Payments are divided into 3 categories:
1. Contributory: Social insurance payments (usually called benefits) are related to social insurance (PRSI) contributions made while in employment in a relevant tax year.
PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance) is a payment made by employers and employees in Ireland into a national fund.
The Relevant Tax Year for a claim is the second last complete tax year before the start of the year you are making the claim, for example, if you are making a claim in 2017, the relevant Tax Year is 2015.
2. Non-Contributory: Social assistance payments are means-tested (based on your income) and paid to people who do not have enough contributions to qualify for a contributory benefit payment or who have used up their entitlement. They are usually called allowances.
A means test is carried out by the Department of Social Protection. The test looks at all your income to see if your total income is below a certain level.
3. Universal: These do not depend on insurance contributions or a means test, for example: Free Travel on public transport for residents over 66 years
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Habitual residence is a condition which you must satisfy in order to qualify for some social welfare assistance payments. This condition took effect from 1st May 2004 and affects all applicants regardless of nationality.
When deciding if you are habitually resident, the following five factors are considered:
1. Your main centre of interest, based on facts such as:
2. The length and continuity of residence in Ireland and in any other country
3. The length and purpose of any absence from Ireland
4. The nature and pattern of your employment
5. Your future intention to live in the Republic of Ireland as it appears from all the circumstances
You must be habitually resident in Ireland to qualify for the following payments:
If you do not satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition you will not qualify for these payments. You may appeal a decision to refuse your application based on not being considered habitually resident.
EC Regulations apply to people who travel and work within the European Economic Area (EEA).
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, the Republic of Cyprus (Cyprus South), Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK.
They cover workers and people getting social security benefits who are nationals of the above countries, stateless persons or refugees living permanently in any of these countries and their dependents. Non-EU nationals who have worked in another EU country will soon be covered.
Forms are available from your local social welfare office or from the Department of Social Protection at: www.welfare.ie
Basic Supplementary Welfare may be given to you if you do not have enough money to take care of yourself. You must pass a means test. You are entitled to apply if:
You will normally qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you satisfy the following conditions:
You will not normally qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you are:
Rent Supplement is financial assistance with paying for your private rental accommodation. It is a form of SWA.
NOTE: You can qualify for rent supplement if you were living in private rented accommodation for at least 6 months (183 days) of the last 12 months, and you could afford the rent at the beginning of your tenancy but you are unable to continue to pay the rent because of a substantial change in your circumstances which occurred after you started renting.
If you were living in accommodation for homeless people for at least 6 months (183 days) of the last 12 months you will also qualify for rent supplement. If you have already been assessed as qualified for social housing support you will be referred to your local authority to have your housing needs addressed (rather than being assessed for rent supplement).
What is HAP?
The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. HAP will eventually replace long-term Rent Supplement.
Under the HAP scheme, local authorities are responsible for accessing all social housing needs. It also enables people to take up full-time employment and keep their housing support.
Local authorities pay landlords directly. The rent charged for the accommodation must be within the limits set out by the local authority. Tenants also pay a weekly rent contribution to the local authority, based on their income and ability to pay. For further information go to: www.housing.gov.ie
How do I qualify for an Exceptional Needs Payment?
You may be paid an Exceptional Needs Payment to assist with essential once-off unexpected expenses, for example, funeral expenses. Payment is at the discretion of the Community Welfare Officer (CWO).
You may be granted an Urgent Needs Payment even if you are not normally eligible to receive assistance under the Supplementary Welfare Scheme. Payments are normally made to assist with immediate needs such as food, clothing in the aftermath of a fire or flood. Depending on your circumstances you may have to pay back all or part of what you have been paid, for example, if you are working or once an insurance claim has been settled.
Supplementary Welfare Allowance is payable for as long as you satisfy the qualifying conditions.
You can apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance to the Community Welfare Officer (CWO) at your local Health Centre or social welfare office.
You should bring the following:
If you require further information you can contact the Community Welfare Officer (CWO) in your local Health Centre.
You have the right to appeal the decision. If you wish to make an appeal you should write to the Appeals Officer in your local Health Centre.
There are a number of both social insurance and social assistance payments for people who are sick or who have a disability. Illness Benefit and Invalidity Pension are based on work history contributions. Illness Benefit is intended for those with a short-term illness but it can be paid in the long-term. Invalidity Pension is a long-term payment. Disability Allowance and Blind Pension are long-term means tested payments. There is also the Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme that applies to work related injuries and diseases and Disablement Benefit for loss of physical or mental faculty because of an occupational injury or a prescribed occupational disease.
For more information on health services for people with disabilities contact the HSE.
The Living Alone Increase is an extra payment for people on social welfare pensions who are living alone.
The National Fuel Scheme is intended to help households that depend on long-term social welfare or Health Service Executive payments and are unable to pay for their own heating needs. The Scheme generally operates from the beginning of September to the end of March.
If you are receiving a social welfare payment you must complete Form NFS1 and apply either at your local social welfare office or send the form to the Social Welfare Services Offices in Longford or Sligo. If you are receiving a payment from the Health Service Executive (HSE), you should apply to your Community Welfare Officer (CWO) at your local Health Centre.
The Treatment Benefit Scheme is available to insured workers and retired people who have the required number of PRSI contributions. Under the scheme, you get a contribution towards the costs involved:
The amount of social insurance you need depends on your age. Search for ‘Treatment Benefit’ on www.welfare.ie for more information.
Dental: Forms are available from your dentist.
Optical: Forms are available from your optician, local Social Welfare Services office or the Treatment Benefit Section.
Aural: Forms are available from private suppliers of equipment (hearing aids) or the Treatment Benefit Section.
If you do not qualify for Treatment Benefit on your Irish social insurance record, but you worked and made social insurance contributions in another country covered by EC Regulations, you may use your social insurance record in that country to help you qualify, as long as you have paid at least one PRSI contribution at Class A, E, H and P (most employees pay Class A PRSI).
Treatment Benefit Section
Department of Social Protection
St. Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
Lo-Call: 1890 400 400 (ext. 4480)
Telephone: 01 7043000
This project is co-financed by the European Commission under the European Integration Fund and is supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Dept of Justice & Equality & Pobal.