Bilateral Agreements - Guidelines on Application of Bilateral Agreements


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Index

General
Purpose of Agreements
Relationship with EU Regulations
Periods of residence/periods of insurance
Persons Covered
Payments Covered
Extra Benefits
Claims under Bilateral Agreements
Date of Claim
Aggregation of records
Calculation of Pro-rata payment
Additional Benefits
Application of provisions for State Pension (Transition)
Application of provisions for State Pension (Contributory)
Application of provisions for Widow/er's Contributory Pension
Application of provisions for Guardianis Payment (Contributory)
Application of provisions for Invalidity Pensions
Application of Provisions for Bereavement Grant


General

This Guideline gives an overview and the general principles of the bilateral agreements on social security which Ireland has concluded with other countries. For more detail on each, please refer to the Information leaflets or the Statutory Instruments listed below.

 

Currently, there are bilateral social security agreements in place with the following countries:

Country:

Date of Commencement:

Statutory Instrument:

Information Booklet:

Australia

1 April 1992

S.I. No. 84 of 1992

SW 87

Australia (Revised)

1 January 2006

S.I. No. 799 of 2005

SW 87

Austria

1 December 1989

S.I. No. 307 of 1989

SW 79

Canada

1 January 1992

S.I. No. 317 of 1991

SW 84

Japan​ ​1 December 2010 ​S.I. No. 527 of 2010 SW 129

Republic of Korea

1 January 2009

S.I. No. 552 of 2008

SW 125

New Zealand

1 March 1994

S.I. No. 57 of 1994

SW 95

Quebec( see Note 1)

1 October 1994

S.I. No. 120 of 1995

SW 96

The Swiss Confederation

1 July 1999

S.I. No. 206 of 1999

SW 97

The United Kingdom

1 October 2007

S.I. No. 701 of 2007

SW 123

The United States Of America

1 September 1993

S.I. No. 243 of 1993

SW 91

Note 1:
A separate agreement to that which applies in the rest of Canada is in force with Quebec because their social security legislation is different. Throughout this Guideline 'country' should be read as meaning 'province' in the case of Quebec.

Purpose of Agreements

The main purpose of the bilateral agreements on social security is to protect the pension rights of persons who have paid social insurance contributions in Ireland and have reckonable periods in the other country. Reckonable periods in the other country may be periods of insurance or of residence depending on the social security system in that country. The Agreements protect pension rights by allowing reckonable periods in each country to be taken into account in either country in determining entitlement to certain benefits where there would be no entitlement if national legislation only applied.

In addition to protecting pension entitlements, the Agreements contain provisions to determine the correct legislation applicable in situations where double liability for social insurance contributions might exist: e.g. workers who are sent on temporary assignments from Ireland to a country with which we have a bilateral agreement and vice versa. The provisions (which vary in the different agreements) ensure that such persons are subject to the legislation of a single country. For further information on this aspect, see the Guidelines entitled "PRSI Special Collection System".

Relationship with EU Regulations

Ireland has bilateral Agreements with Austria and the United Kingdom who are also members of the EU. Since 1st June 2002 the EU Regulations also apply (with certain modifications) to migrant workers in or from Switzerland.

The bilateral agreements between Ireland and these countries continue to apply where:

  • the provisions of the agreement provide greater assistance to a claimant than EC Social Security Regulations Nos. 1408/71 and 574/72 (as amended)

    And
  • the right to use the bilateral agreement was acquired before the EC provisions applied to Ireland (1/4/73) or the other country. The EC provisions apply to the UK from 1/4/73 and to Austria from 1/1/94

NOTE:
There have been several agreements in place with the UK, dated prior to the entry of Ireland and the UK into the European Union in 1973. These have now been consolidated into the new agreement, which came into force on 1 October 2007, principally covering persons who are not covered by the EU Regulations persons with employment records in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm and Jethou).

Periods of Residence / Periods of Insurance

Australia and New Zealand use periods of residence from age 16 instead of contributions. The agreement with Canada includes periods of residence which count for their Old Age Security pension when contributions were not paid under the Canada Pension Plan. Throughout these guidelines references to "social insurance contributions" or "periods of insurance" should be taken as referring to periods of qualifying residence under the legislation of these countries.

Persons Covered

The Agreements cover migrant workers who have worked in Ireland and in a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement. Persons who have paid social insurance contributions in Ireland and have reckonable periods of social insurance (or residence as the case may be) in the relevant country can have these combined in certain circumstances in order to qualify for certain benefits/pensions. Benefits from the Agreements also extend to dependants and survivors.

Whether a period in another country is reckonable will depend on the social security system of that other country. For instance, Irish self-employment contributions do not provide cover for invalidity pension under Irish legislation. Therefore they would not be reckonable for an equivalent benefit claim in the other country. However, they do count for widow's pension and State Pension (Contributory) in Ireland, and therefore are reckonable under these agreements for equivalent pensions in the other country.

Payments Covered

The Agreements cover the following Irish long-term payments:

  • State Pension (Contributory)
  • State Pension (Transition)
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Widows/Widowers Contributory Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • Bereavement Grant (not included in the bilateral Agreements with Austria, and Switzerland – the EU rules apply in these cases)

The UK Agreement is an exception in this case, also providing cover in respect of the following short term benefits:

  • Illness Benefit
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Jobseeker's Benefit
  • Occupational Injuries Benefit

Extra Benefits

Recipients of Irish and/or social security pensions from any of these countries who are living in Ireland may qualify for the extra benefits available under the Irish Social Security system, subject to satisfying the qualifying conditions. The extra benefits are:

  • Free Travel
  • Fuel Allowance
  • Household Benefits (Electricity/Natural Gas Allowance, Telephone Rental Allowance, Free TV Licence)

Claims under Bilateral Agreements:

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 she or he was insured (or, where relevant, resided ) in a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Agreement, a claim to pension in that country is initiated by the Department contacting the relevant institution on the claimant's behalf. The date of receipt of the claim and all relevant documentation should be transmitted without delay to the institution of the other country. The same procedure applies in reverse if the claim to pension is made in another country but the person has social insurance contributions in Ireland.

Date of claim

Note: The agreements with Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom state simply that the date of receipt of a claim in one country shall be regarded as the date of receipt of claim in the other country.

In the case of the agreements with Australia, Canada, Republic of Korea, Quebec and United States, the provision that the date of receipt of the claim documentation shall be treated as the date of claim for a corresponding benefit claim in the other country is subject to the condition that the applicant provides information indicating that periods of coverage have been completed under the legislation of the other country.

In the event of a late enquiry from one of these latter countries as to the date of receipt of the initial claim in Ireland, the relevant institution should also be advised as to whether there was reference in that claim to the period of employment (or residence, where appropriate) in the other country.

Australia: Note that the provision that a claim for pension in one country will be treated as a claim for pension by the other country was included in the revised Agreement with Australia, effective from 1/1/2006. There was no such provision in the original Agreement with Australia effective prior to that date.

Aggregation of Records:

General Rules:
The provisions regarding aggregation of records apply to all periods that are reckonable under the legislation of either country, whether before or since the bilateral agreement came into force. Each bilateral agreement must be treated separately for this purpose; periods in two countries with which Ireland has an agreement cannot both be aggregated with Irish contributions. In such a case, the entitlement under each agreement is calculated separately and the person will receive the higher rate if an entitlement exists under both.

Overlapping periods (e.g. where paid contributions in the other country coincide with pre-entry credits in the Irish record, or Irish contributions for a posted worker are reckonable as periods of residence in the other country) are only counted once.

The insured person, on whose record the claim is based, must have been insurably employed for at least one week in Ireland for a bilateral agreement to apply and (except in the case of Guardian's Payment (Contributory)) have a minimum of 52 reckonable weeks under Irish legislation.

Paid Contribution Condition:
If the person does not have sufficient contributions paid under Irish legislation to satisfy the paid contribution condition, contributions paid under the legislation of the other country (or periods of residence counted for the purposes of pension in the other country) are taken into consideration.

Yearly average contribution condition:
The rate of entitlement is determined on the basis of contributions paid or credited during the relevant period (see details regarding each scheme in the following sections). Where there are insufficient contributions under Irish legislation, the combined records are counted.

If aggregation is required to satisfy either the paid or the yearly average contribution condition, a pro-rata entitlement is awarded as described below.

Credited contributions:
Credited contributions are awarded for:

  • periods of certified incapacity for work,
  • periods of certified unemployment, and
  • periods when the person is in receipt of one of the following benefits:
  1. Adoptive Benefit
  2. Carer's Allowance
  3. Carer's Benefit
  4. Illness Benefit
  5. Health and Safety Benefit
  6. Invalidity Pension
  7. Maternity Benefit
  8. Occupational Injury Benefit
  9. One-Parent Family Payment
  10. Pre-Retirement Allowance
  11. Prescribed Relative Allowance
  12. State Pension (Transition)
  13. Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance

provided that the person was entitled to reckonable credits at the commencement of the claim.

Where a person has no reckonable contributions paid or credited for two consecutive years, that person is not entitled to the award of credited contributions until 26 qualifying contributions have been paid subsequently deduction from debtor's current social welfare payment;

Note:

  1. The qualifying classes differ from scheme to scheme.
  2. Self-employed contributions do not satisfy the re-entry condition for reckonable credits.
  3. Contributions paid in another EU country may be counted for this purpose.
  4. Credits may also be awarded for periods of proven retirement, incapacity or unemployment under the legislation of the other country.

Pre-entry credits are awarded also from the start of the contribution year up to the date of the first paid employment contribution. These are counted for the yearly average condition in order to include that year in the count without disadvantaging the person. When the Irish record is being aggregated with the record of insurance in a bilateral country, pre-entry credits should only be counted in respect of the year in which the person first entered insurance, regardless of whether that was in Ireland or the other country.

Calculation of Pro-rata payment

Where there are insufficient insurance contributions under Irish legislation to create entitlement, and the pension is being awarded on the basis of the aggregate record, the rate of pension is calculated as follows:

Step 1:

The "notional pension" is calculated. Notional pension is that which would be payable if all reckonable social insurance contributions, both Irish and non-Irish, were treated as Irish contributions. The Irish and non-Irish contributions and reckonable credits are therefore added together and the total is then divided by the total number of years to get the yearly average number of contributions. The "notional pension" is the appropriate personal rate plus increase for qualified adult if applicable, not including child dependent increases, over 80 allowance or living alone allowance.

Step 2: The following formula is then used:

(A x B) / C

A = the notional rate of pension.

B = the number of reckonable Irish contributions.

C = the total number of reckonable contributions (Irish + foreign).

This figure is then rounded up to the nearest partial rate in payment at time of calculation.

Step 3:

All appropriate increases, e.g. child dependent increases, over 80 allowance or living alone allowance, are then added at full rate. (NOTE: the bilateral agreements do not restrict payment of child dependent increases to the country of residence only.)

Example (State Pension (Transition) claim):

Total Irish Contributions   =  600

Total Contributions in bilateral country   =  1200

Total contributions (Irish + Foreign)   =  1800

Number of years   =  35

Yearly average counting foreign contributions = over 48.

Step 1: State Pension (Transition): Personal rate + Qualified Adult (over 66) = €372.10 (2008 rate)

Step 2: Pro rata calculation: (372.10 X 600) / 1800 = €124.00

Step 3: If the person is over 80 years of age, an additional €10.00 is payable, plus €7.70 if living alone.

This figure is then rounded up to the nearest partial rate in payment.

Additional Benefits:

The additional benefits (e.g. fuel allowance and household benefits) are also paid at the standard rate where the person is residing in Ireland. Living alone allowance may also be paid abroad, on completion of the appropriate application.

Application of Provisions for State Pension (Transition):

Qualifying Conditions

The first qualifying condition is that a person must have started paying social insurance employment contributions at full or modified rate before age 55. This can be satisfied on Irish social insurance or social insurance (or residence) in the bilateral agreement country.

Note: Normally the date of starting insurable employment is taken as the date of the first paid employment contribution, regardless of whether it is at full rate or modified rate. However for a person who has a mixture of full and modified rate Irish contributions and paid his/her first full-rate employment contribution before 6 April 1991, the most favourable date of starting insurable employment is taken.

The second qualifying condition states the minimum number of contributions that must be paid. PRSI paid in classes A, E, and H count.

Number of paid employment contributions required:

Age 65:

Before 06/04/2002:

Between 6/4/2002 and 5/4/2012:

On or After 6/4/2012

Employment contributions paid at qualifying rate

156 cons

260 cons

520 cons

Voluntary Contributor at high rate

156 cons

260 cons

260 cons and balance of 520 in VC cons

Voluntary Contributor at high rate before 6/4/1997

156 cons

156 cons

156 cons and balance of 520 in VC cons

Reckonable Irish social insurance contributions and social insurance contributions in a bilateral agreement country can be combined for the purpose of satisfying this condition.

The third qualifying condition stipulates the yearly average number of contributions paid or credited for reduced rate or maximum rate entitlement.

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 (65).

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 (65). The alternative yearly average applies only to persons who reached age 65 on or after 6 April 1992.

A reduced rate pension is payable where a person has a yearly average of between 24 and 47.

Reckonable Irish contributions and credits and social insurance contributions in the bilateral agreement country are aggregated where the yearly average number of contributions is less than 24.

The rate of pension in these cases is calculated according to the pro-rata rules explained in the previous section.

However, if there are less than 52 reckonable Irish contributions paid or credited since the date of entry under Irish legislation, no pension is payable. In the agreements with Australia, Austria, Canada, Republic of Korea, Quebec and UK, (as under EU legislation), where there are less than 52 contributions paid in the other country and a pension is not awarded by that country, the Irish pension is awarded on the sum of the two insurance records without the application of the pro-rata rule.

Points to Note:

Rounding up:
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. 23.5 is rounded up to 24, 47.5 is rounded up to 48

Pension age:
Pension ages in the various countries are as follows:

Pension Age:

Country:

Male:

Female:

Australia ( see note 2

65

63 to 65

Austria

65

60

Canada

60 to 65

60 to 65

New Zealand

65

60

Republic of Korea ( see note 3)

60

60

Quebec

65

60

Switzerland

65

64

UK ( see note 4)

65

60

USA

62 to 65

62 to 65

Note 2: In Australia the State Pension age for women is changing - being 63 years and 6 months, on 1st Jan 2008 rising to 65 on 1st Jan 2014

Note 3:In the Republic of Korea there are currently some exceptions to the general pension age of 60 years (e.g. early retirement at 55).  Between 2013 and 2033 pension age will rise gradually to 65 years.

Note 4: In the UK the State Pension age for women is changing it will rise gradually from age 60 to 65 from 2010 to 2020.

Where periods following retirement in another country prior to age 65 are being taken into consideration, they are counted as periods of reckonable credits.

Application of Provisions for State Pension (Contributory):

Qualifying Conditions:

The first qualifying condition – entry into insurance before reaching age 56 - must be satisfied. However it can be satisfied on Irish social insurance or social insurance (or residence) in a bilateral agreement country

The second qualifying condition states the minimum number of contributions that must be paid. PRSI paid in classes A, E, H and S count.

Number of paid employment contributions required:

Age 65:

Before 06/04/2002:

Between 6/4/2002 and 5/4/2012:

On or After 6/4/2012

Employment contributions paid at qualifying rate

156 cons ( see note 5)

260 cons

520 cons

Voluntary Contributor at high rate

156 cons ( see note 5)

260 cons

260 cons and balance of 520 in VC cons

Voluntary Contributor at high rate before 6/4/1997

156 cons ( see note 5)

156 cons

156 cons and balance of 520 in VC cons

Note 5: 260 must be paid to qualify for a pension if yearly average is less than 20

Reckonable Irish social insurance contributions and social insurance contributions in the bilateral agreement country can be combined for the purpose of satisfying this condition.

The third qualifying condition stipulates the yearly average number of contributions paid or credited for minimum, intermediate and maximum rates of entitlement.

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 ( see note 6), or from the year of starting insurable employment, if later, to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age (66).

Note 6: Special conditions apply for persons with social insurance contributions paid prior to 1953.

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.

Reduced rates of pension are payable where a person has a yearly average of between 10 and 47.

Reckonable Irish contributions and credits, and social insurance contributions in the bilateral agreement country are aggregated where the yearly average number of contributions is less than 10. The rate of pension is calculated according to the pro-rata rules explained in the earlier section whenever entitlement is dependent on aggregation.

However, if there are less than 52 reckonable Irish contributions paid or credited since the date of entry under Irish legislation, no pension is payable. In the agreements with Australia, Austria, Canada, Republic of Korea, Quebec and UK (as under EU legislation), where there are less than 52 contributions paid in the other country and a pension is not awarded by that country, the Irish pension is awarded on the sum of the two insurance records without the application of the pro-rata rule.

Rounding up:
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. 19.5 is rounded up to 20, 47.5 is rounded up to 48.

Application of provisions for Widow/er's Contributory Pension

Contribution Qualifying Conditions:

The insurance record of either the widow/er or the late spouse may be used (but not a combination of both), as follows:

  • Irish contributions at classes A, B, C, D, E, H and S count.
  • Total paid contributions condition: 156 weeks social insurance contributions paid to date pension age was reached or to date late spouse died, if earlier. This condition can be satisfied on Irish or foreign insurance, or on a combination of both.
  • Average contribution condition: a minimum yearly average of 24 weeks (48 weeks for maximum rate) social insurance contributions paid or credited since starting work, up to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age or end of tax year before the date spouse died, if earlier. Alternatively, an average of 39 weeks in the period of 3 years or 5 years up to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age or the date spouse died, if earlier, will also qualify for the maximum rate. Again this condition can be satisfied on a combination of both Irish and foreign insurance contributions.

However, if there are less than 52 reckonable Irish contributions paid or credited since the date of entry under Irish legislation, no pension is payable. In the agreements with Australia, Austria, Canada, Republic of Korea, Quebec and UK, (as under EU legislation), where there are less than 52 contributions paid in the other country and a pension is not awarded by that country, the Irish pension is awarded on the sum of the two insurance records without the application of the pro-rata rule.

Where entitlement requires contributions under both Irish legislation and the legislation of another country, the rate of pension is calculated according to the pro-rata rules set out in the earlier section.

Application of Provisions for Guardian's Payment (Contributory):

For Orphan's Contributory Allowance, only 26 paid contributions are required. Irish contributions at classes A, B, C, D, E, H and S count. The contribution condition may be fulfilled on the record of either parent but not on a combination of the record of both parents.

Where the contribution condition is fulfilled it does not matter where the death of the parents took place, nor where the orphan is residing. (The bilateral agreements do not provide a similar residence condition to that included in the EU Regulations.)

Payment is made at the standard rate - the pro rata calculation does not apply to Guardian's Payment (Contributory).

Application of provisions for Invalidity Pensions

A person must:

  • (A) Have a total of at least 260 weeks contributions paid since entry into insurance; (this total number is reduced to 156 if a person has been getting Illness Benefit continuously since 6 April 1986, or 208 if getting Illness Benefit continuously since 6 April 1987); and
  • (B) Have 48 weeks PRSI paid or credited in the last complete tax year before the date of claim (Governing Contribution Year).

PRSI paid in classes A, E and H count. Credited contributions awarded following payment of contributions in these Classes can be used to satisfy the 48 contributions required in the Governing Contribution Year.

Where a person does not satisfy the contributions conditions on Irish contributions alone, Social Insurance contributions paid in a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Agreement may qualify a person for a Pro Rata Invalidity Pension. The rate of payment is calculated according to the pro-rata rules set out in the earlier section. Foreign contributions paid since 1953 are counted.

However, if there are less than 52 reckonable Irish contributions paid or credited since the date of entry under Irish legislation, no pension is payable. In the agreements with Australia, Austria, Canada, Quebec and UK, (as under EU legislation), where there are less than 52 contributions paid in the other country and a pension is not awarded by that country, the Irish pension is awarded on the sum of the two insurance records without the application of the pro-rata rule.

If the person is residing in Ireland and is entitled to a higher rate of Illness Benefit, that person will be advised accordingly.

Most of the agreements provide that a period of incapacity for work while resident in the other country will be counted as if it was in Ireland for the purpose of determining the period of incapacity. Although this is not stipulated in the Quebec agreement, the general principles of equal treatment should be understood to include this provision.

Application of Provisions for Bereavement Grant:

A Bereavement Grant is payable if the relevant insured person (the deceased or the person entitled to claim) had 156 PRSI contributions paid since entry into insurable employment. Contributions at A, B, C, D, E, H and S count.

Alternatively it is payable if the relevant insured person had at least 26 PRSI contributions paid since entry into insurable employment, and either:

  • 39 PRSI contributions paid or credited in the Relevant Tax Year, or
  • A yearly average of 39 PRSI contributions paid or credited over the 3 or 5 tax years before the death occurred or pension age was reached (age 66 at present) or
  • A yearly average of 26 PRSI contributions paid or credited since 1979 (or since starting work if later) and the end of the tax year before the death occurred or pension age was reached (age 66 at present) or
  • A yearly average of 26 PRSI contributions paid or credited since 1st October 1970 (or since starting work if later) and the end of the tax year before the death occurred or pension age was reached (age 66 at present).

Bereavement grant is paid to the personal representative of the deceased, or the husband or wife of any of the next-of-kin of the deceased, or to any other person claiming to be entitled thereto (normally the person who took care of the funeral arrangement and payment).

The contributions conditions can be satisfied by the combined record under Irish legislation and that in a bilateral country provided that there are a minimum of 52 reckonable contributions paid or credited under Irish legislation. NOTE: the minimum 52 week condition does not apply in the case of Australia.

Bereavement grant is not included in the Austrian or Swiss agreements, and such cases should be considered only under the EU rules.

Where the contribution conditions are satisfied, Bereavement Grant is paid at a flat rate regardless of where the death occurs, and regardless of where the beneficiary lives.


Last modified:07/08/2013
 

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