Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension


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Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Index

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

Description of Scheme
Information Leaflet
Legislation
Administration
Qualifying Conditions - Summary
Exception
Qualifying Conditions in Detail
Widow/Widower or Surviving Civil Partner
Annulment
Remarriage or registration of new Civil Partnership
Social Insurance Contribution Conditions
Note for Information
Self-Employed Insurance Contributions
Death Benefit Under the Occupational Injuries Benefits Scheme
Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's who do not qualify for a standard rate Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension Special Partial Pension
EU or Bilateral Agreement (BA) Pro-Rata Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension
Legislation
Contribution Qualifying Conditions General
Calculation of Rate of Payment
Allowances
Disqualifications
Remarriage or registration of new Civil Partnership
Cohabitation
Divorce or dissolution of Civil Partnership
Imprisonment
Late Claims
Payment Rates Structure
Increase for Qualified Child:
Extra Allowances/Benefits
Carer's Allowance
Family Income Supplement
After Death Benefits
Bereavement Grant
Supplementary Welfare Allowance
Free Schemes
Overlapping Provisions

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims
Late Claims
Claims received on or after 6 April 2012
Claims received on or after 1 January 1997 and before 6 April 2012
Claims received before 1 January 1997
Documentation
Examination of Claim
Decisions
Appeals

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Payment Date
Payment Methods
Arrears
Duration of Payment
Claim Maintenance
Age Allowance
Lost/Stolen Cheque action
Payment to an agent
Change of Post Office/Bank, Method of Payment or Change of Address
Absence from the State
Illness/Hospital Stays
Imprisonment
Possible entitlement to State Pension (Contributory)/State Pension (Transitional)
Certification of ongoing entitlement
Review
Suspension/Revocation/Reduction of Payment
Credits
Retention/Destruction of Files


PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

Description of Scheme:

Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is a social insurance based payment which gives Widows and Widowers or Surviving Civil Partners the same contributory pension entitlement on the death of a spouse/civil partner. It is not a means-tested payment and therefore entitlement is not affected by other income a person may have such as earnings, savings or an occupational pension.

The scheme was introduced for widows on 1 January 1936, extended to widowers on 28 October 1994 and extended to surviving civil partners from 1st January 2011.

Information Leaflet

Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension - SW 25

Legislation

The main provisions relating to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension are contained in Chapter 18 of Part 2 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 as amended, and in Chapter 10 of Part II of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2007, (Statutory Instrument 142 of 2007)

Administration

The scheme is administered by Social Welfare Services, College Road, Sligo.

Qualifying Conditions - Summary

A person must:

  • be widowed or a surviving civil partner or
  • divorced from late spouse prior to spouse's death and not remarried
  • have had their civil partnership dissolved and have not registered a new civil partnership
  1. and
  • not be cohabiting as a couple
  1. and
  • satisfy social insurance contribution conditions

Exception

The social insurance contribution conditions are not applicable in certain cases where the late spouse/civil partner was in receipt of either a State Pension (Transition) or State Pension (Contributory) awarded under certain legislative provisions which included an increase for a qualified adult [ or would have included such an increase but for the fact that the qualified adult was in receipt of State Pension (Non Contributory), Blind Pension or Carer's Allowance]. Entitlement to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension is automatic in such circumstances, provided all other qualifying conditions are satisfied.

Qualifying Conditions in Detail

Widow, Widower or Surviving Civil Partner

Where a person has been married, or registered as a civil partner more than once, the condition of being widowed or a surviving civil partner relates only to the last spouse of the person.

Divorce and Dissolved Civil Partnership

A person who is divorced from late spouse (being a divorce that is recognised as valid in the State)or has obtained a dissolution of civil partnership and has not remarried or registered as a civil partner with another person, will qualify for pension, provided all other qualifying conditions are satisfied. The provision enabling divorced persons to qualify for pension is contained in Section 12 of Social Welfare No 2 Act 1995, which was introduced by virtue of S.I. 194/97, with effect from 21 April 1997.

In the case of applicants who obtained a divorce, a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable to a person who is legally divorced from his/her former spouse (i.e. a divorce that is recognised as valid in the State), for any period prior to 21 April 1997.

In the case of applicants granted a dissolution of a civil partnership, a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable to any person whose civil partnership was dissolved (i.e., a dissolution that is recognised in the State), for any period prior to 1st January 2011.

Annulment

Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable to a person whose marriage or civil partnership has been annulled in civil law by the State. Where a State annulment has occurred, the marriage/civil partnership is deemed never to have taken place.

Note: A church annulment does not affect the status of a widow/er for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension purposes, as the marriage has not in effect been legally dissolved.

Remarriage / Registration of new Civil Partnership

Where a person in receipt of a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension remarries or enters into a new civil partnership, payment of pension ceases from date of remarriage or date of registration of new civil partnership. If the second spouse / civil partner dies, entitlement to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory pension is based on the social insurance record of the last spouse / civil partner or the claimant. However, if no entitlement is established or established at a lower personal rate than was payable prior to remarriage or entry into new civil partnership, the rate which was payable prior to remarriage or entry into new civil partnership will be paid.

Social Insurance Contribution Conditions

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension may be based on the social insurance record of either the claimant or late spouse / late civil partner. The two records cannot be combined to give entitlement. All contributions must have been made before the death of the spouse/civil partner.

PRSI contribution classes A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, P, N and S are reckonable for this pension. Voluntary contributions also count.

The contribution conditions of whichever social insurance record is being used, are as follows:

  1. 260 weeks of employment or self-employment contributions paid to date of death of spouse/civil partner or before pension age (currently age 66 years), whichever is earlier and
  2. have a yearly average of either
    •   39 paid or credited social insurance contributions in the 3 or 5 tax years before the death of the spouse/civil partner or before they reach pension age (this is called the Short Yearly Average). This gives entitlement to a maximum rate pension.
    1. or
    •   at least 24 paid or credited social insurance contributions from the year of first entry into social insurance until either the year of death of the spouse/civil partner or the year they reached pension age, whichever is earlier (this is called the Long Yearly Average). This gives entitlement to a minimum rate of pension.

NOTE

  • If less than 4 years have elapsed from date of re-entry into insurance insurable employment on 1 April 1974 or 6 April 1988 and the relevant time (pension age or date of spouse's/civil partner's death, if earlier), and the 260 paid contribution condition is satisfied on earlier insurance, the yearly average condition does not apply.
  • In certain circumstances, where a person has paid insurance before 1953 and re-enters insurable employment after 1953, the pre 1953 date of entry into insurance may be used to satisfy the 260 paid contribution condition, and the post 1953 date of entry into insurance may be used to satisfy the yearly average condition.
  • In cases where the date of death of spouse or civil partner is before 27th December 2013, only 156 weeks of employment or self-employment contributions are required to satisfy condition a. above

Additional Information on reckonable contributions

The following contributions are reckonable for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension:

  • Insurance prior to 1936: Social Insurance contributions paid under the National Health Insurance Acts before 1936 - used to satisfy the 260 paid contributions condition only.
  • Insurance prior to 1953: Social Insurance contributions paid and credited under the Widow's and Orphan's Pensions Act 1935 to 1952. Every two contributions prior to 1953 are counted as three contributions, and any odd contribution is counted as two.
  • Insurance contributions between 1953 and 1979: Most contribution classes paid in this period, including those paid for permanent and pensionable civil and public servants.
  • From April 1979: PRSI contributions classes A,E,F,G, H N and S as well as Classes B, C and D paid by permanent Civil and Public Servants. ( PRSI was introduced in April 1979)
  • Voluntary Contributions: Contributions payable on a voluntary basis - yearly averaging purposes only
  • Credits: Credits are reckonable for yearly averaging purposes only. Credited contributions are awarded by the Department in certain circumstances, generally in respect of periods of unemployment and illness.

See separate guideline "PRSI Voluntary Cons/Med Certs" on voluntary contributions and separate guideline "Credits Award" on credits.

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 rounded up to 20, 47.5 rounded up to 48 etc.

Self-Employed Insurance Contributions

Persons who started paying Class S PRSI contributions on 6 April 1988 (the date of introduction of PRSI for the self-employed) will, if it is more advantageous, have entitlement toA Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension based on the social insurance record from that date (even if there are employment contributions paid prior to that date).

Persons liable for Class S PRSI must have at least one year's Class S PRSI paid before reaching pension age or date on which spouse/civil partner died, if earlier, and all outstanding Class S PRSI liabilities must be discharged before a pension is paid.

Death Benefit under the Occupational Injuries Benefits Scheme

If a person's spouse/civil patner died as a result of an accident at work or from an occupational disease there is a separate pension payable. This is a Death Benefit which is payable at a higher rate than the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension. However, both are not paid concurrently.

See separate guideline "Occupational Injuries Benefit – Death Benefit" for more details.

Widows, Widowers or Surviving Civil Partners who do not qualify for a Standard Rate Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension

Special Partial Pension

Prior to 1 April 1974, non-manual employees were not liable for payment of social insurance contributions where their salary was in excess of a prescribed limit. As a result, many people failed to qualify for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension because of gaps in their insurance record. The salary limit was abolished on 1 April 1974.

Where a Widow, Widower or Surviving Civil Partner or late spouse/civil partner paid social insurance contributions early in their career and resumed paying social insurance contributions on 1 April 1974 and the contribution average is too low to qualify him/her for a standard pension, the person may qualify for a partial Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension based on a reduced average of at least 5 contributions a year.

This Special Partial Pension was introduced on 14 October 1988.

The qualifying conditions for payment of this pension are as set out above in relation to standard rate pension, with the exception that a partial pension is paid where the average of contributions paid/credited falls between 5 and 23.

EU or Bilateral Agreement (BA) Pro-Rata Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension

This pension is based on a combination of Irish social insurance contributions and reckonable social insurance in countries covered by EU Regulations or countries with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement. The pension is a pro-rata payment based on the proportion of Irish social insurance contributions to the total number of contributions paid and/or credited i.e. Irish and other insurance combined.

Legislation

EU pension scheme is governed by Council Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 and No 574/72, as amended. Bilateral Agreement pensions are governed by formal agreements with the relevant countries which are contained in statutory instruments.

Contribution Qualifying Conditions

The Irish/foreign insurance record of either the Widow, Widower or Surviving Civil Partner or the late spouse/civil partner may be used, as follows:

  • a minimum of 52 weeks Irish social insurance contributions must be paid or credited, provided there is a minimum of 1 paid contribution
  • 260 weeks social insurance contributions paid to date pension age was reached or to date late spouse/civil partner died, if earlier. This condition can be satisfied on Irish or foreign insurance, or on a combination of both.
  1. AND
  • a minimum of 39 weeks social insurance contributions paid or credited in the 3 or 5 tax years before the death of the spouse/civil partner or before they reach pension age if earlier
  1. or 
  • a minimum yearly average of 24 weeks social insurance contributions paid or credited since starting work, up to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age or the date spouse/civil partner died, if earlier. Again this condition can be satisfied on a combination of both Irish and foreign insurance contributions.

Countries covered by EU Regulations and Bilateral Agreements are:

  • Austria
  • Greece
  • Cyprus
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Belgium
  • Iceland
  • Portugal
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • Spain
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Sweden
  • France
  • Liechtenstein
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • United Kingdom (excluding the Isle of Man)
  • Channel Islands
  • Australia
  • The United States
  • Canada
  • Quebec
  • New Zealand
  • Switzerland
  • Bulgaria
  • Romania
  • Republic of Korea

General

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 s/he was insured* in an EU country or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Agreement, a claim to pension in that country is made by the Department on the claimant's behalf. The date of claim in Ireland is taken as the date of claim by the other country. This same procedure applies in reverse if the claim to pension is made in another country but the person has social insurance contributions in Ireland.

* Note: in certain countries, residence alone provides cover for social insurance

Calculation of Rate of Payment

The rate of pension, where insurance contributions in another country are being combined with Irish contributions, is calculated as follows:

Step 1:

The notional pension is calculated. Notional pension is that which would be payable if all social insurance contributions, both Irish and non-Irish, were treated as Irish contributions. The Irish and non-Irish reckonable contributions are added together and the total is then divided by the number of years to get the yearly average number of contributions.

Step 2:

The following formula applied is as follows:

(A x B)/C

A = the notional rate of pension i.e. personal rate which would be payable if all social insurance, both Irish and foreign, was treated as reckonable Irish social insurance.

B = the no. of Irish contributions

C = the total no. of contributions ( Irish + foreign)

Allowances

The age 80 and over 66 allowance is subject to the pro-rata calculation, the other allowances (qualified child increase, living alone allowance and fuel allowance) are payable at the standard rate. Qualified child increase is payable in one country only - see below re qualified child increase.

Disqualifications

Remarriage or Registration of new Civil Partnership

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable after a person remarries or enters into a new civil partnership. However, a person who ceased to be entitled to a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension because of remarriage or entering into a new civil partnership and is subsequently widowed or becomes a surviving civil partner, is entitled to a pension at the rate which would have been payable had s/he not remarried or entered into a subsequent civil partnership, unless his/her current entitlement based on the normal criteria would be greater.

Cohabitation

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable while a person cohabits i.e. lives with someone as a couple. See separate guideline on "Cohabitation".

Divorce or Dissolution of a Civil Partnership

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable to a person who is legally divorced from their former spouse (i.e. a divorce that is recognised as valid in the State), for any period prior to 21 April 1997. Subsequent to this date a divorced person has entitlement to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension provided they have not remarried or cohabit with another person as a couple.

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable to a person whose civil partnership is dissolved (i.e. a dissolution that is recognised as valid in the State), for any period prior to 1st January 2011. Subsequent to this date a person whose Civil Partnership is dissolved has entitlement to a Widow, Widower or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension provided they have not entered a new Civil partnership or are not cohabiting with another person as a couple.

Imprisonment

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable while a person is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment, or detention in legal custody. An increase in respect of qualified child/ren may be made to another person.

Payment of pension may resume when the person is released from imprisonment provided they continue to satisfy the qualifying conditions.

See Part 3 below and separate guideline "Payment Methods" for more detail on payment arrangements while imprisoned.

Late Claims

A claim to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension should be made within three months of the date of entitlement i.e. date of death of spouse / civil partner. A person is disqualified from receiving payment for any period more than 6 months before the date on which the claim is made. This also applies to making a claim for any increase in payment or allowance.

See Part 2 below and separate guideline "Claims and Late Claims" for more detail on circumstances where payment may be backdated further.

Payments Rates Structure

Personal rate: Personal rate of pension depends on the yearly average number of contributions, as follows:

48 or over - Maximum personal rate is payable.

36 - 47 - Reduced rates are payable
24 - 35 - Reduced rates are payable

18 - 23 - Special partial pension only
12 - 17 - Special partial pension only
5 - 11 - Special partial pension only

Note: A yearly average of 39 contributions paid or credited over the 3 or 5 years, prior to date of death of spouse / civil partner or pension age, whichever is the earlier, gives entitlement to the maximum rate of pension.

See the Rates Booklet SW 19 which is issued annually for the current rates of payment.

Increase for Qualified Child

An increase in pension is payable in respect of each qualified child who normally resides with the pensioner. A child is regarded as a qualified up to age 18, or if in full-time education by day at any university, college, school or other educational establishment, up to end of academic year (June) of the year in which the qualified child reaches age 22.

*Note: If a person is getting a pension from this country and also from an EU country or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Agreement, qualified child increase is payable by one country only. It is normally paid by the country in which the pensioner is resident

See separate guideline "Child Dependants" for more detail on increases in respect of dependent children.

Extra Allowances/Benefits

A person in receipt of a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension may be entitled to the following benefits/allowances:

Living Alone Increase: A living alone increase is a weekly payment which is paid to people who are aged 66 or over and living alone.

See separate guideline "Living Alone Increase" for more detail.

Increase for living on a Specified Island: This is payable if a pensioner is age 66 or over and ordinarily resident on one of a list of specified islands off the coast of Ireland (It is paid automatically - there is no need to apply)

See separate guideline "Increase for Living on a Specified Island " for more general information.

Fuel Allowance: A fuel allowance is payable over the winter months (check current entitlement dates), to assist pensioners with heating costs. It is subject to certain conditions including that a person lives alone or only with certain specified persons and that the household satisfies a means test. Only one allowance is payable per household. A person must apply for the allowance.

See separate guideline "National and Smokeless Fuel Schemes" for more detail on Fuel Allowance

Over 80 Allowance: An additional allowance is payable on reaching age 80 - there is no need to apply for this allowance as it is paid automatically.

Over 66 Allowance: An additional allowance is payable on reaching age 66 - there is no need to apply for this allowance as it is paid automatically.

Carer's Allowance

From September 2007, it may be possible to obtain a half rate Carer's Allowance in addition to a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension. If you need full time care and attention, the person looking after you may qualify for a Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit.

See separate guideline "Carer's Allowance" and "Carer's Benefit" for more detail.

Family Income Supplement

This supplement is payable to persons working for an employer and on low income. Certain conditions apply in relation to hours of work, duration of employment. A means test also applies and Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension is assessable as means.

After Death Benefits

Payment of an increase in respect of a deceased child may continue for six weeks after death in certain circumstances. Notification of date of death should be given to the Department as the earliest possible date.

See Part 3 below and separate guideline "Payment Methods" for more details.

Bereavement Grant

A Bereavement grant is also payable on the death of a person who is in receipt of a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension. A bereavement grant is also payable in respect of a qualified child in respect of whom an increase in such pension is payable.

See also separate guideline "Bereavement Grant" for more details.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

A person may qualify for additional payments under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme from the Health Service Executive, e.g. Rent or Mortgage Interest Subsidy, Diet Supplement, Exceptional Needs Payments, Medical Card etc.

See separate guideline "Supplementary Welfare Allowance" for more details.

Free Schemes

Free Travel: Persons age 66 or over and living in the State are entitled to a Free Travel pass. Where a person aged 66 or over qualifies for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, a Free Travel pass is issued automatically by the Department.

A person aged 60 to 65 in receipt of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension and whose late spouse / civil partner held a Free Travel Pass prior to death, may qualify for a Free Travel Pass provided the parties were residing permanently together. Application should be made for this pass.

In certain circumstances a pensioner may also qualify for:

  • Free Electricity/Natural Gas/Bottled Gas Refill Allowance
  • Free Television Licence
  • Free Telephone Rental Allowance

A person aged 60 to 65 in receipt of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension and whose late spouse / civil partner was in receipt of any of the free schemes listed above, prior to death, may qualify for these allowances. Application should be made for the appropriate allowances.

A person transferring from Invalidity Pension to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension will continue to benefit from any of the above allowances to which s/he was entitled while receiving Invalidity Pension.

For more details see separate guidelines on "Household Benefits Package" and "Free Travel".

Overlapping Provisions

Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is not payable in addition to other social welfare payments (other than Child Benefit), except in the following circumstances:

  1. A person may receive Guardian's Payment (Contributory) or Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) in addition to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension.
  2. A person in receipt of the maximum rate of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension may receive half the personal rate of the following payments provided the conditions for receipt of such payment are satisfied:
    •   Jobseeker's Benefit (for up to 15 months)
    •   Illness Benefit (for up to 15 months)
    •   Occupational Injury Benefit
    •   Health and Safety Benefit
    •   Adoptive Benefit (for up to 24 weeks)
    •   Maternity Benefit (for up to 26 weeks)
    •   Incapacity Supplement (for up to 15 months)
  3. Where a person is in receipt of a reduced rate Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, s/he may also be paid one of the above benefits, provided that the total payment does not exceed the sum of the maximum rate of Widow/er's Contributory Pension combined with half the personal rate of the benefit concerned.

    From February 2012, if a person becomes eligible for Illness Benefit from 1st February, Jobseekers Benefit from 2nd February or Incapacity Supplement from 3rd February, s/he can only receive the equivalent rate of one Social Welfare payment. S/he will not qualify for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension (WSCPCP) and half rate payment from the other scheme. However the concurrent payment of WSCPCP with Health and Safety Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and Maternity Benefit continues.

  4. Family Income Supplement may be payable to employed persons on low income in addition to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension. However the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is assessable as means.
  5. Blind Pension Where a person is in receipt of Blind Pension and Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, the following benefits are not payable:
    •   Jobseeker's Benefit
    •   Illness Benefit
    •   Occupational Injury Benefit
    •   Health and Safety Benefit
    •   Adoptive Benefit
    •   Maternity Benefit
    •   Incapacity Supplement
  6. Disablement Benefit at the personal rate is payable in addition to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension.
  7. A person who was in receipt of Invalidity Pension prior to the 1st February 2012 and satisfies the conditions for a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, may receive half the personal rate of Illness Benefit to which s/he is entitled, for a period not exceeding 390 days, instead of Invalidity Pension. This is paid in addition to the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension.

Note: A person will also retain any Household benefit entitlement which s/he held while in receipt of Invalidity Pension.

See separate guideline "Overlapping Payments" for more details.

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims

A person must apply to the Department for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, if s/he believes they may have such an entitlement. The claim form WCP 1, is available from your local Post Office, local Social Welfare Office or from Social Welfare Services, College Road Sligo. This form should be completed in full and signed by the claimant in all cases. Where the claimant is not able to sign the claim form, her/his mark instead of signature must be witnessed. When completed, please send the WCP 1 along with all the necessary supporting documentation to the Social Welfare Services, College Road, Sligo. Telephone (Locall) 1890 500 000.

The claimant should forward relevant documentation to the Department, as indicated below, with signed claim form. However this documentation may be forwarded to the Department, after the initial claim is made, if not immediately availabble. This may cause some delay in the claim process.

An acknowledgement is issued by the Department, on receipt of the claim. The claim reference is quoted and the claimant is asked to quote this number in any future contact with the Department regarding his/her Widows, Widowers or Surviving Civil Partners Contributory Pension.

A person may, depending on financial circumstances, claim Supplementary Welfare Allowance, while awaiting a decision on pension entitlement.

Where a person is in receipt of Back to Work Allowance and becomes widowed or his/her civil partner dies, personal rate Back to Work Allowance and Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension are payable concurrently.

Late Claims

A claim to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension (WSCPCP) should be made within three months of date of entitlement i.e. date of death of spouse / civil partner.
Failure to claim may result in loss of pension payment.

Claims received on or after 6 April 2012

Legislation allows for the backdating of claims. Where a WSCPCP claim is received on or after 6th April 2012, payment can be backdated up to 6 months from date of receipt of claim provided the relevant qualifying conditions are fulfilled. There are also legislative provisions for further backdating where it is shown that

  • the Department gave false or misleading information
  • the claimant was incapacitated by illness or infirmity

and that any of these reasons caused the applicant to claim the pension late.

Claims received between 1 January 1997 and 5 April 2012

Legislation allows for the backdating of claims received on or after 1st January 1997. Where a claim to pension is made late, payment can be backdated up to 12 months from date of receipt of claim provided the relevant qualifying conditions are fulfilled. Further backdating of payment may be made on a proportional basis e.g. a claim made three years late would attract a full 12 months arrears of payment plus a further 47 weeks payment. There are also legislative provisions for further backdating where it is shown that

  • the Department gave false or misleading information
  • claimant was incapacitated by illness or infirmity
  • there was a 'force majeure'

and that any of the above reasons caused the person to claim pension late. Payment of arrears may also be made in certain circumstances to alleviate hardship caused by current financial difficulties.

Claims received before 1 January 1997

Extra statutory provisions allow for backdating of late claims received before 1st January 1997. Where a claim to pension is made late, payment can be backdated for up to six months from the date of receipt of the claim provided that the relevant qualifying conditions are fulfilled. Further backdating may be made on a proportional basis e.g. a claim made three years late would attract a full 6 months arrears of payment plus a further 27 weeks payment.

Provisions also allow for further arrears where it is shown that

  • the Department gave false or misleading information
  • claimant was incapacitated by illness or infirmity
  • there was a 'force majeure'

and that any of the above reasons caused the person to claim late. Payment can also be made in certain circumstances to alleviate current financial hardship.

The same provisions apply to claims for any increase or allowance.

See also separate guideline "Claims and Late Claims" for fuller details on late claims, proportional payments, and circumstances in which payment of pension or allowances may be further backdated. Separate guideline "Payment Methods" also gives details on circumstances in which payments may be made for claims received before 1 January 1997.

Documentation

A person claiming Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is responsible for the production of certificates, documents, information and evidence as required, including Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Registration of Civil Partnership, spouse's / civil partner's Birth and Death Certificates, etc where required. A claim cannot be awarded without confirmation that a person is the legal widow(er) / civil partner or would have been the legal widow(er) / civil partner but for the fact that s/he was divorced or had the civil partnership dissolved and the divorce/dissolution is recognised as valid in the State.

Evidence of births, marriages and deaths which occurred in the State is available to the Department and such certificates are not required to be sent with the application. However, where the birth, marriage, civil partnership or death occurred outside the State, evidence must be provided by sending the relevant certificates.

It is an offence for a person to knowingly make a false or misleading statement or to provide documents or information which s/he knows to be false in some respect for the purpose of obtaining or establishing entitlement to pension, or pension at a higher rate. A person found guilty of such an offence could be liable to a substantial fine or a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months or both. Any overpayment of pension would also be repayable to the Department.

Examination of Claim

A claimant's insurance contribution record is inspected by a Deciding Officer to establish if the social insurance contribution qualifying conditions are satisfied. If there is entitlement to pension, entitlement to any increases/allowances claimed is also examined.

Insurance contribution records are held by the Central Records Section of the Department. However, social insurance records for periods prior to 1979 for persons employed by Government Departments and semi-State bodies are held by the employer. Foreign social insurance records are held by the Social Security Department in the relevant country.

Where a query arises or where additional information or clarification is needed regarding any aspect of a person's claim, further enquiries are made, usually by correspondence/phone contact with the claimant and/or former employer. Occasionally it may be necessary to ask a Social Welfare Inspector to contact the claimant or a former employer. This would generally arise where there are gaps in a claimant's insurance record.

When all the relevant information is obtained the claim is referred to a Deciding Officer for decision.

(See separate guideline "SWI Code of Practice" re Guidelines for Social Welfare Inspectors).

Decisions

Claims are decided by Deciding Officers appointed by the Minister under Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005. They are independent in the exercise of their function in deciding on entitlement to pension.

A written notification of the decision is issued to the claimant. Where claims are disallowed or allowed at a rate other than the maximum, the claimant is given an explanation of the basis for the decision and also given the right of appeal.

Claimants are advised of their right of appeal against a Deciding Officer's decision. The appeal must be lodged within 21 days of the date of notification of the decision on their claim.

Any decision of a Deciding Officer may be subsequently revised by a Deciding Officer in the light of new information or evidence. This could arise where new information is made available as part of an appeal by the claimant. In such circumstances, a Deciding Officer may revise a decision on entitlement, if it is to the advantage of the claimant. There is also a right of appeal against a revised decision.

See separate guidelines "Decision-Making and "Revised Decisions" for fuller details on Decision Making and Revised Decisions.

All award notifications advise the claimant of circumstances which could effect continued entitlement to the payment and request the claimant to advise the Department of any such changes in circumstances.

Any certificates or documents which have been submitted in support of the claim are returned with the decision notification.

Appeals

If a claimant is not satisfied with the decision of a Deciding Officer s/he can appeal directly to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. An Appeals Officer can decide the matter summarily or may deal with the case by way of an oral hearing. An appeal should be lodged within 21 days of receipt of the decision, outlining the grounds for appeal.

When an appeal is made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, the grounds of appeal are put before the Deciding Officer so that the Deciding Officer may, if it is to the advantage of the claimant, revise the decision if this is necessary having regard to the facts or evidence put forward in the letter of appeal.

A statement is prepared on the facts relied on by the Deciding Officer in the making of a decision on entitlement to pension and on the extent to which the facts and contentions advanced by the appellant are admitted or disputed. This statement is put before the Chief Appeals Officer.

See separate guideline " Appeal Submissions" for more detail on the appeals process.

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Payment Date

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is payable weekly in advance. The payment date is Friday irrespective of which day of the week a person's spouse/civil partner dies. This also applies to the payment of increases or allowances.

Payment Methods

Persons living in the State have the option of having Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension paid by one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Fund Transfer: Payable 1 week in advance directly into a Bank, Building Society or An Post Savings Account. Payment in this way has a number of advantages: the payment is lodged to the bank on the day of payment; the pension is more accessible; and you avoid delays and queues.
  • Electronic Information Transfer Payable weekly using a Social Services Card at a chosen Post Office.
  • Arrears: any arrears of payment due may be included in the normal method of payment or paid by cheque.

A person may request a change of payment method or to change nominated Post Office, bank, etc. This can be done by notifying the Department.

Persons living outside the State have the option of having Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension paid by one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Fund Transfer to an account in the State - payable weekly in advance into a Bank, Building Society or An Post Savings Account.
  • Electronic Fund Transfer to an account outside the State, usually in the currency of residence and payable every four weeks (one week in advance and three weeks in arrears) into a relevant financial institution.

A person may change nominated account, bank etc., by notifying the Department.

Note: Persons living outside the State, and already receiving a cheque payment will continue to receive a cheque if they so wish, or they may transfer to Electronic Fund Transfer payment at any time. For persons qualifying for pension for the first time, the Electronic Fund Transfer payment, which was introduced in 1997, is the only payment option available.

Duration of Payment

Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is payable for the lifetime of the pensioner, provided s/he does not remarry / enter into a new civil partnership or cohabit. Any allowances are payable as long as the qualifying conditions continue to be satisfied.

Where a qualified child dies, payment of an increase in respect of that child continues for a period of 6 weeks after death. See separate guideline "Payment Methods" for more details on after death payments.

A Bereavement Grant is also payable. See separate guideline "Bereavement Grants" for further details

Claim Maintenance

Stop dates are inserted onto the Department's computerised payment system to ensure that qualified child increase is discontinued when the child ceases to be a dependant i.e. at age 18 or if in full-time education, the date the child ceases full-time education or age 22, whichever is the earliest (If a child reaches the age of 22 during the school year, qualified child increase continues to be payable to the end of that school year).

Age Allowance

Over age 80 and 66 allowance is included automatically from the Friday following a pensioner's 80th or 66th birthday.

Lost/Stolen/Cheque action

When a cheque from the Department is lost or stolen, it should be reported to the Department immediately. The Gardai should also be notified if the cheque was stolen.

Lost/Stolen EIT card

Lost or Stolen EIT cards should be reported immediately to the Department, and the current EIT card will be cancelled and a replacement issued. The Gardai should also be notified if the card was stolen.

See separate guideline "Payment Methods" re action to be taken when a card or cheques are reported as lost or stolen.

Payment to an agent

A person who is unable to cash his/her payable order book may nominate another person to collect the payment on his/her behalf. See separate guideline "Payment Methods" for more details in relation to appointment of an agent.

Change of Post Office/Bank, Method of Payment or Change of Address

The Department should be notified as soon as possible by telephone or in writing. See separate guideline "Payment Methods" for more details.

Absence from the State

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension is payable outside the State. A person should notify the Department of the date of departure and his/her new address, if the absence is for more than a few weeks duration. If paid by EIT, the Social Services card should be returned to the Department and arrangements will be made to re-issue payment by Electronic Fund Transfer directly to the persons bank account in the State or outside the State, as requested.

See separate guideline "Payment Methods" for more details.

Illness/Hospital Stays

Arrangements may be made for payment of a pension where a person is too ill to attend the Post Office to collect payment, or is in hospital. See separate guideline "Payment Methods" for more details.

Imprisonment

A person is disqualified from receiving Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, including any increases, for any period during which s/he is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.

There is an exception to this disqualification i.e. increase for qualified children may be paid to another person. See separate guideline "Payment Methods" for more detail of circumstances in which payment of increases for qualified children may be made.

Possible entitlement to State Pension (Contributory)/State Pension (Transition)

Where a person has a social insurance record and is paying Class A,E,H,S contributions, s/he may qualify for a State Pension (Transition) at age 65 or an State Pension (Contributory) at age 66, at a higher rate than Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension. [Class S contributions are not reckonable for State Pension (Transition).]

See separate guidelines "State Pension (Transition)" and "State Pension (Contributory)" for more details.

Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension is not paid concurrently with State Pension (Transition) or State Pension (Contributory).

Certification of ongoing entitlement

There is an onus on a person to notify the Department of any changes in circumstances which affect entitlement to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension.

When a pension is awarded, the pensioner is issued with a list of circumstances which could affect continued entitlement to the payment. The person is requested to advise the Department of any such changes in circumstances.

The following are some circumstances and events which may affect a person's entitlement to pension:-

  • Cohabitation with another person
  • Remarriage / Registration of new Civil Partnership
  • Change of address.
  • Change of Post Office.
  • Death of claimant or child dependant
  • A qualified child no longer living or being maintained by claimant.
  • A qualified child who reaches 18 years (or between 18 and 22) and not continuing in full-time education.
  • Imprisonment or detention of claimant or qualified child.
  • Claimant or qualified child leaves the State.
  • Change in household composition including the birth of an additional child

Failure to notify the Department of any of the above events may result in overpayment of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension which may be recoverable by way of lump sum repayment or deductions from pension payment It may equally result in an underpayment of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, e.g. where a qualified child between age 18 and 22 is continuing full-time education and certification of continuing attendance at full-time education has not been sent to the Department. Effective date of payment of any underpayment of pension would normally be decided by reference to legislative and other provisions in relation to late claims - see at Part 2 above.

See separate guideline "Overpayment Recovery" for more detail.

Review

A review is initiated when the Department is notified of any change in circumstances which may affect entitlement. This review may be carried out by way of a visit from a Social Welfare Inspector or by direct correspondence or phone contact with the person.

Periodic reviews are also initiated by the Department to confirm that the pension is correctly in payment, and that the qualifying conditions for receipt of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension continue to be fulfilled.

Suspension/Revocation/Reduction of Payment

Payment of pension or an increase or allowance on pension will be discontinued if the qualifying conditions are no longer satisfied e.g. on the basis of remarriage or new civil partnership or co-habitation with another person as a couple.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the Deciding Officer may, having established the facts of the case, consider it necessary to write to the pensioner outlining the reasons why it is deemed that they no longer appear to satisfy the conditions for receipt of pension, increase or allowance currently in payment. The pensioner will be given 21 days in which to comment. If new evidence or fresh information is advanced by the pensioner, the Deciding Officer will re-examine the case. If, however, no new information is advanced or that advanced is considered by the Deciding Officer to have no material bearing on the case, the Deciding Officer will make a decision revoking the pension, increase or allowance. There will be a right of appeal against this decision, as referred to already in this guideline.

Also, where initial enquiries with a pensioner, including written communication, fail to establish the facts as required, payment of the pension, increase or allowance may be suspended until the relevant information has been provided by the pensioner or a person acting on their behalf.

See also separate guideline "Revised Decisions" for more detail.

If an overpayment of pension has occurred it may be recoverable by the Department. See separate guideline "Overpayment Recovery" for more detail on recovery of overpayments.

Credits

Credited contributions are awarded by the Department in certain circumstances, generally in respect of periods of unemployment and illness.

Credited contributions are not awarded to recipients of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension for periods for which claimants are widows, widowers or surviving cilvil partners alone. However, where a person was in receipt of another Social Welfare benefit, which entitles her/him to credited contributions, immediately before qualifying for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, s/he may continue to receive credits, provided s/he continues to satisfy the conditions of entitlement to the other benefit i.e. by providing evidence of continuing illness or unemployment.

See separate guideline "Credits Award" for more detail on credits.

RETENTION/DESTRUCTION OF FILES

Documents in respect of an application for payment are retained for a period of 28 days and then destroyed in accordance with the National Archives Act. Original certificates (birth, marriage, death etc) are returned to the Customer in all cases

Last modified:22/01/2014