People over 60 can now remain on the Community Employment and Rural Social Scheme until retirement.
Major reforms to the schemes have been announced by Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, and Minister for State, Joe O'Brien.
The CE scheme supports long-term unemployed people in gaining work experience and finding employment opportunities while providing vital services in local communities.
The Rural Social Scheme meanwhile is an income support providing part-time employment opportunities for underemployed farmers in receipt of specific social welfare payments.
Others changes to the scheme includes allowing a CE participant to remain on the scheme until a replacement participant is found and improvements in the referral process of unemployed candidates to CE schemes.
Minister Humphreys welcomed government approval of the changes and said "there are huge societal benefits from the good work carried out by these schemes".