State Pension (Contributory)


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Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Table of Contents

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

  • Description of Scheme
  • Legislation
  • Administration

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN SUMMARY:

  • Social Insurance Contribution Categories
  • Full-rate contributions
  • Modified rate contributions
  • Credits

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN DETAIL:

  • First contribution condition - age at entry
  • Second contribution condition - number of full-rate employment contributions paid
  • Third contribution condition - the average test
  • Pension Age
  • Insurance prior to 1953
  • Rounding up
  • Self-employed persons
  • Homemakers
  • Special partial State Pension (Contributory)
  • EU or Bilateral Agreement (BA) pro-rata State Pension (Contributory)
  • Legislation
  • Qualifying Conditions
  • General
  • Pension age - Bilateral Countries
  • Calculation of rate of payment
  • Allowances
  • Mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension (Contributory)
  • Qualifying Conditions
  • Calculation of rate of payment
  • Allowances

Special State Pension (Contributory) for the Self-Employed

Special State Pension (Contributory) for persons with social insurance contributions paid prior to 1953

STATE PENSION (NON-CONTRIBUTORY)

DISQUALIFICATIONS

  • Late Claims
  • Imprisonment

PAYMENT RATES STRUCTURE

  • Personal Rate
  • Increases in Pension and Additional Allowances
  • Age 80 allowance
  • Increase in pension for a Qualified Adult
  • Increase for a Qualified Child
  • Living alone increase
  • Fuel allowance
  • Increase for Living on a Specified Island
  • After Death Benefits

EXTRA BENEFITS

  • Overlapping Provisions

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

  • Claims
  • Late Claims
  • Documentation
  • Examination of Claim
  • Decisions
  • Appeals

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

  • Payment
  • Payment Methods
  • Duration of Payment
  • After Death Benefits
  • Bereavement Grant
  • Separate Payments
  • Maintenance
  • Age allowances
  • Lost/Stolen cheque
  • Payment to an agent
  • Change of Post Office/Bank, Method of Payment or change of address
  • Illness/Hospital Stays
  • Imprisonment
  • Absence from the State
  • Certification of ongoing entitlement
  • Review
  • Suspension/Revocation

 


PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

Description of Scheme

State Pension (Contributory) is a social insurance based payment made to people at age 66. This is not a means-tested payment. A person can receive payment of State Pension (Contributory)  and continue to work or have other income such as an occupational pension.

State Pension (Contributory) was known as Old Age Contributory Pension up to 28 September 2006. 

Legislation

The main provisions relating to State Pension (Contributory) are contained in

  • Chapter 15 (sections 108 to 112) of Part II of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 as amended, and
  • Chapter 7 of Part 2 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and control Regulations (S.I. No 142 of 2007) as amended.
  • Section 9 of the social Welfare and Pensions (No.2) Act 2009
  • Section 7 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 as amended.
  • Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and control) Regulations 2007 to 2012

Administration

The scheme is administered by the Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN SUMMARY

A person must

  • be age 66 or over
  • satisfy social insurance contribution conditions or
  • be in receipt of Invalidity Pension or State Pension (Transition) on reaching 66 years of age

NOTE FOR INFORMATION

Social Insurance Contribution Categories

For State Pension (Contributory) purposes, social insurance contributions can be divided into two categories - full-rate and modified rate.

Full-rate contributions:

Full-rate contributions are reckonable for State Pension (Contributory). There are two types of full-rate contributions, as follows:

Full-rate employment contributions (i.e. contributions paid as an insurably employed or insurably self-employed person):

  • PRSI contributions at classes A, E, F, G, H, N and S ( PRSI was introduced in April 1979. Class S for the self-employed was introduced on 6 April 1988)
  • most contribution classes paid prior to April 1979 except for those payable in respect of permanent and pensionable Civil and Public servants who paid modified rate (see below re modified rate)

Full-rate voluntary contributions (i.e. contributions paid on a voluntary basis by a person who is not insurably employed or insurably self-employed:

  • high rate voluntary contributions
    (see 'PRSI Voluntary Cons' guideline for more general information.)
  • special rate voluntary contributions(paid by the self-employed)

Modified rate contributions:

Modified rate contributions are not reckonable for a full standard State Pension (Contributory). However they are used when calculating entitlement to a mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension (Contributory). There are two types of modified rate contributions, as follows:

Modified rate employment contributions:

  • PRSI contributions at classes B, C and D (PRSI was introduced in April 1979)
  • contributions paid prior to April 1979 in respect of permanent and pensionable Civil and Public servants

Modified rate voluntary contributions:

Note: PRSI contributions at classes J and K and pre 1979 employment contributions which provide cover for Occupational Injuries Benefit only are not reckonable for pension purposes.

Class S PRSI:

Class S PRSI is paid by self employed people and provides cover for State Pension (Contributory). Certain conditions apply as follows:

  • Before reaching their 66th birthday, a person must have paid self employment contributions in respect of at least one contribution year
  • All self employment contributions payable must be paid in full
  • In respect of claims for State Pension (Contributory) made on or after 1 January 2010, the pension will only be paid from the date on which all self employment contributions have been paid in full (apart from the last full contribution year before your 66th birthday)

Credits:

Credited contributions are awarded in certain circumstances by the Department, generally in respect of periods of unemployment or incapacity for work due to illness.

See 'Credited Contributions" guideline for more general information.

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN DETAIL:

Contribution Conditions:

First contribution condition - age at entry

A person must have started paying social insurance employment contributions at full or modified rate before a certain date, depending on date of birth, as follows:

  • Before age 60 if born before 1 July 1917
  • Before age 58 if born between 1 July 1917 and 31 March 1919 (both dates inclusive)
  • Before age 57 if born between 1 April 1919 and 30 September 1922 (both dates inclusive)
  • Before age 56 if born on or after 1 October 1922

Insurance prior to 1953 - National Health Insurance contributions paid prior to 1953 are reckonable in order to satisfy the condition of entry into social insurance before a specified date for standard State Pension (Contributory).

Second contribution condition - number of full-rate contributions paid

  • A person reaching age 66 on or before 5 April 2002 must have paid 156 full-rate employment contributions or, if the yearly average (see third condition below) falls between 10 and 19, 260 full-rate employment contributions.
  • A person reaching age 66 between 6 April 2002 and 5 April 2012 (both dates inclusive) must have paid 260 full-rate employment contributions.

Note: There is one exception. Persons who commenced paying high rate voluntary contributions on or before 6 April 1997 will need only 156 full-rate employment contributions paid if the yearly average is 20 or more.

  • A person reaching age 66 on or after 6 April 2012 must have paid 520 full-rate employment contributions, or, if at least 260 full-rate employment contributions are paid, the balance of the 520 can be made up with high rate voluntary contributions

Note: There is one exception. Persons who:

  • commenced paying high rate voluntary contributions on or before 6 April 1997, and
  • have 156 full-rate employment contributions paid, and
  • have a yearly average of 20 contributions or more will satisfy this condition if they can make up the balance of the 520 with high rate voluntary contributions.

Insurance prior to 1953 - National Health Insurance contributions paid prior to 1953 are reckonable in order to satisfy the condition of having a certain number of contributions paid. Every 2 such contributions are counted as 3, and any odd contribution is counted as 2.

Third contribution condition - The standard yearly average test

Maximum rate of pension is payable where a person has a "yearly average" of at least 48. The yearly average is the average number of contributions paid and/or credited per year over the period from 1953*, or from the year of starting insurable employment, if later, to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age (66).

A reduced rate pension is payable where a person has a yearly average of between 10 and 47. (See rates structure below)

* See also 'Special State Pension (Contributory) for persons with social insurance contributions paid prior to 1953' below

The alternative contribution test

Maximum rate pension is also payable where a person has an "alternative yearly average" of at least 48. The alternative yearly average is the average number of contributions paid and/or credited over the period from April 1979 to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age (66). The "alternative yearly average" applies only to persons who reached age 66 on or after 6 April 1992.

Pension Age

Pension age is currently 66 years. It was gradually reduced from age 70 to age 66 over the period from 1973 to 1977. Persons born before 1 January 1912 may have a pension age other than 66 used when calculating the yearly average, as follows:

 

Persons born between Pension ages whichmay be used​
​3 Jan 1909 to 31 Dec 1911 ​66 or 67 years
5 Jan 1907 to 2 Jan 1909​ ​66 or 68 years
​1 July 1905 to 4 Jan 1907 ​66 or 69 years
​prior to 1 July 1905 ​66 or 70 years

 

Points to note:

Insurance prior to 1953

Where National Health Insurance contributions have been counted for the first or second condition, the yearly average is counted from the start of the 1953 contribution year - 5 January 1953 in the case of a man, and 6 July 1953 in the case of a woman.

Rounding up:

From July 1992 in calculating the yearly average, a fraction of a whole number consisting of one half or more is rounded up to the nearest whole number e.g. 9.5 is rounded up to 10, 47.5 is rounded up to 48.

Self-employed persons:

  • Class S PRSI is payable by the self-employed. Persons who started paying class S PRSI on 6 April 1988 (the date of introduction of PRSI for the self-employed) will, if it is more advantageous, have entitlement to State Pension (Contributory) based on their PRSI record from that date (even if they had previous social insurance contributions). provided that they satisfy date of entry prior to age 56 on that date.
  • Persons liable for class S PRSI contributions (who have satisfied the other conditions) must, in order to be awarded State Pension (Contributory),
  • have at least one year's class S PRSI contributions paid before reaching pension age, and
  • have any outstanding class S PRSI contribution liability paid.

See also 'Special State Pension (Contributory) for the self-employed' below.

Homemakers

Years spent working in the home from 6 April 1994 caring for a child up to age 12 or caring for an incapacitated person are disregarded in calculating the yearly average (but not the alternative early average) - third condition. Up to a maximum of 20 years may be disregarded in this way.

See 'Homemakers' guideline for more general information.

A PERSON WHO DOES NOT QUALIFY FOR A PENSION AS OUTLINED ABOVE MAY QUALIFY FOR ONE OF THE FOLLOWING PENSIONS:

Special partial State Pension (Contributory)

Prior to 1 April 1974, non-manual employees were not liable for social insurance contributions if their earnings were over a prescribed limit. This limit was abolished on 1 April 1974. Due to the operation of this prescribed earnings limit many people failed to qualify for State Pension (Contributory) because of gaps in their insurance record. This special partial pension was introduced in October 1988 to cater for people in this position.

Qualifying Conditions (the qualifying conditions are as previously outlined, but with some modifications):

To qualify for this pension

  • the first qualifying condition must be fulfilled.
  • the second qualifying condition must also be fulfilled i.e. 156 full-rate contributions must be paid. (See 'Second Contribution Conditions' above re changes in this condition for persons reaching pension age from 6 April 2002 and 6 April 2012)
  • the third condition is altered in that a yearly average of a minimum of only 5 contributions is required.
  • A person must have re-entered full-rate insurable employment on 1 April 1974.

EU or Bilateral Agreement (BA) pro-rata State Pension (Contributory)

If you do not qualify for a standard State Pension (Contributory) from this Department based on your Irish social insurance alone and you have periods of insurance in another EU country or Bilateral Agreement country you may qualify for a pro-rata pension using your combined social insurance records.

This pension is based on a combination of full-rate Irish social insurance contributions and reckonable social insurance in EU countries or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement. The pension is a pro-rata payment based on the proportion of Irish social insurance contributions to the total number of contributions paid and/or credited i.e. Irish and other insurance combined.

Legislation

EU pension scheme is governed by Council Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 and No 574/72, as amended. Bilateral Agreement pensions are governed by formal agreements with the relevant countries which are contained in statutory instruments.

Qualifying Conditions

The qualifying conditions are as previously outlined, but with some modification:

To qualify for this pension

  • the first qualifying condition must be satisfied. However it can be satisfied on Irish social insurance or social insurance in the EU country/countries or a bilateral agreement country.
  • the second qualifying condition is altered in that Irish social insurance contributions and social insurance contributions in the EU country/countries or a bilateral agreement country can be combined for the purpose of satisfying the condition of having 156 contributions paid. However, there must be at least 52 contributions, of which at least one must be paid, in Ireland and in the EU country/countries or the bilateral agreement country.
    (See 'Second Contribution Conditions' above re changes in this condition for persons reaching pension age from 6 April 2002 and 6 April 2012 also apply, except that Irish social insurance contributions and social insurance contributions in the other country can be combined for this purpose.)
  • the third condition is altered to allow full-rate Irish and reckonable social insurance in the EU country/countries or the bilateral agreement country to be combined when calculating the yearly average number of contributions.

General

A person should normally make a claim to pension in the country of residence. A person living in Ireland should therefore apply for pension to the Department of Social Protection. If the claimant indicates that he/she was insured* in an EU country or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Agreement, a claim to pension in that country is made by the Department on the claimant's behalf. The date of claim in Ireland is taken as the date of claim by the other country.

This same procedure applies in reverse if the claim to pension is made in another country but the person has social insurance contributions in Ireland.

* Note: in certain countries, residence alone provides cover for social insurance

Countries covered by EC regulations:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (excluding the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)

Countries with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement:

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, The United States of America, Quebec, Republic of Korea and Switzerland

Note: Ireland has reciprocal agreements with a number of countries. However in most cases these countries are now covered by agreements under EU regulations or Bilateral Agreements. See 'International Services' guideline for more general information.

Pension age

Pension ages in the various countries are as follow
EU Countries Male Female
Austria
65
60
Belguim
60 to 65
60 to 65
Denmark
67
67
Finland
65
65
France
60
60
Germany
65
65
Greece
65
60
Iceland
-
-
Italy
(A 'Seniority Pension' is given after 35 years of contributions, regardless of age)
60
55
Liechtenstein
-
-
Luxemburg
65
65
Norway
67
67
Portugal
65
62
Spain
65
65
Sweden
65
65
The Netherlands
65
65
United Kingdom
65
60

 

Pension Ages in Bilateral Agreement Countries
Countries Male Female
Australia
65
60
Canada
60 to 65
60 to 65
New Zealand
65
65
USA
62 to 65
62 to 65
Quebec
65
65
Switzerland
-
-

Calculation of rate of payment

The rate of pension, where insurance contributions in another country are being combined with Irish contributions, is calculated as follows:

Step 1:

The notional pension is calculated. Notional pension is that which would be payable if all social insurance contributions, both full-rate Irish and non-Irish, were treated as Irish contributions. The full-rate Irish and non-Irish reckonable contributions are therefore added together and the total is then divided by the number of years to get the yearly average number of contributions.

Step 2:

The following formula is then used

(A x B)/C

A = the notional rate of pension i.e. the rate (personal plus increase for a qualified adult, if applicable (see below re. qualified adult)) which would be payable if all social insurance, both full-rate Irish and foreign, was treated as full rate Irish social insurance.

B = the no. of full rate Irish contributions

C = the total no. of contributions (full rate Irish + foreign)

Allowances:

While the increase for a qualified spouse/civil partner/cohabitant and the age 80 allowance are subject to the pro-rata calculation, the other allowances (increase for qualified child, living alone increase and fuel allowance) are payable at the standard domestic rate.

Increase for a Qualified Child is payable in one country only.

Mixed insurance pro-rata State Pension (Contributory)

This pro-rata pension, which was introduced in November 1991, is based on a combination of full and modified rate contributions (see above for an explanation of these categories). Prior to this, many persons who paid a mixture of full and modified rate social insurance contributions did not qualify for pension despite the fact that they paid full-rate contributions for part of their working lives. These persons may now qualify for a pension based on the number of full-rate contributions as a proportion of their total contributions i.e. full and modified rate.

Qualifying Conditions

The qualifying conditions are as previously outlined, but with some modification:

To qualify for this pension

  • the first qualifying condition must be fulfilled.
  • the second qualifying condition must also be fulfilled.
    See (See 'Second Contribution Conditions' above for changes in this condition for persons reaching pension age on or after 6 April 2002 except that there is no saver clause for voluntary contributors. Also, for persons reaching pension age on or after 6 April 2012, 520 contributions must be paid. However the 520 may be made up in either of following ways
  • 520 full-rate employment contributions, or
  • 520 employment contributions of which at least 260 must be full-rate employment contributions. The remainder may be made up with modified rate employment contributions.
  • the third condition is altered to allow full-rate and modified rate contributions to be taken into account when calculating the yearly average number of contributions.
  • a person must have at least 1 modified rate employment contribution

See 'Credits Contributions' guideline for more general information.

Calculation of rate of payment

The rate of pension, where full and modified insurance contributions are combined, is calculated as follows:

Step 1:

The notional pension is calculated. Notional pension is the pension that would be paid if all social insurance contributions, both full and modified rate, were treated as full-rate contributions. The full and modified rate contributions are therefore added together and the total is then divided by the number of years to get the yearly average.

Step 2:

The following formula is then used:

(A x B)/C

A = the notional rate of pension i.e. the rate (personal plus increase for a qualified adult, if applicable) which would be payable if all contributions, both full and modified rate, were treated as full rate contributions.

B = the number of full rate contributions

C = the total number of contributions (full and modified rate)

Allowances:

While the increase for a qualified spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is subject to the pro-rata calculation, other allowances (increase for a qualified child, living alone increase, age 80 allowance and fuel allowance) are payable at the standard rate.

Special State Pension (Contributory) for the self-employed

Social insurance contributions for the self-employed were introduced on 6 April 1988. However many self-employed people had reached the age of 56 by this date and therefore could not qualify for State Pension (Contributory) as they would not satisfy the condition of entering social insurance before age 56.

This pension was introduced for such self-employed people. It was introduced with effect from 9 April 1999, and covers people born between 6 April 1927 and 6 April 1932.

Qualifying Conditions:

To qualify for this pension, a person must have

  • been age 56 or over on 6 April 1988 (that is, born on or before 6 April 1932)
  • started paying social insurance contributions as a self-employed person on or after 6 April 1988
  • a minimum of 260 full-rate social insurance contributions paid on a compulsory basis since first starting to pay social insurance contributions as a self-employed person.

Rate of payment:

Personal rate of pension is payable at half the maximum standard rate. The increase for a qualified spouce/civil partner/cohabitant and the increase for a qualified child allowance are payable at half rate also.

Living Alone Increase, Age 80 Allowance and Fuel Allowance are payable at the standard rate.

Special State Pension (Contributory) for persons with social insurance contributions paid prior to 1953

This pension was introduced with effect from 5 May 2000.

Qualifying Conditions:

To qualify for this pension, a person must have 260 full-rate contributions paid. The 260 can be made up solely of contributions paid prior to 1953 ( *See Note below), or, a mixture of contributions paid before and after 1953.

Note:
In the case of a man, social insurance contributions paid prior to 5/1/53 are regarded as paid prior to 1953; in the case of a woman, social insurance contributions paid prior to 6/7/53 are regarded as paid prior to 1953.

Note: For the purpose of establishing the 260 paid contributions, every 2 contributions paid prior to 1953 is counted as 3, and any odd contribution is counted as 2. However in calculating the rate of the pension payable this "3 for 2" rule only applies to the Irish pre 1953 National Health Insurance contributions and not foreign insurance.

Rate of payment:

Personal rate of pension is payable at half the maximum standard rate. The increase for a qualified spouce/civil partner/cohabitant and the increase for a qualified child allowance are payable at half rate also.

Living Alone Increase, Age 80 Allowance and Fuel Allowance are payable at the standard rate.

EU or Bilateral Agreement (BA) pro-rata State Pension (Contributory) for persons with social insurance contributions paid prior to 1953.

A person who does not qualify for the above pension may qualify for a pro-rata version of it i.e. a pension based on a combination of full-rate Irish social insurance contributions and reckonable social insurance in EU countries or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement.

Qualifying Conditions

The qualifying conditions are as outlined above except that Irish social insurance contributions and social insurance contributions in the EU country/countries or a bilateral agreement country can be combined for the purpose of satisfying the condition of having 260 contributions paid. However, there must be at least 52 contributions paid in Ireland.

Calculation of payment

The rate is calculated by using the following formula:

(A x B)/C

A = the rate that would be payable if the 260 full-rate social insurance contributions paid were all Irish (i.e. half-rate State Pension (Contributory))

B = the no. of full-rate Irish contributions paid

C = the total no. of full-rate contributions paid (i.e. Irish and foreign)

Note: For the purposes of establishing the 260 paid contributions, every 2 contributions paid prior to 1953 is counted as 3, and any odd contribution is counted as 2. However in calculating the rate, this "3 for 2" rule does not apply (i.e. when calculating "B" and "C" above, contributions are counted on a "one for one" basis).

STATE PENSION (NON-CONTRIBUTORY)

If you fail to qualify for a contributory pension based on your insurance record, or, if you only qualify for a reduced rate of payment on the basis of your insurance record, you may apply for State Pension (Non-Contributory) which is based on an assessment of your means. If it is to your advantage you can get paid State Pension (Non-Contributory) instead.

DISQUALIFICATIONS

Late Claims

A person is disqualified for payment of State Pension (Contributory) in respect of any period more than 6 months before the date on which the claim is made. This disqualification also applies to any increase or allowance.

See Part 2 below and 'Claims and Late Claims' guideline for more detail on late claims and other circumstances in which payment of pension may be further backdated.

Imprisonment

A person is disqualified for payment of personal rate of pension while undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody. An increase for a qualified spouce/civil partner/cohabitant (see below re. qualified spouce/civil partner/cohabitant) or an increase for a qualified child can still be paid.

A person is disqualified for receipt of an increase for a qualified spouse/civil partner/cohabitant while the qualified spouce/civil partner/cohabitant  is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.

See Part 3 below and fuller comment re imprisonment in separate guideline on "Payment Related Issues")

PAYMENT RATES STRUCTURE

Payment is made up of a personal rate plus any increase or allowances which may be due.

Personal rate of pension depends on the yearly average number of contributions, as follows:
Contributions Rate of Payment
48 or over
Maximum personal rate is payable
20 - 47
Reduced rates are payable
15 - 19
10 - 14 ( *See note Below)
5 - 9
(special partial pension only)

 

From 1 September 2012 the rate of pension depends on the yearly average number of contributions, as follows:

 

 

Contributions​ Rate of Payment​
48 or over​ ​Maximum personal rate is payable

​40-47

30-39

20-29

15-19

10-14 ( *See note Below)

 

Reduced rates are payable

5-9 ​(special partial pension only)
 

Note:
Half personal rate pension is payable where the yearly average falls in the 10 - 14 bracket. This is also the personal rate applicable to the Special State Pension (Contributory) for the self-employed and the Special State Pension (Contributory) for persons with social insurance contributions paid prior to 1953.

Note: Prior to 5 May 2000 the 20 - 47 yearly average band was divided into three bands, 20 - 23, 24 - 35 and 36 - 47.

See the Rates Booklet - SW 19 which is issued annually for the current rates of payment.

Increases in Pension and Additional Allowances

Age 80 allowance

A higher rate of pension is payable to a pensioner aged 80 or over. The increase is paid automatically - there is no need to apply.

Increase in pension for a Qualified Spouse/ Civil Partner/ Cohabitant

This is payable in resect of a spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant who is being financially maintained and whose income is not greater than a specified limit (currently €310 *See note below).

* Note: Where the spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant's income is not more than €100.00 a week, the full relevant rate of qualified spouse/ civil partner/cohabitant increase is payable. Where the spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant's income is more than €100.00 a week but not more than €310.00 a week, reduced rates of qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant increase are payable.

If the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of a claimant deprives themselves of income or property (including money) in order for the claimant to qualify for an Increase for qualified adult , or improve a weekly rate of payment, that income or property will be included in the means test if transfer of asset/s has taken place on or after 29 November 2011. (This may not apply in the case of a farm transfer)

If the pensioner has children living with him/her and is single, widowed or separated, s/he may qualify for qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant increase for a person who is caring for the child/ren provided that person is living with and being supported by the pensioner.

The qualified spouse/ cvivil partner/ cohabitant rate is increased when the qualified adult reaches age 66.

An increase is payable in respect of one qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant only.

See ' Dependants - Increase for Qualified Spouse/ Civil Partner/ Cohabitant' guideline for more general information.

Increase for a Qualified Child

This is payable in respect of a qualified child who is normally resident with the pensioner. A child is regarded as a dependant up to age 18, or if in full-time education by day at any university, college, school or other educational establishment, up to end of academic year of the year in which the qualified child reaches age 22.

Half rate is payable in certain circumstances i.e. where the child is normally resident with the pensioner and the spouse/ civil partner/ cohanitant but the pensioner does not qualify for an increase for the spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant because the spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant is not regarded as a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant.

From 6th July 2012 a pensioner is not entitled to claim half rate increase for a Qualified Child if their spouse/civil partner/ cohabitant has an income of over €400 per week.

*Note: If a person is getting pension from this country and from an EU country or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Agreement, increase for a qualified child is payable by one country only. It is normally paid by the country in which the pensioner is resident

See 'Dependants - Increase for a Qualified Child' guideline for more general information.

Living alone increase

This is payable if a pensioner is age 66 or over and living alone. (See 'Living Alone Increase' guideline for more general information.)

Fuel allowance

This is payable for a 26 week period from early October to mid April each year. Only one allowance is payable per household. Entitlement depends mainly on the means and the composition of the household.

See 'Fuel Schemes' guideline for more general information.

Increase for Living on a Specified Island

This is payable if a pensioner is age 66 or over and ordinarily resident on one of a list of specified islands off the coast of Ireland (It is paid automatically - there is no need to apply). However, if the customer os not in receipt of State Pension (Contributory) from this Department, but is in receipt of an equivalent Social Security pension from snother EU/BA country, s/he must apply for this increase.

See 'Increase for Living on a Specified Island' guideline for more general information.

After Death Benefits

Where a pensioner dies, payment of pension may continue for six weeks after death in certain circumstances. Notification of date of death should be given to the Department at the earliest possible date. See part 3 below and "Payment Related Issues" guideline for further detail. See also 'Bereavement Grant Guideline' for more general information.

EXTRA BENEFITS

Carer's Allowance: may be payable to a person who provides full-time care and attention to a pensioner who is medically certified as being incapacitated and requiring full-time care and attention. From September 2007, it may be possible to obtain a half rate Carer's Allowance in addition to a State Pension (Contributory) or increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant. See 'Carer's Allowance' guideline for more general information.

Household Benefits

Free Travel: Persons age 66 or over and living in the state are entitled to a Free Travel pass. If a person is awarded State Pension (Contributory), a Free Travel pass is issued automatically.

In certain circumstances a pensioner may also qualify for:

  • Free Electricity/Natural Gas/Bottled Gas Refill Allowance
  • Free Television Licence
  • Free Telephone Rental Allowance

See seperate guideline "Household Benefits Package" for more details..

Other benefits available

  • Medical Card from a relevant Health Service Executuve
  • Rent or mortgage interest subsidy
  • Exceptional Needs Payments
  • Diet Supplement

Application should be made to the Community Welfare Officer in your local Heath Centre.  A means test and other qualifying conditions may apply.

See 'SWA/Basic' guideline for more general information on Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

Overlapping Provisions

Apart from Disablement Pension under the Occupational Injury Benefit Scheme and Child Benefit (see 'Disablement Benefit' and 'Child Benefit' guidelines), State Pension (Contributory) is not payable concurrently with any other Social Welfare payment. However, from September 2007 it possible to receive a half rate Carer's Allowance in addition to a State Pension (Contributory) or increase for a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant.

Where a person is also entitled to another pension or benefit but the rate of payment is less than would be payable as a recipient of State Pension (Contributory), the person may opt to receive payment of State Pension (Contributory) at the higher rate. Where a person would be qualified to be paid as a dependant on another person's Contributory Pension but would have an entitlement to State Pension (Non-Contributory) Pension at a higher rate of payment, s/he may opt for payment of pension at the higher rate.

See 'Overlapping Benefits' guideline for more general information.

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims

Under Social Welfare legislation there is a legal onus on a person to apply to the Department for State Pension (Contributory) if s/he believes they may have such an entitlement. Claim form STP/C1 should be completed in full i.e. all relevant questions answered, the form signed by the claimant and forwarded to the Department with relevant documentation as indicated below.

An acknowledgement showing claim number is issued on receipt of the claim. The claim reference is quoted and the claimant should quote same in any future contact with the Department regarding his/her pension claim.

A person may, depending on financial circumstances, claim Supplementary Welfare Allowance while awaiting a decision on pension entitlement

See seperate 'SWA Guideline' guideline for more general informationfor details of the Supplemantary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

Late Claims

Failure to claim pension at pension age may result in loss of pension payment

From 6th April 2012, late claims for State Pension (Contributiry) may be backdated for a maximum period of 6 months.

Backdating of a late claim beyond 6 months will be considered only in circumstances where the failure to claim arose as a result of:

  1. incorrect information being supplied by the Department or
  2. The claimant's incapacity by illnessor infirmity.

A claim to State Pension (Contributory) should be made three months before reaching age 66, or, if a person worked in an EU country or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement, six months before reaching age 66.

Claims received between 1 January 1997 and the 6th April 2012:

Where a claim to pension is made late i.e. after the age of 66, payment can be backdated up to 12 months from date of receipt of claim provided the relevant qualifying conditions are fulfilled. Further backdating of payment may be made on a proportional basis e.g. a claim made three years late would attract a full 12 months arrears of payment plus a further 47 weeks payment. There are also legislative provisions for payment of arrears where it is shown that

  • the Department gave wrong information
  • claimant was incapacitated
  • there was a 'force majeure'

and that any of the above caused the person to claim pension late. Payment of arrears may also be made in certain circumstances to alleviate hardship caused by current financial difficulties. (See SI 55 of 1998 for full details.)

Claims received before 1 January 1997:

Payment may be backdated up to six months from date of receipt of claim. In addition, extra-statutory backdating of payment may be made on a proportional basis. Further extra-statutory backdating may be made where it is shown that

  • the Department gave wrong information
  • claimant was incapacitated
  • there was a 'force majeure'

and that any of the above caused the person to claim pension late. Payment of arrears may also be made in certain circumstances to alleviate hardship caused by current financial difficulties.

The same provisions apply to claims for any increase or allowance.

See also 'Claims and Late Claims' guideline for fuller details on late claims, proportional payments, and circumstances in which payment of pension or allowances may be further backdated.

Documentation

The claimant is required under Social Welfare legislation to produce certificates, documents, information and evidence as required, including Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, dependant's birth certificate, evidence of means or income of spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant etc.

A Deciding Officer may not be in a position to make a decision on a claim until all requested documentation has been received in the Department.

It is an offence for a claimant to knowingly make a false or misleading statement or to provide documents or information which s/he knows to be false in some respect for the purpose of obtaining or establishing entitlement to pension, or pension at a higher rate. A person found guilty of such an offence could be liable to a fine of €1,269.74 (£1,000) or a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months or both. Any overpayment of pension would also be repayable to the Department.

Examination of Claim

A claimant's insurance contribution record is inspected by a Deciding Officer to establish if the social insurance contribution qualifying conditions are satisfied. If there is entitlement to pension, entitlement to any increases/allowances claimed is also examined.

Insurance contribution records are held by the Central Records Section of the Department. However modified rate social insurance records for periods prior to 1979 for persons employed by Government Departments and semi-State bodies are held by the employer. Foreign social insurance records are held by the Social Security Department in the relevant country.

Where a query arises or where additional information or clarification is needed regarding any aspect of a person's claim, further enquiries are made, usually by correspondence/phone contact with the claimant and/or former employer. Occasionally it may be necessary to ask a Social Welfare Inspector to contact the claimant or a former employer. This would generally arise where there are gaps in a claimant's insurance record.

Decisions

Claims are decided by Deciding Officers appointed by the Minister under Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005. They are independent in the exercise of their function in deciding on entitlement to pension.

A written notification of the decision is issued to the claimant. Where claims are disallowed or allowed at a rate other than the maximum, the claimant is given an explanation of the basis for the decision and also given the right of appeal.

Any decision of a Deciding Officer may be revised if the circumstances so warrant e.g. an increased pension may be awarded where additional contributions are added to the record following investigation.

See 'Decision-Making'  and "Revised Decision" guidelines for more general information.

Appeals

A person who is dissatisfied with the Deciding Officer's decision e.g. refused award of pension or refused an increase for a spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant, may appeal the decision. The appeal should be made by writing to the Chief Appeals Officer, Social Welfare Appeals Office, D'Olier House, Dublin 2, within 21 days of notification of the Deciding Officer's decision, stating the grounds of appeal.

When an appeal is made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, the grounds of appeal are put before the Deciding Officer so that the Deciding Officer may, if it is to the advantage of the claimant, revise the decision if s/he feels that this is necessary having regard to the facts or evidence put forward in the letter of appeal. The claimant will also have the right to appeal the revised decision of the Deciding Officer. (See separate guideline on 'Revised Decisions').

An Appeals Officer can decide on an appeal summarily or may deal with the case by way of an oral hearing.

A statement is prepared on the facts relied upon by the Deciding Officer in the making of a decision on entitlement to pension and on the extent to which the facts and contentions advanced by the appellant are admitted or disputed. This statement is put before the Chief Appeals Officer.

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Payment

Prior to 29 September 2006, if a person reaches the age of 66 on a day other than a Friday then pension is payable from the following Friday i.e. the first Friday following the date of reaching age 66. This also applies to increases in payment of pension. From 29 September 2006, State Pension (Contributory) is payable from the date the person reaches age 66.

Payment Methods

Persons living in the State have the option of having State Pension (Contributory) paid by one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Fund Transfer - payable directly into a Bank, Building Society or An Post Savings Account. Payment in this way has a number of advantages - the payment is lodged to the account on the day of payment; the pension is more accessible through the use of electronic banking and you avoid delays and queuing.
  • Electronic Information Transfer-payable weekly using a Social Services card at a chosen post office.
  • Arrears: any arrears of payment due may be included in the normal method of payment or paid by cheque.

A person may request a change of payment method or to change nominated Post Office, bank, etc by notifying the Department in writing.

Persons living outside the State have the option of having State Pension (Contributory) paid by one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Fund Transfer payable 1 week in advance to a Bank, Building Society or An Post Savings Account in the State.
  • Electronic Fund Transfer to an account outside the State, usually in the currency of the country of residence and payable one week in advance and three weeks in arrears into a relevant financial institution

A person may change nominated account or bank by notifying the Department in writing.

Duration of Payment

State Pension (Contributory) is payable for the lifetime of the pensioner. Any increase/allowances are payable as long as the qualifying conditions continue to be satisfied (provided the person is not disqualified for any reason e.g. imprisonment).

After Death Benefits

Where a person receiving a pension dies or a person for whom they were receiving a qualified spouse/ cicil partner/ cohabitant increase dies, or a spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant in receipt of State Pension (Transition), State Pension (Contributory) or State Pension (Non-Contributory) dies, payment of pension continues for a period of six weeks after death to the qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant or pensioner in certain circumstances. Payments are also made where a qualified child dies.

See "Payment Related Issues" guideline for fuller details of the circumstances in which these payments are made.

Where State Pension (Contributory) was in payment up to the date of death of a pensioner and included a Qualified Adult increase for a spoue/civil partner, Widow/er's/Surviving Civil Partner Contributory Pension is automatically awarded to the spouse/civil partner (this includes a husband or wife divorced from the pensioner, who has not re-married).

Note: Note: this provision does not apply in mixed insurance pro-rata or EU/Bilateral Agreement pro-rata pension cases, and may also not apply in Pre 53 pension cases. In such cases the husband/wife should apply for Widow's Pension in the normal way

Payment of Widow/er's/Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is made following the cessation of the six weeks payment after death.

In cases where six weeks payment after death is not payable, the spouse/civil partner should apply for Widows Contributory Pension.

Bereavement Grant

Bereavement Grant is payable on the death of:

  • a person getting an State Pension (ContributoryP
  • a person in respect of whom a Qualified Spouse/ Civil partner/ Cohabitant or Qualified Child increase is in payment on State Pension (Contributory)

See 'Bereavement Grant Guideline' for more detailed information

Separate Payments

Pension is normally paid directly to the pensioner. However, payment of a proportion of State Pension (Contributory) may be made to the qualified adult spouse/ civil partner/ Cohabitant where it is likely that the amount of pension will not be used for the subsistence of the family unit or where the pensioner or qualified adult is in a hospital or residential home. The payment of pension may be divided equally where the couple are residing together or increase for qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant and increase for a qualified child paid separately where the couple reside apart.

See 'Separate payments' guideline for more general information.

Maintenance

Stop dates are inserted onto the Department's computerised payment system as follows:

  • to ensure that the increase for a qualified child is discontinued when the child ceases to be a dependant i.e. at age 18 or if in full-time education, the date the child ceases full-time education or age 22, whichever is the earliest (if a child reaches the age of 22 during the school year, increase for a qualified child continues to be payable to the end of that school year)
  • A person who is a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant on his/her spouse's State Pension (Transition) or State Pension (Contributory) is issued with a notification three months in advance of reaching pension age. The notification briefly sets out the qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) and State Pension (Non-Contributory) and advises him/her of the option of applying.

Age allowances

Age 80 Allowance: This allowance is included automatically from the pensioner's 80th birthday.

Increase in qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant rate at age 66: This increase is included automatically from the qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant's 66th birthday

Note: if the 80th or 66th birthday falls on a day other than Friday, then the allowance/increase is payable from the Friday following the 80th or 66th birthday.

Lost/Stolen Cheques

See 'Payment Related Issues' guideline re action to be taken when a cheque from the Department is lost or stolen. The Department, the Gardai and the Post Office of payment should be notified immediately of any such loss or theft.

Payment to an agent.

A pensioner who is unable to collect their pension at the post office may nominate another person to collect the payment on his/her behalf.

See also 'Payment Related Issues' guideline for fuller detail in relation to appointment of agent.

Change of Post Office/Bank, Method of Payment or change of address

The Department should be notified as soon as possible in writing. See 'Payment Related Issues' guideline for more detail.

Illness/Hospital Stays

Arrangements may be made for payment of pension where a pensioner is too ill to collect their pension or is detained in hospital. See 'Payment Related Issues' guideline for more details.

Imprisonment

A person is disqualified from receiving State Pension (Contributory), for any period during which he/she is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody. Similarly a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant increase is not payable for any period during which the qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.

There are some exceptions to this disqualification i.e. an increase in respect of a qualified spopuse/ civil partner/ cohabitant and/or qualified child may be paid if the pensioner is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody. See "Imprisonment" and  'Payment Related Issues' guidelines for more detail of circumstances in which pension payment or increases may be made.

See also 'One-Parent Family Payment' which may be payable where a qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant is imprisoned and there are qualified child/ren.

Absence from the State

Payment of pension will be made for periods outside the state, either on a temporary or permanent basis. The Department should be notified of any permanent absence from the State and any absence of more than a few weeks.

See 'Payment Related Issues' guideline for more information.

Certification of ongoing entitlement

There is an onus on a pensioner to notify the Department of any changes in circumstances that may affect entitlement to pension or entitlement to any increase/allowances.

When a pension is awarded, the pensioner is issued with a list of circumstances which must be notified to the Department. The circumstances are as follows:

  • Change of address
  • Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant ceases to live with or be supported by pensioner
  • Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant becomes entitled to a payment from the Department in his/her own right
  • Qualified adult's spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant's income increases or decreases
  • Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant participates in a full-time FÁS non-craft training course
  • Qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant is detained in legal custody
  • Death of qualified spouse/ civil partner/ cohabitant
  • Qualified child ceases to live with or be supported by pensioner
  • Qualified child becomes entitled to a payment in his/her own right from the Department
  • Qualified child age 18 or over ceases full-time education
  • Qualified child is detained in legal custody
  • Death of a qualified child
  • Pensioner ceases to live alone

Note: the death of the pensioner must also be notified immediately to the Department.

Review

A review is initiated when the Department becomes aware of any change in circumstances that may affect entitlement to any increase or allowance in payment. This review may be carried out by way of visit by a Social Welfare Inspector or by direct correspondence or phone contact with the pensioner.

Periodic reviews are also initiated by the Department to confirm that the pension is correctly in payment and that the pensioner continues to fulfil the qualifying conditions for the receipt of any increase or allowances.

Suspension/Revocation

Payment of an increase or allowance on pension will be discontinued if the qualifying conditions are no longer satisfied.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the Deciding Officer may, having established the facts of the case, consider it necessary to write to the pensioner outlining the reasons why it is deemed that s/he no longer appears to satisfy the conditions for receipt of the increase or allowance currently in payment. The pensioner will be given 21 days in which to comment. If new evidence or fresh information is advanced by the pensioner,the Deciding Officer will re-examine the case. If, however, no new information is advanced or that advanced is considered by the Deciding Officer to have no material bearing on the case, the Deciding Officer will make a decision revoking the increase or allowance. There will be a right of appeal against this decision, as referred to already in this guideline.

Also, where initial enquiries with a pensioner, including written communication, fail to establish the facts as required payment of the increase or allowance may be suspended until the relevant information has been provided by the pensioner or a person acting on his/her behalf.

See also 'Decision Making and Natural Justice' guidelines for more general information.

If an overpayment of pension has occurred, it may be recoverable by the Department. See 'Overpayment Recovery' guideline for more detail.

Retention/Destruction of Files

Documents in respect of an application for payment are retained and are not destroyed until the expiration of two complete calendar years after the year of death of the claimant. A random sample of 10% of files due to be so destroyed are retained for archival purposes in accordance with the National Archives Act.

Last modified:21/10/2013