What is a means test?

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To qualify for payment, you must satisfy a means test. Your means are any income you have and property (except your own home) or another asset that could bring in money or provide you with an income.

A Social Welfare Inspector may call to you at your home. They will need to ask you for details about items that count as means and may ask you to produce documents such as accounts or bank statements.

What counts as means

The main items that count as means are:

  • cash income,
  • the value of any property you have, (except your own home), and
  • the value of any investments and savings you may have.

Income from a farm of land

We assess as income the yearly value of any gain from owning or leasing a farm. We work out the yearly value by deducting any necessary expenses from your gross income.

Investments and savings

The actual income from investments and money in a savings account is not taken as your means. To work out your means from investments and savings, we add together the following items:

  • cash value of investments and property,
  • money in a savings account, and
  • cash-in-hand or in a current bank account.

We then use the formula in the box below.

Capital Weekly means assessed
First €20,000 Nil
€20,000 - €30,000 €1 per €1,000
€30,000 - €40,000 €2 per €1,000
Over €40,000 €4 per €1,000


A widowed person has €45,000 savings and no other means.
Total Savings €45,000
Minus first €20,000 (disregarded) €20,000
Balance €25,000
Balance of €25,000 is assessed as follows:
€10,000 is assessed at €1 per €1,000 €10.00
€10,000 is assessed at €2 per €1,000 €20.00
€5,000 is assessed at €4 per €1,000 €20.00
Weekly means €50.00
Weekly Widow's or Widower's Non-Contributory Pension €145.50
(January 2011 Rates)

For more information, log on to 'www.welfare.ie'.

What does not count as means?

The following are some of the items that do not count as means:

  • your own home,
  • any payment from this Department,
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance,
  • the first €100 of weekly earnings from employment, but not self employment,
  • a certain amount of income from casual employment by a Health Service Executive (HSE) as a home help,
  • Foster Care Allowance,
  • income from a charity,
  • income from investment or profitable use of property apart from property that is personally used or enjoyed, (property which is let or put to other profitable use is assessed on a capital value basis using the formula above),
  • income from providing accommodation to students studying Irish in Gaeltacht areas under a scheme run by the Minister for the Gaeltacht.

If a person who lives with you is paying you rent, this will not be counted as means if otherwise you would live alone.

Last modified:22/11/2011

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