter.

In addition to the coalition agreement, Klijnsma said the government also wanted to include people with private insurance benefits that are to expire at 65.

Klijnsma said the income of people involved in the scheme had to be less than 150% of the legal minimum income in order to be eligible.

She added that the benefits would be means-tested and not exceed the legal social minimum income.

As there are already people facing the consequences of the AOW age increase, the state secretary underlined the importance of a speedy implementation of the bridging scheme.

She said it would come into force in the second half of this year, and be applied retroactively until 1 January 2013.

She estimated the costs at €12m for 2013 – when 11,000 people are expected to be eligible – and anticipated a benefits peak of €28m in 2016 and 2017.

The bridging scheme is to end in 2018.