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Section 2 - Social Insurance

This section explains social insurance and who it covers.
It outlines:

  • Personal Public Service Numbers (PPS No.s)
  • Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions from employees, employers and self-employed people
  • Voluntary contributions
  • Credited contributions ('credits�)
  • Worksharing
  • PRSAs.


2.1 Your Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.)

2.2 Your PRSI Record

2.3 Pay-Related Social Insurance

2.4 PRSI Contribution Classes

2.5 Self-Employed Contributions

2.6 Special Collection System

2.7 Voluntary PRSI Contributions

2.8 PRSI 'Credits'

2.9 Worksharing

2.10 Personal Retirement Savings Accounts

Return to Main Table of Contents

2.1 Your Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.)

Your PPS No. (formerly known as your RSI No.) is your unique reference number for all dealings with Government Departments and public bodies (for example, this Department and Revenue).

You need your PPS No. for all dealings with the Department of Social Protection.

Your PPS No. appears on a Social Services Card, any social welfare pension and payment books, a Temporary Payment Card, a Drugs Payment Card that you use, as well as on a P60, a P45, a PAYE notice of tax credits, a tax assessment or any letters from this Department or Revenue. Your payslip is also evidence of your PPS No. once it contains your name and your correct PPS number.

Children now born in Ireland automatically get a PPS No. when the birth is registered. In other cases, children automatically get PPS No.s when their parent or guardian applies for Child Benefit. Where benefit is not claimed or the child is not born in Ireland, the parent or guardian can apply for a PPS No.

If you cannot find your number, contact your local Social Welfare Office. If you do not have a number, staff at your local Social Welfare Office will advise you on the prcedures involved and the offices currently issuing PPS numbers.

To get a PPS No., you must give evidence of your identity at the Registrations Centre where you will be asked to fill in an application form.

If you were born in Ireland, you need to bring the following documents to show your identity:

  • your Birth Certificate ,

  • valid photographic ID, e.g. current valid passport, full driving licence

If you are from the UK, you need either a current valid passport or a Birth Certificate (long form preferred), another form of photographic ID and evidence of your address. You must also produce some details of employment, social security claims, residency, tax payment or education in the UK or Northern Ireland.

If you are an EU national or EEA citizen you need a passport or
National Identity Card and evidence of your address and, if available, supporting documentation of either birth, work, unemployment, residency, tax liability or education history. The EEA (European Economic Area) includes EU nationals, citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Swiss nationals are also considered EEA nationals for PPS number purposes.

If you are a non-EEA national, you need a passport or Certificate of
Registration with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Immigration Card), evidence of your address and, if available, supporting documentation of either birth, work, unemployment, residency, tax liability or education history.

Make sure that you safely store any document that shows your PPS No.You need the number when accessing services from public bodies.

2.2 Your PRSI record

Important documents that record your PRSI


At the end of each tax year, your employer will give you a P60 form. This P60 shows your total pay, number of weeks of employment, tax, PRSI payments and PRSI Class for the tax year that's just gone.

Check that your PPS No., PRSI weeks and PRSI Class are correct on the P60, and keep your P60 for at least 2 years. You may need it to claim a refund of income tax or apply for social insurance benefits.


If you leave your job, your employer must give you a P45 form. This shows your total pay, number of weeks of employment, tax and PRSI that payments from the start of the Tax year until the date that you leave your job. Check that your PPS No., PRSI weeks and PRSI Class(es) are correct on the P45. You need your P45 if you get a new job or if you apply for a jobseeker's payment.

You have the right by law to examine and get a statement of your PRSI record held by your employer.

2.3 Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI)

Who pays PRSI?

With very few exceptions, you must be paying Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions if you are aged 16 or over and if you are a

  • part-time or full-time employee, or
  • self-employed person with a minimum annual income (see SW14 for details of the minumum annual income for self-employed people)

PRSI contribution, normally paid by an employer and an employee, is a percentage of an employee's reckonable earnings (their gross pay minus superannuation and Permanent Health Insurance contributions). The employer deducts the employee's share directly from their earnings.

The PRSI contribution is made up of social insurance and the Health Contribution:

  • The social insurance part, paid by employers and employees, goes to the Social Insurance Fund, which helps to pay for social welfare benefits and pensions. See SW 14 for details.
  • The Health Contribution goes towards the funding of national health services. This is included in the employee�s share of the contribution in any week that their reckonable earnings are over a certain amount.See SW 14 for details. 

    The employer must check if employees have a medical card, are aged 70 or over, get a Widow�s or Widower�s Pension, a One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife�s Benefit or Allowance or a Widow�s or Widower�s payment under the social security law of a country covered by EC Regulations. These employees do not pay the Health Contribution - no matter what they earn.
  • For Classes A and H, 0.7% of the employer�s share of PRSI is called the National Training Fund Levy. The National Training Fund supports a broad range of employment training initiatives. The levy is included in the employer�s share of PRSI - so there is no increase in the overall rate paid by the employer.
PRSI-Free Allowance for employees

A PRSI-Free Allowance applies each week to an employee�s earnings up until they reach the PRSI ceiling. This means that they pay social insurance contributions on only some of their income each week. However, the Allowance does not affect the employer�s contribution and employees must still pay the Health Contribution based on their total weekly earnings. The PRSI Classes are outlined below.

Employees covered under PRSI Classes A, B, C, D and H with
reckonable earnings of �352 a week or less in 2008, do not pay PRSI for that week. However, the employer pays their share of PRSI as normal. Employees continue to be covered for the benefits and pensions appropriate to their PRSI Class.

Earnings Ceiling

There is a fixed ceiling on the amount of social insurance contributions that an employee has to pay in any year. When an employee's earnings go over the employee's ceiling for social insurance, they only continue to pay the Health Contribution, where due. The employer continues paying their share of the PRSI contribution on all of the employee's earnings. The employee is still covered for benefit-even though they stop paying PRSI contributions because their earnings have reached the ceiling.There has been no income ceiling for self-employed contributors since 6 April 2001.

There is no income ceiling for the Health Contribution.

2.4 PRSI contribution classes

In general, PRSI contribution classes are decided by the nature of the employment and by the amount of the employee's gross reckonable earnings in any week:

  • Most workers pay PRSI contributions at Class A and are covered for all social welfare benefits and pensions.
  • Employees who earn less than �38 per week (from all employments) and people aged 66 and over, pay PRSI at Class J and are covered for Occupational Injuries Benefits only.
  • Some workers in the public sector do not have cover for all benefits and pensions and,as such, they pay a modified PRSI contribution at Classes B, C, D or H.
  • Other people, such as those who are retired but who are receiving pensions from their former job, pay PRSI at Classes K or M. These classes do not give cover for social welfare benefits and pensions.
  • Self-employed people pay PRSI at Class S up to age 66 and are covered for some social welfare benefits and pensions.

However, if self-employed people rely on share fishing for their main income, they may choose to pay extra contributions under PRSI Class P . These extra contributions provide additional limited benefits in addition to their entitlements under Class S.

The type of employment in each PRSI contribution class, together with the benefits covered, are summarised below.

PRSI Subclasses

Most PRSI contribution classes are further divided into subclasses O, 1, 2 and X. A8, the exception to the usual subclass numbering, is a subclass of A9 which is used for Community Employment participants while on the CE scheme only. These subclasses represent different bands of weekly earnings and categories of people within each earnings band as outlined in SW 14.

Deciding the correct PRSI class

If there is any doubt on whether PRSI should be paid or which class
of PRSI should apply, you should make an application to this
Department�s Scope Section for a decision on the issue. Before a
decision is made, a Social Welfare Inspector investigates thoroughly by interviewing the people concerned.

If an employee is unhappy with a decision made by Scope Section, they can appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days of being told of the decision.

Where a decision results in the PRSI Class changing to a higher rate of PRSI, a Social Welfare Inspector will collect back payments from the employer. Where a decision results in the PRSI Class changing to a lower rate of PRSI, the employer can claim a refund from PRSI Refunds Section (see address below).


If an employee has overpaid PRSI contributions, they can apply for a refund to:

PRSI Refunds Section
Department of Social Protection
Ois�n House
Pearse Street
Dublin 2.

Telephone: (01) 673 2586.

More information

For further details of PRSI contributions, please contact:

Information Services
Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Services
College Road

Telephone: (071) 9193313.

Private Sector Employments

PRSI Class A
  • Employees in industrial, commercial and service employment with gross earnings of �38 or more per week from all employments;
  • Civil and Public Servants recruited from 6 April 1995 and
  • Community Employment participants from 6 April 1996.

Class A benefits

  • Jobseeker's Benefit
  • Illness Benefit
  • Health and Safety Benefit
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Widow's or Widower's Contributory Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • State Pension (Transition)
  • State Pensions (Contributory)
  • Bereavement Grant
  • Treatment Benefit
  • Occupational Injuries Benefits
  • Carer's Benefit
PRSI Class J
  • Employees in industrial, commercial and service employment whose gross earnings are less than �38 per week from all employments;
  • Employees aged 66 or over and others insured for Occupational Injuries Benefits only;
  • People taking part in certain FAS training schemes insurable for Occupational Injuries Benefits only, and
  • People whose employment is of a subsidiary nature or whose employment does not provide their main income - for example, people insurable at PRSI Classes B, C, D or H in their main employment and who have a second job, attendants at Department of Education Examinations, Presiding Officers and Poll Clerks at Elections and FCA members on annual training.

Class J benefits

  • Occupational Injuries Benefit

Civil and public sector employments

PRSI Class B

Permanent and pensionable Civil Servants, registered doctors and dentists employed in the Civil Service, and Garda�, recruited before 6 April 1995.

Class B benefits

  • Widow's or Widower's Contributory Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • Limited Occupational Injuries Benefit
  • Bereavement Grant
  • Carer's Benefit
PRSI Class C

Commissioned Army Officers and members of the Army Nursing Service, recruited before 6 April 1995.

Class C benefits

  • Widow's or Widower's Contributory Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • Bereavement Grant
  • Carer's Benefit
PRSI Class D

Permanent and pensionable employees in the Public Service, other than those mentioned in Classes B and C, recruited before 6 April 1995.

Class D benefits

  • Widow's or Widower's Contributory Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • Occupational Injuries Benefits
  • Bereavement Grant
  • Carer's Benefit
PRSI Class H

N.C.O.s and enlisted personnel of the Defence Forces.

Class H benefits

  • Jobseeker's Benefit
  • Illness Benefit
  • Health and Safety Benefit
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Widow's or Widower's Contributory Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • State Pension (Transition)
  • State Pensions (Contributory)
  • Bereavement Grant
  • Treatment Benefit
  • Carer's Benefit

Only certain benefits may be paid during service.

Private sector employment

PRSI Class E

Ministers employed by the Church of Ireland Representative Body.

Class E benefits

  • Illness Benefit
  • Health and Safety Benefit
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Widow's or Widower's Contributory Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • State Pension (Transition)
  • State Pensions (Contributory)
  • Bereavement Grant
  • Treatment Benefit
  • Carer's Benefit


PRSI Class S

Self-employed people such as farmers, certain company directors, people who run their own business and people with income from investments, rents and maintenance.

Class S benefits

  • Widow's or Widower's Contributory Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • State Pension (Contributory)
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Bereavement Grant
PRSI Class P (optional)

Self-employed people who rely on share fishing for their main income.

Class P benefits

  • Limited Jobseeker's Benefit
  • Limited Illness Benefit
  • Treatment Benefit

Occupational pensions

PRSI Class K

People receiving income on which only the Health Contribution must be paid, such as:

  • occupational pensions;
  • income from certain official positions - for example, Judge or State Solicitor, and
  • income of people aged 66 to 70 who previously paid Class S contributions

Class K benefits

  • Nil
PRSI Class M
  • People with a nil contribution liability - for example, employees under age 16, and
  • People within Class K with a nil liability - for example, medical card holders, widows and widowers and people aged 70 or over.

In certain cases Occupational Injuries Benefit

2.5 Self-employed contributions

In general, self-employed people pay PRSI through Revenue. Those who pay their tax directly to the Collector-General pay their social insurance and Health Contribution with their income tax. In 2007, if the annual income of a self-employed contributor is over �3,174, a social insurance contribution of 3% of all self-employed income or �253 (whichever is greater) is payable. The Health Contribution also applies, where relevant.

However, if Revenue decides that a self-employed person has no net tax liability (NNL), they do not collect PRSI. Cases regarded as NNL by Revenue are referred to the Department of Social Protection to see if a person has a PRSI liability. You need to have an annual income of �3,174 (conditions apply) in order to be liable to pay the NNL rate of PRSI (currently a flat-rate contribution of �157 per annum to be paid to the Department of Social Protection). If this is the case, you should contact:

NNL Unit - Self Employment Section
Department of Social Protection
Cork Road

Telephone: Waterford (051) 356 000
                 Dublin (01) 704

See information Booklet, PRSI for the Self - Employed  SW74  for more details

2.6 Special Collection System

Most employees pay PRSI through Revenue�s PAYE system. However,employees who do not pay tax through the PAYE system pay PRSI on their earnings through the Special Collection system operated by the Department of Social Protection. The Special Collection system includes employees:

  • whose earnings are paid from an employer�s office or residence outside the State where the employer is not registered for PAYE with Revenue;
  • whose employer holds a certificate from Revenue excluding them from PAYE because their income tax liability is assessed under another system;
  • who continue to be insured under Irish social security law while they are temporarily posted by their employer to another country under EC Regulation 1408/71, a relevant Bilateral Agreement or S.I. 312 of 1996; and
  • who pay PRSI as employees but are self-assessed for income tax purposes - for example, sub-post masters, social welfare branch managers and medical consultants employed on a fee basis by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Only the social insurance part of PRSI is paid through the Special
Collection system. The Health Contribution, where due, is collected by Revenue.

For more information on the Special Collection system and arrangements for posting employees temporarily overseas, contact:

Special Collection Section
Social Welfare Services
Cork Road
Telephone: Waterford (051) 356 000
                 Dublin (01) 704 3000

See information booklet, Employers Guide To The PRSI Special Collection System For Non-PAYE Employees -  SW 63 for more details.

2.7 Voluntary PRSI contributions

If an employee or self-employed contributor is no longer covered by
compulsory PRSI and they are under the age of 66, they may opt to pay voluntary contributions (VCs). These can help maintain or improve a person�s pension entitlements but they do not provide cover for short-term benefits.
To become a voluntary contributor you must:

  • have at least 260 weeks of PRSI paid in either employment or self-employment, and
  • apply within 12 months of the end of the tax year during which you last paid PRSI or had a PRSI credit.

Class J PRSI contributions do not qualify in this instance.
However, a person whose employment becomes insurable at Class J may become a voluntary contributor if they already have 260 weeks of insurable employment at another class with higher contributions.

Rates of contribution

There are three rates of voluntary contributions:


 Benefits     Convered
     State Pension (Transition)
 State Pension (Contributory)
 Widow's and Wisower's (Contributory) Pension
 Guardian Payment (Contributory)
 Bereavement Grant

High rate: 6.6% of earnings in the previous year for people who last
paid PRSI at Classes A, E and H
Low rate: 2.6% of earnings in the previous year for people who last
paid PRSI at Classes B, C and D
Special rate: Yearly flat rate of �253 for people who last paid PRSI at Class S.

For more information about voluntary PRSI, see information booklet Guide to Voluntary Contributions - SW 8 or contact:

Voluntary Contributions Section
Social Welfare Services
Cork Road

Telephone: Waterford (051) 356 000
                 Dublin (01) 704 

2.8 PRSI credits

PRSI deductions are made from your earnings each week - except if you are sick, unemployed or retire early. In these cases, you may qualify for credited contributions instead. Credits keep your insurance record up-todate to help protect your right to payments and benefits in the future. Credits are usually awarded at the same rate as your last paid PRSI contribution. For example, if you paid PRSI at Class A in your last employment and are eligible for credits, the credits given will protect your entitlement to the PRSI Class A benefits listed on page 26.

You may get credits while claiming social welfare payments because you are out of work or doing a F�S course. These credits protect your entitlement to benefits and pensions in the future.
To be entitled to PRSI credits, generally, you must previously have worked and paid PRSI contributions. If, at any stage since starting work, you have no PRSI contributions paid or credited for 2 full tax years in a row, you cannot get credits until you return to work and pay PRSI contributions for at least 26 weeks. Contributions paid at PRSI Classes S, J, K or M cannot be used to satisfy this condition.

Pre-entry credits

When you first start work, you are automatically given credits. These pre-entry credits are given from the beginning of the tax year in which you start work up to that date, and for the 2 previous tax years. Preentry credits are not given if you pay PRSI Class J contributions only in your job.

These credits may help you to qualify for Illness, Jobseeker's, Maternity or Adoptive Benefit as soon as you have worked and paid PRSI contributions for 52 weeks. Pre-entry credits are normally given only once.

Student credits

Credits may be given for periods in full-time education - for example, third level - if a person:

  • worked before starting the course and paid PRSI Class A ,
  • started the course before reaching age 23,

  • has started in their first full-time insurable employment at PRSI Class A .

When you apply for student credits, you need to supply:

  • written confirmation from your school or college stating that you were a student there, and
  • the dates that you attended the school or college.

Student credits are given only once and are not counted towards future entitlement to social welfare pensions.

Credits while sick or unemployed

Credits are automatically given for any period during which you get Illness Benefit, Jobseeker's Benefit, Health and Safety Benefit, Maternity or Adoptive Benefit, Invalidity Pension, the State Pension (Transition) or Carer's Benefit.

You may also get credits for periods of Injury Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance, Pre-Retirement Allowance or Carer's Allowance, or time spent on an education or part-time work scheme for unemployed people. Credits may also be awarded under the Homemakers Scheme. See Section 4.3 for more information .

If you are sick or unemployed, you may qualify for credits - even if you are not getting Illness Benefit or a jobseeker's payment. This can happen, for example, if you:

  • do not have enough PRSI contributions to qualify for benefit;
  • have used up your benefit, or
  • cannot get jobseeker's payments because of a trade dispute.

If you are unemployed, you may be entitled to sign for credits, provided that you can show that you are capable of and available for employment and actively seeking employment at your local Social Welfare Office.

To get credits while you are ill and unfit for work, you must send regular medical evidence for as long as your illness lasts to the address on the opposite page or hand in your medical certificate at your local Social Welfare Office.

Department of Social Protection
P.O. Box 1650
Dublin 1.

You may also get credits if you take unpaid statutory Maternity, Adoptive, Carer's or Parental Leave. See information booklet SW12 for further details.

Credits for Civil and Public Servants who pay PRSI at Class B, C or D

If you have to give up work due to ill health, and you are likely to remain ill for some time, you should send medical certificates once a year for as long as you remain ill, or until you reach age 66, to :

Client Eligibility Services
Department of Social Protection
McCarter's Road
Co. Donegal

You may get a credit for each week that you are sick. Together, these credits will help to keep your insurance record up-to-date and will protect your right to a Widow's or Widower's (Contributory) Pension or a Guardian's Payment (Contributory) in the future. See information booklet, Giving up Work Due to Ill-Health -   SW 20 

Civil and Public Servants are also entitled to credits for unpaid statutory Maternity, Adoptive, Carers or Parental Leave.

Volunteer Development Workers (VDWs)

If you are a volunteer development worker, you may also get credits. See information booklet Volunter Development Worker Scheme -  SW15 for more details.

Training course credits

You can also get credits when you attend training courses with F�S, Cert, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) or TEAGASC - provided that you were employed at PRSI Class A or getting credits before attending the course.

More information

For further details on credits, see information booklet Credited Contributions  SW 12.

2.9 Worksharing

Worksharing is an arrangement to work a pattern of reduced hours in line with an employer�s staff guidelines.

Examples include a 4-day week, a 3-day week, a 'week on/week off�
arrangement, a 'mornings only� system or working from 9am to 3pm each day.

Worksharing may affect:

  • the amount of PRSI that you (and your employer) pay, or
  • the number of PRSI contributions that you are awarded which will affect your right to benefits and payments in the future.

The contribution week starts on 1 January. As such, it begins on a
different day of the week each year, on a Tuesday in 2008 and on a
Thursday in 2009.


A person has a worksharing arrangement where they work one week
on and one week off.

Year                 Contribution Week
2008               Tuesday to Monday         
2009               Thursday to Wednesday
2010               Friday to Thursday
2011               Saturday to Friday

In 2008, 2009 and 2010 a worksharer working from Monday to
Friday, week on, week off, will work for 52 contribution weeks. This
is because the contribution week for these years starts on a weekday so they work at least 1 day in each contribution week. In 2011, the contribution week is from Saturday to Friday so the worksharer in this case will only be working and paying PRSI for 26 weeks in the year. During their week off, a worksharer is not entitled to credit as they are not unemployed. They may, however, be able to avail of Homemakers Credits ( see SW 1) which will maintain their entitlement to the State Pension (Contributory). They may also be entitled to additional PRSI contributions on the basis of entitlement to public holidays under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.

Your social insurance record as a worksharer is recorded with PRSI
Class A contributions for each contribution week that you work if you
earn �38 or more a week. If your worksharing pattern means that you do work in a particular contribution week, but your weekly earnings are less than �38, then you get a PRSI Class J contribution for that week (Class J is for Occupational Injuries Benefits only and will not enable you to qualify for the main social insurance benefits). If your worksharing pattern means that you do not work in any particular contribution week, then you receive no PRSI contribution for that week.

The best option to make sure that you do not lose out on PRSI
contributions is to work at least one constant day in each working
week. However, you must earn at least �38 for that day to qualify for a PRSI Class A contribution.

See information booklet Voluntary Deveoplment Worker's Scheme 
SW 105 for further details.

2.10 Personal Retirement Savings Accounts

Under the Pensions (Amendment) Act, 2002, people who are not
members of an occupational pension scheme, including employees, the self-employed, homemakers, carers and unemployed people may now open Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs).

These are a flexible and low-cost pension option but, as with other
pension schemes, the benefits you receive depend on what you paid or your employer paid and the investment return on those contributions.

The Pensions Board and Revenue are jointly responsible for approving PRSA products. An employer who is not operating a pension scheme with retirement benefits, or whose scheme limits membership, must provide access to at least one Standard PRSA for employees and for contributions to be deducted from the employee�s salary.

A Standard PRSA is:

  • a personal pension plan that you take out with an authorised PRSAprovider;
  • like an investment account used to save for your retirement;
  • a type of defined contribution scheme where you can make regular contributions to your pension which are tax deductible - depending on your age, up to certain limits at the marginal income tax rate. Employees also gain relief from PRSI and the Health Contribution;
  • a flexible pension that allows you to increase, decrease or stop your
    contributions at any time;
  • a portable pension that can be carried from job to job or transferred
    to another PRSA provider;
  • a personal pension plan providing you with regular information that enables you to monitor its performance and suitability to your needs.

If you have a Standard PRSA, you cannot be charged more than 5% on the contributions that you pay and 1% a year on the managed funds.Your PRSA provider can charge as little or as much as they like up to these maximum levels.

For more information on Personal Retirement Savings Accounts, please contact:

The Pensions Board
Verschoyle House
28/30 Mount Street
Dublin 2
Telephone: (01) 6131900
Email: info@pensionsboard.ie

Last modified:16/05/2011

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