What happens if I was self-employed but I no longer work?

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If you only have Class S PRSI contributions in the last two complete tax years, and you can no longer pay any PRSI because of illness, unemployment or if your income from self-employment falls below a specific amount, you do not qualify for credits. You may choose Voluntary Contributions instead.

If you have also had Class A contributions within the last 2 tax years you may qualify for credits.

What is a Voluntary Contribution?

Voluntary contributions are for people under 66 years of age who are no longer covered by compulsory PRSI. Voluntary contributions are also for people getting a social welfare payment who do not qualify for credits.

In any year, former PAYE employees pay voluntary contributions at a percentage of their preceding years income. There is a minimum and maximum charge. People who were self-employed pay a fixed special rate.

You can qualify for voluntary contributions if you:

  • have at least 468* weeks PRSI paid in either employment or self-employment, and
  • apply within 12 months of the end of the contribution year during which you last made a PRSI contribution or a credited contribution was awarded to you.

If becoming a voluntary contributor on or after 6 April 2015 you must have at least 520 weeks PRSI paid in either employment or self-employment.

Voluntary contributions may maintain your pension entitlements. A combination of voluntary contributions and other paid or credited contributions may help you qualify for a higher rate of pension than you would get otherwise. You should not wait until you are applying for a pension to investigate voluntary contributions, as by that time it may be too late.

If you are no longer making PRSI contributions and do not qualify for credited contributions, you may need to become a voluntary contributor to keep your pension entitlements.

Voluntary contributions do not cover you for short term benefits such as Jobseeker's Benefit, Maternity Benefit, Illness Benefit or Treatment Benefit.

For more information log onto 'www.welfare.ie'

Voluntary Contribution Section
Social Welfare Services Office
Department of Social Protection
Cork Road

LoCall: 1890 690 690 (from the Republic of Ireland only)
+353 1 4715898 (from Northern Ireland or overseas)

Last modified:18/02/2015