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SOCIAL WELFARE

Social welfare rights and entitlements for returning Irish emigrants is an important  consideration and a complicated area. Each individual will have different circumstances and it may be necessary to get one-to-one advice from Safe Home Ireland staff to fully assess your personal situation.

The information below is intended to provide basic information and to help answer your questions about social welfare.

For further details or advice, please contact us at Safe Home Ireland and we will explain the social welfare system and assess your situation.

ONE-TO-ONE ADVICE

Safe Home Ireland can give you tailored advice and information about moving or returning to Ireland. Our service is free and confidential.

FAQs

I AM AN IRISH CITIZEN THINKING OF RETURNING HOME. WHAT BENEFITS WILL I BE ENTITLED TO?

There is no automatic entitlement to welfare in Ireland, unless you have paid sufficient contributions into the system here.
If you need to apply for means tested welfare payments in Ireland, most will be subject to meeting the Habitual Residence Condition
Habitual Residence is a condition which you must satisfy to qualify for certain social welfare assistance (means tested) payments and in some cases, Child Benefit* in Ireland.
*Child Benefit and EU Regulations: EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals working in Ireland satisfy the habitual residence condition for Child Benefit. This is also the case if the worker becomes unemployed and gets Jobseeker’s Benefit.
The Habitual Residence Condition took effect from 1 May 2004 and affects all applicants, regardless of nationality.
If you have lived outside of Ireland, it is likely that any welfare claim you make will have to be accompanied by a Habitual Residence application – HRC1, this form is available to view/download on the Department of Social Protection website: www.welfare.ie
www.welfare.ie/en/pdf/hrc1.pdf 
This applies across the board regardless of whether or not you were born and reared in Ireland/are an Irish Citizen. Under EU law, an exemption on Habitual Residence could not be made for Irish Citizens without extending this to all EU Nationals.

WHAT IS HABITUAL RESIDENCE?

The term “habitually resident” is not defined in Irish law. In practice it means that the applicant has to have a proven close link to Ireland. The term also conveys permanence – that a person has been here for some time and intends to stay here for the foreseeable future.

We will try to simplify the main points around the topic of Habitual Residence as it relates to welfare applications in Ireland.

When making decisions on relevant welfare applications, deciding officers will look at all other qualifying conditions for the payment and then consider whether the applicant is Habitually Resident in the State.

You must be Habitually Resident to qualify for the following payments:
• Blind Pension
• Carer’s Allowance
• Child Benefit* (please see note)
• Disability Allowance
• Domiciliary Care Allowance
• Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)
• Jobseeker’s Allowance
• One-Parent Family Payment
• State Pension (Non-Contributory)
• Supplementary Welfare Allowance
• Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension

When assessing a welfare claim, firstly your right to reside in Ireland and other qualifying conditions are looked at, then when making a decision on Habitual Residence, the following 5 factors are examined:
• Length and continuity of residence in Ireland, past & present
• Length and purpose of any absence from Ireland
• Nature and pattern of employment
• Your main centre of interest
• Your future intentions to live in Ireland as it appears from the evidence

Applicants who are being assessed for Habitual Residency should provide as much back up documentation as possible with their claim/attach it to the HRC1 form. By backing up your claim with documentation, it will be easier and quicker for a deciding officer to assess your eligibility. When considering the relevant documentation to provide, consider the following categories:
(A) Proof that shows you have cut all ties with the country you have left
And
(B) Proof to show your links with Ireland and that you intend to remain here for the foreseeable future.
Some examples of helpful supporting documentation:
• Proof to show you have given up accommodation abroad
• Proof that you have cancelled or applied to cancel any non-transferable benefits
• Proof you have transferred or applied to transfer any transferable income
• If feasible, proof to show that you have closed your bank account/s abroad and that you have applied to open a bank account here
• 3 months back bank statements and closing statement/s
• Proof to show you have a tenancy in your own name (in Ireland)
• Proof of travel documents including, where relevant, excess baggage fees and removal/shipping receipts
• Details of family connections in Ireland and previous residency here
• Proof to show children are in school here
• Proof to show a car has been registered in Ireland
• Registration with a GP here
• Proof to show you have joined any local organisations/community groups
Exempt from the habitual residence condition
Certain people, in particular EEA nationals who are considered migrant workers, are exempt from the habitual residence condition – contact us for additional information on this or check www.welfare.ie
Note!
If you have moved to Ireland and already received a positive decision on Habitual Residency, this should carry through to subsequent claims unless there has been a significant change in circumstances since a new application was made.

The subject of Habitual Residence is a complicated one and each applicant’s case may differ depending on their individual circumstances.
Our Advice: Ensure that you have a good ‘paper trail’ of documentation that outlines your circumstances clear.
If you think that HRC may apply to you, take advice from an agency BEOFRE submitting any welfare claim.
We would advise that you contact us directly and we will be happy to call or email you back to discuss your own individual case – Contact us

You may wish to have a look at the Department of Social Protection website for full detailed information – www.welfare.ie 

The following agencies will also be a good source of Information:
www.citizensinformation.ie 
www.migrantproject.ie 

I AM WONDERING WHAT PART OF MY CURRENT BENEFITS MIGHT TRANSFER TO IRELAND WITH ME WHEN I MOVE. HOW DO I FIND THIS OUT?

As a general guide, anything that you have paid contributions into will transfer with you when you move (E.G State Pension, Private or Works Pensions)

Any income that you currently receive which is non contributory/ means tested is unlikely to transfer with you (E.G Pension Credit payments, Income ‘top up’ payments)

Our advice to anyone considering a move to Ireland is to make enquiries with the Agency/Department that oversees your current payment. You will need to establish from them how a permanent move to Ireland is likely to affect your on-going entitlement. If possible, get this information in writing.

For further information, Please see:

 www.gov.uk/international-pension-centre

Contacting an Irish Welfare & Advice Centre or a local Citizens Advice Bureau may also be helpful.

I MAY NEED TO APPLY FOR A MEANS TESTED WELFARE PAYMENT WHEN I MOVE TO IRELAND. CAN YOU TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT THE QUALIFYING CONDITIONS?

As a general guide, anything that you have paid contributions into will transfer with you when you move (E.G State Pension, Private or Works Pensions)

Any income that you currently receive which is non contributory/ means tested is unlikely to transfer with you (E.G Pension Credit payments, Income ‘top up’ payments)

As well as satisfying a means test and other qualifying conditions for most Non Contributory/means tested welfare payments, it is likely that you will also have to show that you are Habitually Resident in the State.

In brief, satisfying the Habitual Residence Condition means that you may have to provide back-up documentary evidence to show that:

(A) you have moved to Ireland and you intend to remain here for the foreseeable future/permanently; you have connections to /in Ireland. Previous residency is also taken into account

AND

(B) Show that you have severed your ties with the country you left.

For further information, please see: www.welfare.ie

Contacting an Irish Welfare & Advice Centre or a local Citizens Advice Bureau may also be helpful.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN TYPES OF BENEFITS RELATING TO OLDER PEOPLE?

For a full outline of benefits and entitlements for older people living in Ireland, please see HERE.

The State Pension (Contributory) is paid to people from the age of 66 who have enough Irish social insurance contributions. It is not means-tested. You can have other income and still get a State Pension (Contributory). This pension is taxable but you are unlikely to pay tax if it is your only income.

HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF I HAVE ENOUGH CONTRIBUTIONS TO QUALIFY FOR A FULL OR PART IRISH CONTRIBUTORY PENSION?

Enquiries about your social insurance contribution record should be addressed to: PRSI Records – Department of Social ProtectionMcCarter’s Road, Ardaravan, Buncrana, Co. Donegal.    

You can find more information HERE

I WORKED IN IRELAND FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS AND PAID CONTRIBUTIONS. I MIGHT BE ENTITLED TO AT LEAST A PART- IRISH CONTRIBUTORY PENSION. CAN I CLAIM THIS PENSION WHILE STILL LIVING ABROAD?

Yes, if you have sufficient contributions, the Irish State Pension (Contributory) can be paid to people living outside of the State.

Please Note! If you receive a Contributory Pension from Ireland and you are in receipt of any means tested, top up’ benefits or  housing support payments abroad, this additional income is likely to affect those payments.

The Pension Service in Ireland does not give ‘pension entitlement
forecasts’. However, for general enquiries in relation to a Contributory Irish
Pension or ‘pro-rata’ Pension (using a combination of pension
contributions made in Ireland and some countries abroad), you can make
general enquiries HERE

Or by contacting:
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Services
College Road
Sligo
Ireland
Tel: (+353) 71 915 7100

For additional information on pension schemes, including the option to print or download the relevant application forms, please see:

www.welfare.ie       

I WILL BE LOOKING FOR EMPLOYMENT WHEN I MOVE TO IRELAND. IS THERE ANY ASSISTANCE I CAN APPLY FOR UNTIL I FIND WORK?

If you are aged 18 or over and unemployed, you may be paid either Jobseeker’s Allowance (means tested)OR Jobseeker’s Benefit (contribution based).

You can find out about transferring Job Seekers Benefit to Ireland HERE

You may get Jobseeker’s Allowance if you don’t have sufficient contributions to qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit or if you have used up your entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit.

You must be unemployed to get Jobseeker’s Allowance. You must also be capable of, available for, and genuinely seeking work to qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance – and you must be able to show evidence of this to the Department of Social Protection. You must also be considered Habitually Resident in the State. Please see HERE for a guide to the Habitual Residence Condition devised by Crosscare Migrant Project.

Apply to the Local Social Welfare Office

For additional information, please search ‘Job Seekers’ via the following sites;

www.welfare.ie           www.citizensinformation.ie 

WHAT ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE TO CARERS AND DISABLED PEOPLE?

Carer’s Allowance is a means tested payment to people on low incomes who are looking after a person who needs full time care and support because of age, physical/learning disability or illness (including mental illness).

Please see Carer’s Allowance for more information or access the websites below

www.welfare.ie           www.citizensinformation.ie  

Disability Allowance is a means tested weekly allowance paid to people with a disability. You can get Disability Allowance from 16 years of age.

To qualify for Disability Allowance, you must:

(A) Have an injury, disease or physical or mental disability that has continued or may be expected to continue for at least one year

(B) As a result of this disability be substantially restricted in undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable for a person of your age, experience and qualifications

(C) Be aged between 16 and 66. When you reach 66 years of age you no longer qualify for DA, but you are assessed for a State pension.

For full details, see Disability Allowance or access additional information via the following sites:
www.welfare.ie           www.citizensinformation.ie  

APART FROM THE PRIMARY WELFARE PAYMENT (E.G PENSION) ARE THERE ANY OTHER SUPPORTS AVAILABLE?

Household Benefits Package:  If you in receipt of a qualifying welfare payment and satisfy the relevant conditions, you may qualify for the Household Benefits Package. This is a package of 2 allowances which help you with the costs of running your household.

Allowance 1 – The Electricity Allowance or Natural Gas Allowance

Allowance 2 – The Free Television Licence

For full qualifying conditions and to view or download the Application Form, please see Household Benefits Package

More information is available via www.welfare.ie           www.citizensinformation.ie  

Free Travel: Everyone aged 66 and over living permanently in the State is entitled to the Free Travel Scheme. Some people under 66 are also entitled. If you qualify for free travel, you are issued with a pass that you must carry with you when using public transport. In some cases, a free companion pass may be available to allow a person to accompany the free travel pass holder.

For full qualifying conditions and to view or download the Application Form, please see Free Travel

More information is available via the following sites;

www.welfare.ie           www.citizensinformation.ie  

Living Alone Allowance is an extra weekly payment for people aged 66+ who are living alone and in receipt of a qualifying payment from the Department of Social Protection.  Note! – You will also qualify if you are under 66, live alone and are getting Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement and Blind Pension.

To apply contact the section of the Department of Social Protection that pays your main pension or benefit.

For full qualifying conditions, rates of payment and to view or download the Application Form, please see, Living Alone Allowance

More information is available via the following sites;  www.welfare.ie           www.citizensinformation.ie  

Fuel Allowance is a payment under the National Fuel Scheme to help with the cost of heating your home. It is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. The scheme operates for 26 weeks of the year, from dates in Oct-April. Fuel Allowance is a means tested payment.

For full qualifying conditions, rates of payment and to view or download the Application Form, please see

 Fuel Allowance

More information is available via the following sites; www.welfare.ie           www.citizensinformation.ie  

WHERE CAN I GET ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON ALL WELFARE PAYMENTS IN IRELAND?

For full details on all welfare payments, including qualifying conditions, rates of payment and to view or download relevant Application Forms, please see:  www.welfare.ie  

I THINK I MEAN NEED TO APPLY FOR MEANS TESTED WELFARE PAYMENTS WHEN I MOVE TO IRELAND. CAN I BEGIN THE APPLICATION PROCESS BEFORE I MAKE THE MOVE?

No – Most means tested welfare payments are based on the applicant being considered Habitually Resident in the State. Please see HERE for additional information on residency requirements

CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM, ‘QUALIFIED ADULT’, IN RELATION TO SOCIAL WELFARE PAYMENTS IN IRELAND?

If you qualify for a social welfare payment you get an amount for yourself, which is called the ‘personal rate of payment’.

You may also get an extra amount for your adult dependant (called a qualified adult) which is paid as an increase to your personal payment (called an Increase for a Qualified Adult or IQA). An adult dependant is usually your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant.

cohabitant is one of two adults (whether of the same or opposite sex) who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who are not close relatives.

The IQA is subject to other qualifying conditions and means testing. For more information on claiming for an adult dependent, see HERE

WHAT TYPES OF SOCIAL WELFARE SUPPORTS ARE AVAILABLE TO FAMILIES IN IRELAND?

There are many different types of families and social welfare payments are designed to support those most in need of financial assistance. To find out more about the types of payments and qualifying conditions, please see:

www.citizensinformation.ie/en/birth_family_relationships/family_benefits_and_entitlements.html

CAN YOU GIVE ME AN OUTLINE OF THE CURRENT RATES OF PAYMENT FOR WELFARE PAYMENTS IN IRELAND?

For the latest information on social welfare rates in Ireland;

Have a look HERE for details of 2019 social welfare payment rates in Ireland
Full information on the range of social welfare entitlements operating in
Ireland can be found HERE