Govt superannuation age to rise to 67 in 2040

Superannuation eligibility will be raised from 65 to 67 in 2040, the Government has announced.

The changes will be phased in from July 1 2037, and will not affect anyone born on or before June 30 1972.

Everyone born on or after January 1 1974 will be eligible for NZ Super from age 67.

The residency requirement for eligibility for NZ Super will also be changed, from 10 years to 20 years.

The change will apply to people arriving in New Zealand after the legislation is passed.   

Prime Minister Bill English made the announcement on Monday afternoon, and it will be legislated for in 2018.

"New Zealanders are healthier and living longer so adjusting the long-term settings of NZ Super while there is time for people to adapt is the right thing to do," Mr English says.

Funding superannuation currently costs about 5 percent of GDP, compared to an average of 9 percent across OECD countries.

This cost is expected to rise to 8.4 percent of GDP by 2060 at the current eligibility age. 

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub told Newshub the policy is "not so super", and it's a cynical move by Mr English to cater to baby boomer voters.

While he's glad to see changes being made to the superannuation system, he thinks the policy is set too far in the future. 

"The changes are going to start in 2037, 2040, by that time the big bulge of baby boomers, which is going to be the big part of costing us lots in super, will be largely through the system".

"The boomers, who are strong supporters of the Government, are going to be dead before this is changed".

It's too little, coming in too late, according to economist Shamubeel Eaqub (file)
It's too little, coming in too late, according to economist Shamubeel Eaqub (file)

Mr Eaqub says the Government should instead be progressively raising the superannuation age from now, as life expectancy continues to rise.

He would also like to see means-testing introduced so wealthy people are not accessing the scheme, and index the payments to cost of living and not to wages.  

"Those two things will make big differences to the cost of super, and none of those changes are on the table".

The Maori party, Act and United Future have all said they do not support the move. 

Mr English said he won't rule out keeping the eligibility age at 65, if it is a bottom line of another party in post-Election coalition negotiations.

Former Prime Minister John Key refused to touch the issue during his eight year term, and promised to resign from Parliament before he'd raise the retirement age.

Superannuation currently costs the country $30 million a day, according to Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell, and that'll blow out to $288 million a day by 2050.

Speaking to The AM show on Monday morning, Ms Maxwell hoped that the Government's announcement would include:

  • gradually raising the age of eligibility to 67, preferably by 2035
  • requiring immigrants to live here for 25 years before they're eligible, not 10
  • investing the savings in helping people in their 50s retrain and upskill

On Three's The Nation at the weekend, Mr English said there was room for change in the superannuation scheme, then backpeddled, saying "you'll have to wait and see".

NZ First leader Winston Peters says the party would refuse to form a Government with National if it increased the retirement age. Mr Peters wants the age to remain at 65, it's one of his bottom lines going into any post-election deals.

Superannuation: the current cost:

2017: $11 billion a year

           $30 million a day

2027: $20 billion a year

           $55 million a week

2037: $36 billion a year

           $99 million a week

Source: Retirement Commissioner 

With Māori life expectancy rate lower than that of the general population, the Māori Party wants Māori and Pasifika to be exempt from any increase.

Labour advocated for raising the age to 67 at the 2014 election, but dropped the policy after Andrew Little took over as leader.

United Future advocates a flexible policy, which guarantees superannuation at 65 but allows people to take a lower rate from 60 or a higher rate from 70.

Their policy would also make KiwiSaver compulsory.