Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) provides a basic weekly allowance to
eligible people who have little or no income. People with low incomes may also
qualify for a weekly supplement payment under the Supplementary Welfare
Allowance Scheme to meet certain special needs, for example, help with
rent/mortgage interest payments or for urgent or exceptional needs.
If you have no income, you may be entitled to the basic Supplementary
Welfare Allowance. If your weekly income is below the Supplementary Welfare
Allowance rate for your family size, a payment may be made to bring your income
up to the appropriate Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate. If you have claimed
a social welfare benefit or pension but it has not yet been paid and you have
no other income, you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance while you
are waiting for your payment.
Supplementary Welfare Allowance is not a taxable
source of income.
You will normally qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you satisfy
the following conditions:
- You are living in the State.
- You satisfy the means test.
- You have applied for any other benefit or allowance you may be entitled
- You satisfy the habitual residence test, except for an Exceptional Needs
workers and Swiss nationals working here will satisfy the habitual
residence condition. However, people from the EU/EEA or Switzerland who
move to Ireland in search of employment are subject to the habitual
residence test in the normal way while looking for work.
- You have registered for work with your local Employment Services
Office/Intreo office if you are of working age.
You will not normally qualify for basic Supplementary Welfare
Allowance if you are:
- In full-time work, that is, working for more than 30 hours per week*.
- In full-time education.
- Involved in a trade dispute. However, you may claim Supplementary Welfare
Allowance for your dependants.
* This condition does not apply to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant.
However any income they have from work is taken into account in the means test.
The main items taken into account for the means test include:
All cash income: including most social welfare and Health
Service Executive payments, except Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance
and Blind Welfare Allowance. This also includes all financial compensation
except compensation awarded by a court to people who contracted Hepatitis C
through the use of Human Immunoglobulin-Anti-D or through receiving blood
products or blood transfusions in Ireland, the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation
Tribunals, the Residential Institutions Redress Board, or for disability caused
by use of the drug Thalidomide.
From June 2007, Guardian's Payment (Contributory), Guardian's Payment
(Non-Contributory) and the Respite Care Grant are not taken into account in the
means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
Rehabilitative employment: Up to €120 from rehabilitative
employment is disregarded.
The value of any benefit or privilege: If you are
24 years of age or under and and you are living with a parent
or a step-parent in the family home, some of your parents' income will also be
taken into account in the assessment for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. The
Department of Social Protection calls this an assessment of the 'benefit and
privilege' you get from living with your parents. Find
out how benefit and privilege is assessed in the means test.
The value of investments, savings or property (but not the
value of your own home) is calculated as follows:
||Weekly means assessed
||not taken into account
||€1 per €1,000
||€2 per €1,000
||€4 per €1,000
If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting your total income
is added together in the means test.
Repayment of Supplementary Welfare Allowance
In certain circumstances, you may have to repay any assistance you have
received under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. For example:
If Supplementary Welfare Allowance is paid while you are waiting for a
social welfare benefit, assistance or pension, the amount paid will be deducted
from the arrears of your social welfare payment.
If you are paid an Urgent Needs Payment, you may have to pay back all or
part of what you have been paid if you are working or once an insurance claim
The basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is made up of a personal rate for
the applicant and additional amounts for any adult dependant and/or child
dependant(s). A child dependant is a person under the age of 18 who lives with
you and depends on you for financial support. If you have been getting SWA for
at least 27 weeks, the age limit is 22 for a child dependant in full-time
education or up to the end of the academic year after their 22nd birthday.
Supplementary Welfare Allowance rates in 2015
Maximum rate for people aged 26 and over (from 9 January
||Increase for a Qualified
||Increase for a Qualified
Maximum rate for people aged under 26 (from 9 January
||Increase for a Qualified
|18 - 24
Reduced rates of Supplementary Welfare Allowance for claimants under 26
years of age do not apply to:
- People with dependent children
- People aged 22-25 who were getting a higher rate before 9 January
- Certain children leaving HSE care aged 18 or who were in the care of the
HSE during the 12 months before reaching 18 years of age
There are no reductions in rates for existing claimants aged between 18 and
25 who were getting a higher rate before the changes on 9 January 2014. (People
aged 18-21 got €100, people aged 22-24 got €144 and at 25 the full personal
SWA rate was payable.) However their payments will increase in line with the
For example, John turned 22 on 5 January 2014. He has been claiming SWA
since January 2013 and his rate increased from €100 to €144 on 5 January
2014. John can continue to get a rate of €144. If John continues to claim SWA
his rate will increase to €186 on his 26th birthday.
Mary is aged 21 and gets an SWA payment of €100. If Mary continues to
claim SWA her rate will increase to €144 on her 25th birthday and to €186
on her 26th birthday.
How to apply
You should apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance to the Department of
Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare
Officer) as soon as the need arises. You must fill in a Supplementary Welfare Allowance
claim form (pdf). To help process your claim, you should have the
Public Service (PPS) Numbers (formerly RSI numbers) for yourself, your
spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your children
- Proof of residency
- Proof of identity, for example, a passport, driving licence, work permit,
immigration (GNIB) card, etc.
- Evidence of any income you and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant
and children are getting
- A note from your local social welfare office and your last wages slip if
you have just applied for Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance
- Your Child Benefit Book or birth certificates for any children you may be
claiming for if you do not have PPSNs for them
- Documents to show your income and financial situation, such as, pay
slips, P45, P35, P60, bank statements, etc.
Appealing a decision
You have the right to appeal against a decision if you are not satisfied
with the outcome of your claim. You can appeal
to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Social Welfare
Appeals Office deals with appeals relating to basic SWA and SWA supplements but
does not decide on appeals relating to Exceptional or Urgent Needs Payments.
Where to apply
You should contact the Department of Social Protection's representative
(formerly the Community Welfare Officer) at your local