Social assistance Payments

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If you do not qualify for a social insurance payment or have used up your entitlement, you may be entitled to a social assistance payment instead.

To qualify for this type of payment, you must satisfy a means test. Your means are any income you or your spouse/partner have or property (except your family home) or an asset which could bring in money or provide you with an income. For certain payments, (e.g. Jobseeker's Allowance) the value of benefit and privilege such as free board and lodging is regarded as means if you are under 25.

You will also need to satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition.

Your weekly rate of payment depends on the amount of means assessed.

Means Test

  • Means are taken into account for the following payments:
  • State Pension (Non-Contributory)
  • Carer's Allowance
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Widow's or Widower's (Non-Contributory) Pension
  • Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pre-Retirement Allowance (PRETA)
  • Farm Assist
  • Blind Pension
  • Disability Allowance
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA)2
  • Rent Allowance

A Community Welfare Officer from the HSE will work out your means in the case of Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
When you apply for a means-tested payment, a Social Welfare Inspector will ask for details of your means. The Inspector may do this at your local Social Welfare Office or may call to you at your home. The Inspector will need to ask you for details about the items that count as means. You may be asked to produce documents such as accounts or bank statements. Your means decision is made by a separate Deciding Officer.

What counts as Means

The main items that count as means are:

  • cash income
  • income from employment/self-employment
  • the value of any property you have but not your own home
  • the value of any investments and capital you have
  • for Jobseeker's Allowance or Pre-Retirement Allowance, the value of any 'benefit and privilege' such as board and lodging.

If you are married and living with your spouse or if you are living with someone as husband and wife, the means of your spouse/partner can be taken into account in the means assessment

Note: For Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory), the items listed are only counted where they belong to the orphan

More Information

Further information on means assessment is available in the booklet relating to each scheme. To view the booklets please see the Publications Section of the Department's website to

You can also view more detailed information on the Assessment of Means section of the website

If you need information you should contact the office dealing with your claim. Please see the list of contact details for the Department.

Working out your own means is difficult. It is important that you should apply if you think you might qualify for any of the means-tested payments.

Last modified:22/01/2009

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