Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance

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Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people who do not have enough income to meet their needs and those of their families.

Budget 2019:The maximum weekly rate of Supplementary Welfare Allowance will increase by €5. This increase will also apply to people getting an age-related reduced rate. The weekly rate for a qualified adult will increase from €131.40 to €134.70. In addition, the weekly rate for a qualified child will increase by €2.20 from €31.80 to €34 for children under 12 years of age. It will increase by €5.20 from €31.80 to €37 for children aged 12 years and over. These increases will take effect from the week beginning 25 March 2019.


If you have no income, you may be entitled to the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA). 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 basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance while you are waiting for your payment. However, the amount paid while you are waiting will be deducted from the arrears of your social welfare payment.

If you have returned to work, you can claim the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance for up to 30 days while you are waiting for your wages.

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 to.
  • You have registered for work with your local Intreo Centre if you are of working age.
  • You satisfy the habitual residence condition.
  • EU/EEA and Swiss migrant workers who have been working in Ireland can access basic SWA and supplements without having habitual residence assessed, provided they have the right to reside in Ireland. 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 will not normally qualify for basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you are:

  • In full-time work, that is, working for 30 hours or more 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.

Means test

The main items taken into account for the means test include:

All cash income

Most social welfare and Health Service Executive payments are taken into account, except Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Blind Welfare Allowance, Guardian's Payment (Contributory), Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) and the Carer's Support Grant. Payments under the 1916 Bursary Fund from the Department of Education and Skills are also not taken into account.

All financial compensation except compensation awarded to certain people (see 'Further information' below for details of compensation payments.)

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 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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection calls this an assessment of the 'benefit and privilege' you get from living with your parents.

The value of investments, savings or property (but not the value of your own home) is calculated as follows:

Capital Weekly means assessed
First €5,000 not taken into account
Next €10,000 €1 per €1,000
Next €25,000 €2 per €1,000
Balance €4 per €1,000

If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting your total income is added together in the means test.


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 26 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 from 26 March 2019


personal rate

Increase for a
qualified adult

Increase for
a qualified child

Aged 26 and over



Under 12 Years   €34.00

12 years and over €37.00

Aged 25




Aged 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 18-25 who were in the care of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) for any period during the 12 months before reaching 18 years of age

How to apply

You should apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection's Community Welfare Service at your local office 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 following:

  • Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers for yourself, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your children
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of identity, for example, a Public Services Card (if you have one), a passport, driving licence, work permit, immigration (GNIB) card, etc.
  • Evidence of any household income
  • Birth certificates for any children you include in your application
  • 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.

Where to apply

You should contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection's Community Welfare Service at your local office.

Further information

People who have received certain types of compensation do not have that income assessed in the means test for SWA. Compensation from the following sources is not assessed:

  • By various compensation tribunals and the courts for people who have contracted Hepatitis C
  • By the Residential Institutions Redress Board
  • To persons who have disabilities caused by Thalidomide
  • Under the Health (Repayments Scheme) Act 2006
  • Awards paid to women following the publication of the Magdalen Commission Report
  • Payments awarded by the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board
  • Payments awarded under the Symphysiotomy ex Gratia Scheme
  • Payments awarded under the Lourdes Hospital Redress Scheme 2007
  • Payments awarded under the Lourdes Hospital Payment Scheme
  • Payments awarded under the Stardust Victim's Compensation Scheme
  • Ex gratia payments proposed by the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme
  • Payments under the package of support measures set up in 2018 for women diagnosed with cervical cancer since 2008
Last modified:27/05/2019

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