What's a means test?

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A means test is used to assess your means. Any income you or your spouse or partner have, or property or an asset that could provide you with an income is taken into account.

The main items that count as means are:

  • cash income including certain social welfare payments and allowances under the Health Acts; income received as head of the household and the annual net cash value of any non-cash earnings (benefits in kind),
  • the value of investments, capital or property owned but not personally used (see below),
  • the value of any benefit or privilege enjoyed by you,


  • all income and the value of any property that you may have deprived yourself of to qualify for a Rent Allowance.

The following do not count as means:

  • the first €20,000 of savings, investments or property (see below)
  • Child Benefit
  • Family Income Supplement
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Orphan's Contributory Allowance or Orphan's Non-Contributory Pension
  • any money received from the Health Service Executive for a child who is boarded out
  • income from a charity
  • income from casual employment by the Health Service Executive as a home help
  • any of the following increases of payment from this Department or the Health Service Executive:
    • increase for a qualified child or a prescribed relative
    • Living Alone Increase
    • over 80 Allowance
    • Fuel Allowance

If you are not getting a social welfare or Health Service Executive payment, your weekly means are reduced by a certain amount for each qualified child.

A child is regarded as a qualified child if they are under age 18, normally live with you and are maintained by you, or over age 18 and under age 22 if in full-time education by day.

How savings and investments are assessed

We ignore the actual income (such as interest or dividends paid on investments). Instead, we add together the following items and use a formula (see below) to work out your means:

  • cash value of investments, capital and property,
  • money in accounts in financial institutions,


  • cash-in-hand.
Assessing Savings and Investments
Capital: Weekly means assessed:
First €20,000
€20,000 - €30,000
€1 per €1,000
€30,000 - €40,000
€2 per €1,000
Over €40,000
€4 per €1,000

A person has property valued at €38,092.14 and €6,920.07 savings. Their total capital is €45,012.21
Total Capital €45,012.21
First €20,000 Nil
€20,000 to €30,000 assessed @ €1 for every €1,000 €10.00
€30,000 to €40,000 assessed @ €2 for every €1,000 €20.00
€40,000 to €45,012.21 assessed @ €4 for every €1,000 €20.00
Total €50.00
Weekly means from capital €50.00

When calculating the means of a couple, the joint means are taken into account.

Last modified:26/03/2009

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