Irish Medical Organisation

Financial planning issues facing women

Dear Members,

The Medical Workforce Intelligence Report 2015 has revealed that among doctors under 35 years of age, who graduated from an Irish medical school, 63% were women. This figure is a stark contrast to doctors aged between 55 - 64 with women in the minority at just 34%. While we have witnessed an increase in women graduating from medical school, we have also experienced a drop in women’s participation in the medical workforce, most likely for family reasons. Given the impact of maternity, parental and other caring roles, women will likely continue to have a fractured relationship with work.

This means when it comes to retirement and other financial matters, women will continue to fare worse than men. We listed below financial issues that often affect women and hope that our newsletter specifically dedicated to our female membership will be of interest to you.

If you would like further information on any of the issues discussed in this newsletter, please do not hesitate to contact IMO Financial Services by phone on 01/6618299 or via email on

Please feel free to contact me on with any feedback you might have.

Best Wishes

Nives Paic QFA

General Manager
IMO Financial Services

Warning: The material in this document is not intended to provide advice and is provided for general information purposes only.

Fitzserv Consultants Ltd. t/a IMO Financial Services is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland


Pension - Know your entitlements

1. State Pension

At the moment, if you have made 520 social insurance contributions (that is ten years of payments), you would receive the maximum contributory pension of €12,700 per year. But not everyone is entitled to this and depending on your level of contributions, you may find that you only qualify for a lower rate. The 520 social insurance contributions will also likely work against many women who have spent time out of the workforce.

To qualify for State Pension (Contributory) you must have enough Class A, E, F, G, H, N or S social insurance contributions.

You also need to:

  1. have paid social insurance contributions before 56.

  2. have a certain number of social insurance contributions paid.

  3. have a certain average number over the years since you first stared to pay.

If you are unclear about the number of social insurance contributions you have accumulated please contact the Department of Social Protection, McCarter’s Road, Ardaravan, Buncrana, Co. Donegal. This is of particular importance if you are nearing retirement.

One also needs to be cognisant of the fact that due to an ageing population, one cannot rely on the current State benefit being around in the future. A total of 17% of the population is over 60 years of age at present. It is projected that 29% will be over 60 in 2050. This will have obvious implications for the state pension with the risk of a reduced pension in the future. As we are living longer, retirement may have to be deferred with part-time retiring becoming the norm – e.g. reducing from five days to three days.

To ensure that you are financially secure in your retirement, you can top up your pension through additional regular contributions or single premium top ups.

2. The GP pension scheme

For our GP members, the GMS pension is made up of the Health Board’s 10% contribution of the GP’s capitation fees and the GP’s 5% mandatory contribution. The GP can choose to boost the value of the assets in their retirement account by making additional voluntary contributions (AVC’s). As the description suggests these contributions are not mandatory, but are a very useful tax planning tool in reducing a GP’s tax liability.

The AVC has to be invested in an AVC fund linked with the GMS scheme. This can be done either through Mercer’s GMS fund or, independently, with one of the insurance companies. Many GPs will now invest their AVCs in a PRSA AVC, independently of Mercer, which offers further investment diversification.

3. State Superannuation

Doctors employed by the state contribute to a pension called superannuation.  This is a state operated pension fund which will pay benefits at retirement based on salary and service.  You need 40 years’ whole time service to achieve maximum benefits.  There are now 5 variations of the state superannuation.  These differ in terms of retirement age and calculating of benefits.  Maximum benefits are 50% final salary as a pension and 1.5 times final salary as a tax free lump sum.  To enhance these benefits employees can purchase additional service from the HSE or alternatively fund into an Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC).

4.  Maternity leave and your pension entitlements

If you take time out of the workforce (for maternity or parental leave), your employer may continue to make pension contributions on your behalf. But what happens to your State pension?

First of all, if you are not getting paid during maternity leave, then you will not be paying PRSI, and you will not be building up credits for your State pension. However, you may qualify for credited contributions, which are just like the PRSI contributions you pay while you are working.

If you get maternity benefit, you will get credits automatically. However, as this ends after 26 weeks and if you take a further 16 weeks’ unpaid leave you will need to get your employer to complete the application form for maternity leave credits when you return to work. Do not assume that your payroll department with apply on your behalf. On your return to work check that they have written to the Department of Social Protection to ensure that your record remains intact.

Warning: Past performance is not a reliable guide to future performance. The material in this email is not intended to provide advice and is provided for general information purposes only.

Fitzserv Consultants Ltd. t/a IMO Financial Services is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland


Research done by Royal London* shows that the number of men and women taking out life assurance policies is almost a 50:50 split; men’s policies were on average valued at 20-27% more than their female counterparts. Could the gender pay gap have something to do with it? Whatever the reason here are some statistics from Irish Life** on female claims:

The top 3 causes of:       

Specified Illness Cover Claims:

Life Insurance Claims:

  1. Malignant Cancer
  1. Cancer
  1. Heart related conditions
  1. Heart related conditions
  1. Multiple sclerosis
  1. Respiratory

Make sure that you are adequately covered.

*Royal London Press Release 1st December 2015

** Irish Life Claim Statistics 8th March 2016

Warning: The material in this document is not intended to provide advice and is provided for general information purposes only.

Fitzserv Consultants Ltd. t/a IMO Financial Services is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland


The Government introduced standardised sick leave across the public service in 2014. Under the new arrangements full pay is paid for 13 weeks in a given year, followed by a further 13 weeks at half pay. This is subject to a maximum total payment period of 26 weeks in a rolling 4-year period. Where the reason for sick leave is deemed by the Government to be a one off critical illness, the sick leave benefit is doubled to 26 weeks of full sick leave in a given year followed by a further 26 weeks of half pay.

If you are unable to work due to illness or injury, how would you and your family maintain their standard of living? You may also have the additional burden of extra medical costs or added childcare expenses. Could you continue to pay these bills if you lost your regular income? If the answer is no, you need income protection.

Income protection is a type of insurance that is designed to replace the normal income you earn should you be unable to work for a period of time due to illness, disability or accident. It pays you a regular sum of money every month that replaces the salary you have lost because you are no longer working.

IMO’s group scheme income protection is now aligned with the Government sick pay arrangements. It will kick in from the day you are no longer entitled to full rate sick pay. For members with private sector income, the group scheme income protection has a deferred period of 13 weeks.

Warning: The material in this document is not intended to provide advice and is provided for general information purposes only.

Fitzserv Consultants Ltd. t/a IMO Financial Services is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland

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