Exceptional Needs Payments

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Exceptional Needs Payment and Urgent Needs Payment are payments under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. You do not have to meet the habitual residence condition to qualify for either of these payments.

Exceptional Needs Payment

An Exceptional Needs Payment is a single payment to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. For example, the payments can be for special clothing for a person who has a serious illness, bedding or cooking utensils for someone setting up a home for the first time, visiting relatives in hospital or prison, or funeral costs. You can also apply for financial help for clothing for children.

Exceptional Needs Payments are no longer paid for religious ceremonies, mainly communions and confirmations.

Help with funeral costs

You may be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment to help you with the cost of a funeral if your income is low. Each case is decided on its merits by the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local health centre.

Help with fuel bills

You may get help with the cost of your electricity or natural gas bill but only in exceptional circumstances. The Department's representative will make a decision on your case using the Code of Practice on Fuel Debt.

What should I do if I have difficulties paying my energy bills?

The Department of Social Protection has published information on what to do if you are in financial difficulty with your energy bills.

Urgent needs payments

An Urgent Needs Payment may be paid to people in emergency situations. For example, in the case of a fire, flood or other disaster, you may get a payment to help with the immediate cost of food and clothing. Depending on your circumstances, for example, if you are working or when an insurance claim has been settled, you may have to pay some or all of this back at a later date.


Exceptional Needs Payment

You may be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment if:

  • You are living in the State
  • You satisfy a means test

You won't normally be eligible if you are:

  • In full-time work (more than 30 hours a week)
  • In full-time education
  • Involved in a trade dispute or on strike. However, a dependent adult or dependent child of a person on strike can apply.

Urgent Needs Payment

You may get an urgent needs payment no matter what your means, but might have to pay it back at a later date, for example, if you are earning or later get insurance compensation.


The amount of payment you get will depend on a means test and the type of assistance you need.

How to apply

You should apply for funeral assistance before the funeral takes place, however, failing this, you should apply as soon as possible afterwards.

To apply for either an Exceptional or Urgent Needs Payment payment you will need:

  • Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers for yourself, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your children
  • Evidence of any income or social welfare assistance you are getting
You cannot appeal a decision on an Exceptional or Urgent Needs Payment to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. However, you may request that a decision be reviewed by the SWA Review Officer for the office which made the original decision.

Where to apply

You should contact the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local health centre.

Last modified:26/02/2015

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