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Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Entitlement
Description of Scheme
Information Leaflet

Qualifying Conditions
Medical condition
PRSI Contributions condition

Special Categories
Illness Benefit Credits
U.K. Contributions
Pro Rata Invalidity Pensions

Conditions for Receipt of Invalidity Pension
Back to Work
Back to Enterprise Allowance
Back to Education
Late claims

Rates Structure
Extra Benefits Available To Invalidity Pensioners
Overlapping Provisions

Part 2: Claims, Investigation and Decision Procedures
Decisions and Award Procedures
Return of Application Forms
Award of Pension
Pensions under EU Law/Bilateral Agreements
Disallowances and Appeals

Part 3: Procedures Following Award
Payment Method
Pension Payment and Control
Duration of Payment
Irish/UK Contributions and Old Age Pension
Payment after death of pensioner or qualified dependants
Certification of Ongoing Entitlement
Suspension of payment


Description of Scheme

Invalidity Pension is a Pension paid to people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness. It is based on a claimant's social insurance contributions and is not means tested.

Information Leaflet

Invalidity Pension SW 44


The main provisions relating to Invalidity Pension are in

  • Chapter 17 of Part 2 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 as amended, and
  • Chapter 9 of Part II of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2007 (S.I. No. 142 of 2007).


New applications for Pension are dealt with by Invalidity Awards Section.

Payment of awarded Pensions is dealt with by Invalidity Payments Section.

Review of entitlement to the Pension is dealt with by Invalidity Payments Section and Control Section.

All the above Sections are based at Social Welfare Services Office, Ballinalee Road, Longford.

Qualifying Conditions

To qualify for award of Invalidity Pension a claimant must satisfy both PRSI contribution and medical conditions as follows:

Medical condition

A claimant must be regarded as permanently incapable of work, which is defined as:

  • Incapacity for work of such a nature that the likelihood is that the claimant will be incapable of work for life OR
  • an incapacity which has existed for 12 months prior to the date of claim, and where the Deciding Officer or an Appeals Officer is satisfied that the claimant is likely to be unable to work for 1 year from the date of claim.

PRSI Contributions condition

A Claimant must -

  • have a total of at least 260 weeks contributions paid since entry into insurance, and
  • must have 48 weeks PRSI paid or credited in the last complete tax year before the date of claim, (Governing Contribution Year).
    (PRSI paid in classes A, E and H are reckonable).

In addition, where a claimant has no reckonable contributions paid or credited for two consecutive years, that person is not entitled to the payment of Invalidity Pension until 26 qualifying contributions have been paid subsequently.


Social Insurance Contributions paid before the PRSI system commenced in 1979, and also contributions paid before 1953, can be used to make up the 260 contribution minimum above.

Reckonable Credited contributions awarded can be used to satisfy the 48 contributions required in the Governing Contribution Year.

Class J contributions paid prior to 1996 in respect of a Social/Community Employment Scheme also count for the Governing Contribution Year.

If a claimant has been getting Illness Benefit continuously since 6 April 1986, that claimant must have a total of 156 weeks PRSI contributions paid.

If a claimant has been getting Illness Benefit continuously since 6 April 1987, that claimant must have a total of 208 weeks PRSI contributions paid.

(For further information see separate guideline on "Credits Award".)

Special Categories

Illness Benefit Credits

Where a claimant initially -

  • fails to fulfil the conditions for Invalidity Pension (not having the 48 contributions/credits in the last tax year or not regarded as having been incapable for 1 year before the date of claim)
  • and is not entitled to be paid Illness Benefit

s/he may submit weekly sickness certificates for the award of Illness Benefit credits.

These credits can be counted for the purposes of the contribution conditions in respect of a renewed Invalidity Pension claim at a later date, and as evidence of incapacity throughout that period.

U.K. Contributions

Where a claimant has worked and paid insurance contributions in the United Kingdom (UK), but was last insurably employed in Ireland, that claimant may use the UK contributions to make up the total of 260 contributions required, or UK contributions/credits may make up the 48 required for the Governing Contribution Year.

( See below)

Pro Rata Invalidity Pensions

Where a claimant does not satisfy the contributions conditions above, Social Insurance contributions paid in another EU country or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Insurance Agreement can qualify a claimant for a pro-rata Invalidity Pension. This is a partial Pension which will be paid by Ireland in addition to any foreign payment. The amount paid depends on the combined insurance record. Foreign contributions paid since 1953 are counted.

A detailed explanation of pension awards where a combination of contribution from different countries is used is given below:

When a claimant applies for an Invalidity Pension s/he must satisfy the medical and contribution conditions explained above. Under EU Law, social insurance contributions from another EU country may be used to satisfy the contribution conditions. The rate of Invalidity Pension payable under the legislation of most EU States is based on the proportion of contributions paid in that country to that of the total contributions paid. These are known as "Type B countries."

States which pay each qualifying person at the full rate are known as "Type A countries". The country where the incapacity for work followed by Invalidity occurred must pay a full Invalidity pension under that country's own regulations.

Type A Countries Type B Countries


Full disability pension for persons whose total disability arose before reaching 18 years of age and who were not insured for the required period (Section 42 of the Pension Insurance Act No 155/1995 Coll.) From: 28/4/06



National Pensions to persons who are born disabled or become disabled at an early age (the National Pension Act, 568/2007); Invalidity pensions determined according to transitional rules and awarded prior to 1 January 1994 (Act on Enforcement of the National Pensions Act, 569/2007). From 1/5/10

Belgium From 1/5/10


Legislation relating to the agricultural insurance scheme (OGA), under Law No 4169/1961

HUNGARY From 01/01/12 Cyprus


Part 2, Chapter 17 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 1/10/72


For all other pensions not mentioned under Type A

Income-related sickness benefit and activity compensation (Act 1962:381 as amended by Act 2001:489)
From 28/4/06
(a) Great Britain
Sections 30A(5), 40, 41 and 68 of the Contributions and Benefits Act 1992
(b) Northern Ireland
Sections 30A(5), 40, 41 and 68 of the Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992


Claims to be treated as Type B unless informed otherwise by Estonian Authorities If type A then from 1/5/04



For all other pensions not mentioned under Type A



From 1/5/10



For all other pensions not mentioned under Type A



Claims to be treated as Type B unless informed otherwise by Latvian Authorities. If Type A then from 1/5/04

  Netherlands from 1/5/10


Type A from 1/1/07 to 30/4/10

Type B from 1/5/10



From 1/1/08



For all other pensions not mentioned under Type A


Where a claimant has worked in both Ireland and another 'Type A' 'country, the state where the claimant's incapacity for work followed by Invalidity occurred must pay the Invalidity Pension.

When Insurance from a 'Type B' country or a country with whom Ireland has a Bilateral Social Welfare Agreement is used to qualify a claimant for Invalidity Pension, the rate of pension is determined on a Pro-Rata basis. This means that each country pays a partial pension, based on a formula which uses the contribution record from both countries. (See pro-rata calculation under Awards).

Bilateral Agreements: Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Quebec, Austria, UK, Japan, Republic of Korea and Switzerland. (Note: Switzerland was added with effect from 1st July 1999 and a subsequent agreement effective from June 2002 maintained entitlements.)

The minimum requirement is that a claimant must have at least 52 contributions/credits in Ireland with at least one of these a paid contribution.



  1. A claimant may be disqualified from receiving invalidity pension if he or she fails without good cause to:
    1. Attend for medical or other examination at such time or place as may be required by an officer of the Minister, provided that she or he has been given not less than 7 days notice in writing.
    2. Obey any instructions, relating to his or her behaviour or any other matter concerning his her incapacity, of a doctor attending on him or her or to whom he or she has attended for medical or other examination in accordance with paragraph (a)
  2. A claimant in receipt of or entitled to invalidity pension shall not engage in or work whether on his or her own account or on account of another person except as permitted under sub-article (3).
  3. A claimant may, with the prior written permission of an officer of the Minister, for a specified period of time undertake the following types of work or training:
    1. having become permanently incapable of following his or her usual occupation, a course of training with a view to taking up some other occupation.
    2. light work for which no remuneration is or would ordinarily be payable.

Since 1 July 2009 exemptions have not been granted for self-employment, please see Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme.


Any Invalidity claimant who wishes to obtain an exemption, from the condition for receipt of Invalidity “You must not work, either for yourself or anyone else, unless it is work which you are allowed to do under the Department's regulations and for which you must have prior written approval", to participate in a FAS training course or in a CE scheme should contact his or her local FAS Office.

Note: From 16th January 2012, NEW participants on CE are not able to simultaneously claim another social welfare payment while on CE.

Partial Capacity Benefit

From 13th February 2012, persons in receipt of Invalidity Pension are eligible to apply for a Partial Capacity Benefit in place of an Invalidity Pension payment. Partial Capacity Benefit allows claimants to work and receive a social welfare payment based on their capacity to work. (see separate guidelines on "Partial Capacity Benefit")

Back to Work Allowance

Since 1st May 2009, entitlement to participate in the Back to Work Allowance Scheme for persons in receipt of Invalidity Pension will cease.

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

From 1st May 2009, persons in receipt of Invalidity Pension are entitled to apply for a revised Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. The revised scheme will operate for 2 years, at 100% of the rate of payment in year 1 and at 75% of the rate of payment in year 2. The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance will end after 2 years. If, for any reason during the Back to Work period he or she are unable to continue working their Invalidity Pension will be automatically restored. (See separate guidelines on "Back to Work Enterprise Allowance")

Back to Education

From September 2000, a claimant in receipt of Invalidity Pension may qualify for the Back to Education Programme. (See separate guidelines on "Back to Education")


See "Imprisonment" Guideline for details.

Rates Structure

Invalidity Pension is made up of a personal rate for the claimant and increases are payable for qualified adults and children. The increase for a child dependant is payable up to age 22 for a child who is receiving full-time education by day at a recognised school or college.

Note: From July 2012 new applicants spouse's/partner's earnings must be 400 euro or less in order to qualify for a half-rate child increase.

(See separate guideline on "Dependants" for full details re qualified persons)

If a claimant is living alone s/he will also be entitled to a Living Alone Allowance.

An additional allowance is payable if a claimant is ordinarily resident on an island off the coast of Ireland.

The current rates of pension are published in the Information Booklet SW 19.

Extra Benefits Available To Invalidity Claimants

Where an Invalidity Pension is awarded, a Free Travel Pass will be issued automatically. The award of Invalidity is advised via the Department's computer system to Free Schemes Section, Pensions Services Office, Sligo who issue the pass.

In certain cases, a companion pass can also be issued. An application must be made to Free Schemes Section in the Pensions Services Office, Sligo. Medical Certification that the person on Invalidity Pension would need a travelling companion will normally be required.

(See separate guideline on "Free Travel")

Increase for Living on a Specified Island

This allowance is payable if a claimant is 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)

A claimant who does not qualify for an Irish Invalidity Pension and is getting an equivalent payment from another EU country may qualify for the Increase for Living on a Specified Island.

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

A Fuel Allowance may also be payable; see separate guideline on "National Fuel Schemes" for full details.

A claimant may also qualify for extra benefits such as, Electricity/Natural Gas/Bottled Gas Allowances, Free TV License etc.

(See separate guideline on "Free Schemes" for further details).

A Carer's Allowance may also be payable to a person providing full-time care and attention to an Invalidity Pensioner. (However, a person who is awarded a Carer's Allowance will be entitled to half rate Carer's Allowance if they are a Qualified Adult on their spouse's/partner's/cohabitant's Invalidity Pension).

Overlapping Provisions

Disablement Benefit and Medical Care can be claimed concurrently with Invalidity Pension. However, an Incapacity Supplement can not be paid concurrently with Invalidity Pension.

See also separate guideline on "Overlapping Payments".

Note also at "Duration of Payment" re transfer to Retirement or Old Age Contributory Pension.



Claims for Invalidity Pension arise in two ways:

Claimants who are interested in claiming Invalidity Pension may contact Invalidity Awards Section for an application form. (Contact can also be made by another party on that person's behalf). Entitlement to an Invalidity Pension is investigated upon receipt of a completed application form.

(See "Late claims" below, and "Claims and Late Claims" Guideline in relation to provisions for late claims.)

Recipients of Illness Benefit are notified three months prior to expiry of this benefit and are advised of possible entitlement to other Social Protection Scheme’s. Entitlement to Invalidity Pension is determined on receipt of a completed application form.

Decisions And Award Procedures

Claims are decided by Deciding Officers appointed by the Minister for Social Protection, under Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005, as amended.

  1. The insurance contribution record is checked for compliance with the conditions above. Social Welfare Inspectors may be asked to help clear up any questions arising in relation to PRSI contributions.
  2. If the claimant satisfies the PRSI conditions and is not engaged in employment it is established whether the person satisfies the statutory conditions on medical eligibility for award of the Pension. (See above) (In this respect sufficient evidence may already be available to the Deciding Officer in the form of the opinion of the Medical Assessor at previous medical assessments).

Where it is immediately evident that a claimant will not qualify for award of an Invalidity Pension a decision is made to this effect and the person is notified by letter. Each person is advised of his/her right of appeal and/or review by a Deciding Officer.

- Where the medical eligibility still must be determined a diagnostic medical report issues to the claimant for completion by his/her medical doctor who should return this report to the Department . The Departments Medical Advisor can then give his opinion to the Deciding Officer as to whether the claimant satisfies the medical eligibility.

(See separate guideline "Med_Assessment" re Medical Assessment procedures)

Return of Application Forms

(Both (A) and (B) above)

When the application form is returned, it is checked for accuracy and that all necessary certificates are included. Birth, marriage/civil partnership certificates are required only if the claimant, and any dependants for whom an increase is being claimed, were born outside the Republic of Ireland. Certification by schools/colleges that children over 18 who are still in full time education may also be necessary.

In a small number of cases a Social Welfare Inspector will be asked to clarify matters which can not easily be sorted through the post.

Award of Pension

When the deciding officer is satisfied that the conditions are fulfilled, a decision is made to award the pension.

The Department records are checked for overlapping payments and Awards Section liaise with other Sections (e.g. Illness Benefits in Store Street) in order to ensure that such payments do not continue beyond the Invalidity payment start date.

Once a suitable transfer date is arranged the notification of award is issued to the claimant. Once the payment commences on Invalidity Pension, arrears less any outstanding overpayment in the Department issues to the customer as soon as possible. The file is sent to the Payments Section after arrears processing provided there is no Overpayment outstanding to the Department.

Pensions under EU Law/Bilateral Agreements:

Application for Invalidity Pension must always be made through the country of residence. The claim is then transferred to the institution concerned along with medical evidence and details of employment.

Once the insurance contributions made in both states and compliance with the medical criteria has been established, EU and Reciprocal cases broadly follow the procedures shown above. Prior to this the validation of the claimant's insurance and medical case history requires liaison between this Department and the appropriate institution in the foreign state.

In cases where a pro rata pension is being awarded, the following formula is used:

Pro Rata Pension Calculation

The number of Irish Contributions divided by the total of Irish and contributions paid outside Ireland and multiplied by the current personal weekly rate

This figure is then rounded up to the nearest partial rate in payment at time of calculation.


Irish Contributions = 300
Contributions paid outside Ireland = 100
Total Contributions = 400

300 is divided by 400 and multiplied by the weekly personal rate of Invalidity pension (currently €193.50) which equals €145.13 This figure is rounded up to €145.20

Where a qualified adult allowance is also payable this is paid on a pro-rata basis i.e. 300 is divided by 400 and multiplied by the weekly personal rate of Qualified Adult Allowance payable (this is tapered dependent on means). Maximum Qualified Adult Allowance payable is €138.10 so €103.57 rounded to €103.60 would be the amount payable in this example.

Disallowances and Appeals

Where either the Insurance contributions or the medical conditions are not met, or a person is engaged in employment, a disallowance decision is made by the Deciding Officer and a notice is issued to the claimant. The claimant is advised of the right of review and appeal.

Where a claimant appeals on medical grounds, the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) sends a request for a submission from the Deciding Officer, or on his or her behalf showing to what extent the facts and contentions advanced by the appellant are accepted or rejected. If Medical evidence is submitted by the appellant in support of his or her appeal it is reviewed by the Medical Advisor whose opinion is taken into consideration by the Deciding Officer. If following this review, it is still considered that the appellant is unsuitable for an Invalidity Pension a formal submission is made to the Appeals Office by a deciding officer (DO). The case is then forwarded to the Appeal's Office for determination by an Appeals Officer.

Where a claimant appeals on non-medical grounds the grounds of appeal are examined by the deciding officer and any new evidence taken into consideration. If the decision is unchanged a submission on the case is forwarded by a Deciding Officer to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for determination by an Appeals Officer.

Late Claims

Under Social Welfare Law a claimant must make an actual application for Invalidity Pension, in the prescribed manner, within 3 months of the date of first entitlement. (See section 2 of the "Claims and Late Claims" Guideline for details of acceptable forms of claim)

When a claimant provides satisfactory evidence that the conditions for entitlement were fulfilled prior to the date the claim was made, the Deciding Officer or Social Welfare Appeals Officer may backdate the award for a maximum of 6 months, where that officer is satisfied there was good cause for the delay in submitting the claim.

Further backdating of payment may also be possible under the provisions of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2007, (S.I. No. 142 of 2007).

See "Claims and Late Claims" guideline for further information on late claims and all the circumstances in which backdated payments or allowances may be made.

Compensation for Loss of Purchasing Power

Compensation for loss of purchasing power may be paid where there is an inordinate delay, attributable to the Department, in deciding a claim which results in the claimant receiving an amount of arrears that is worth less because of inflation.

See "Claims and Late Claims" guideline for information on the circumstances where compensation for loss of purchasing power is payable and how it is calculated.


Payment Method

At present there are two payment methods available:

  • Direct payment one week in advance by electronic fund transfer (EFT) to the claimant's account, at a bank/building society/post office/credit union.
  • Payment by Electronic Information Transfer (EIT) by means of a "swipe card", payable in advance on Thursdays at a nominated Post Office.
  • (Payment outside the state is mainly by EFT. Claimants living abroad are paid in local currency every four weeks, three weeks in arrears and one in advance.)

Where the claimant is unable to travel to a post office, s/he may nominate a person as an agent, to collect their payment each week.

(See separate guideline on "Payments" for more detail)

Pension Payment And Control


When a claimant transfers from Illness Benefit or any other Social Welfare Payment to Invalidity Pension, the award from date of application and arrears are often payable.

Arrears are not calculated until after the Invalidity Pension has been put into payment.

Arrears are paid by cheque or to the claimant's bank/building society/post office/credit union account.

Duration of Payment

Payment is made until the claimant resumes employment, is disqualified from receipt of Invalidity Pension, qualifies for another pension at a higher rate, opts to transfer to another Social Welfare payment, is transferred to the State pension (contributory) at age 66, or dies.

Where a claimant returns to work and/or submits a final medical certificate, the payment is terminated.

Where the claimant commenced working some time before notifying the Department, the decision may be made with effect from the commencement of employment giving rise to an overpayment.

(See separate guideline re "Revised decisions" and "Guidelines on the Recovery of Debt by the DSFA")

When a claimant reaches pension age he or she is advised that they are transferring to the State pension (contributory).

Irish/UK Contributions and State (Old Age) Pension

Where an Invalidity Pension claimant who used UK contributions in order to qualify for pension reaches UK Pension age, the rate of Invalidity Pension reduces to the relevant Pro-rata rate. Pension age in the UK is 65 for men and 60 for women. From 2010-2020 the pension age for women in the UK will gradually increase from 60 to 65.

Payment after death of pensioner or qualified dependants

Where the deceased claimant was in receipt of Invalidity Pension which included an increase for a qualified adult his/her surviving spouse/civil partner/cohabitant will receive 6 weeks payment after death.

Also where the deceased claimant was in receipt of Invalidity Pension, his/her surviving spouse/civil partner/cohabitant will receive 6 weeks payment after death where that surviving spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of one of the Social Welfare payments below in his/her own right:

Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Assistance, Pre-Retirement Allowance, Farm Assist payment, Illness Benefit, Injury Benefit, State Pension (Contributory) Pension, Retirement Pension, Invalidity Pension, State Pension (Non-Contributory) Pension, Blind Pension, Incapacity Supplement, Supplementary Welfare Allowance or Disability Allowance, Carer's Benefit or Carer's Allowance

This provision is effective from 1 June 2004.

The rate payable for 6 weeks after death of a claimant will be the actual rate that the deceased claimant was receiving. In cases where the deceased claimant was in receipt of a personal rate of payment only, the surviving spouse/civil partner/cohabitant will receive 6 weeks payment equivalent to that personal rate.

Where the deceased claimant was receiving a personal rate and an increase for a child dependant(s), the surviving spouse/civil partner/cohabitant will receive 6 weeks payment at the rate which was payable to the deceased claimant.

Payment of the Increase for a Qualified Adult also continues for 6 weeks following the death of the qualified adult.


Where payment is being made for a dependant child, this payment will cease when the child reaches 18 years of age.

For Invalidity Pension, where a child is in full-time education after reaching 18 years, a certificate is issued for completion by the educational establishment. Payment is made up to the date the certificate covers/end of academic year.

Where a child has undergone the leaving cert cycle in Secondary School, payment may be made in respect of them until the third Sunday in October.

Certification of Ongoing Entitlement

Claimants who are paid by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) and Electronic Information Transfer (EIT) are required to certify that they are observing the Condition for receipt of Invalidity Pension. A form for this purpose is issued to them periodically.

Claimants who are living outside the state are also required to certify that they are observing the Condition for receipt of Invalidity Pension. A form is issued to them periodically for this purpose.


Credits are awarded for each week of incapacity for work.
(See separate guideline re "CREDIT AWARDS")


Systematic, periodic reviews are carried out to confirm that the qualifying conditions for receipt of Invalidity Pension continue to be fulfilled.

A review is also initiated if there is any suggestion that the Conditions for receipt of Invalidity Pension for claimants in receipt of Invalidity Pension may not be observed or the qualifying conditions are no longer fulfilled.

Where a claimant is found to be in breach of the Conditions for receipt of Invalidity Pension, a disqualification is imposed for the period of the breach. If the breach is continuing, the question of the fulfilment of the medical condition may also be examined, particularly where the claimant has been working for over 12 months.

Suspension of payment

Where a question arises as to whether the conditions for the receipt of Invalidity Pension are fulfilled, and initial enquiries fail to establish entitlement, payment may be suspended in whole or in part until the person's entitlement has been confirmed.

This will be done if there is reason to believe that:

  • either the claimant, qualified adult or child dependent is no longer alive;
  • the claimant is no longer resident at the given address;
  • the claimant has taken up employment or self-employment
  • the earnings of the qualified adult have increased and the claimant has failed to provide the requested details within a reasonable period of time;
  • the claimant fails to attend for medical examination and fails to furnish a reasonable explanation for not attending;
  • the claimant refuses unreasonably to see an Officer of the Minister or refuses to answer any reasonable enquiries by any such officer relating to his/her claim.

Retention/Destruction of documents

Claim files in respect of Invalidity Pension are retained and are not destroyed until the expiration of six complete calendar years after a claim is stopped. Claims are stopped due to the death of the claimant or due to the fact that the claimant has moved on to another Social Welfare Payment or due to the fact that the claimant has returned to work. A random sample of 10% of files due to be destroyed are retained for archival purposes in accordance with the National Archives Act.

Last modified:04/12/2012

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