Is everyone over 66 automatically entitled to a State Pension?
There is no automatic entitlement to a State Pension. You have to apply and be assessed to check your eligibility. There are two types of State Pension which you can apply for at age 66 – the State Pension (Contributory) and State Pension (Non Contributory). To qualify for a State Pension Contributory you must have a certain amount of PRSI paid while for the State Pension Non-Contributory, you must pass a means test and be habitually resident in Ireland
How does someone approaching pension age know which to apply for?
If you have been in employment or self-employment and have a minimum of 10 years reckonable PRSI paid, you may have entitlement to a minimum State Pension, while if you have either no PRSI paid here in Ireland or you have less than 10 years paid, you may be eligible to apply for the State Pension Non Contributory. If you contact your local Citizens Information Centre we can go through your situation in detail and let you know what your options are.
How can one establish how much PRSI they had paid and what amount of pension they will receive?
You can request a copy of your social insurance record from the Department of Social Protection. The quickest and easiest way to request a statement is through MyWelfare.ie. When you receive it, you can contact your local Citizens Information Centre and they will go through it with you and make you aware of the likely level of pension your contributions entitle you to and how it is calculated. If people have gaps in their record, particularly people who may have been out of the workplace raising their children, they will check if they are eligible for either the HomeCaring Period Scheme or Homemaker Scheme. These Schemes make it easier for people who take time out of their working lives to care for children or adults to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory)
Can the person’s spouse claim for them, if they do not have enough contributions in their own right?
Yes, the spouse can claim an Increase for their Qualified Adult (IQA). However, that IQA is means tested. It is important that if the spouse has a change in circumstances, perhaps inherited money or property subsequent to the pension being approved that they inform DSP.
Does time worked abroad count towards your pension in Ireland?
If you have worked in Ireland and also in one or more EU states, your reckonable social insurance contributions from each EU state will be added to your Irish PRSI contributions to help you to qualify for a social welfare payment, such as a State pension. However, it will be a pro-rata pension i.e. it will be proportionate to the amount of reckonable contributions you have in Ireland This can also be used in the same way for time worked in any non-EU country that Ireland has a bi-lateral social security agreement such as the US, Canada, Australia etc.
What about people who worked in the UK – has it changed since Brexit?
Irish and UK citizens living in Ireland can still benefit from social insurance contributions made when working in the UK in the same pro-rata way under the current agreement
How does one qualify for the State Pension Non-Contributory?
The State Pension Non Contributory is means tested so when applying you will need to give details of all your household income, as well as details of savings and capital. You must live in Ireland and meet the habitual residence condition.
What does the means test take into account?
The main items included in the means test are cash income that you or your spouse or partner may have. It also takes into account the value of savings, investments, shares or any property you have, but not your own home.
The first €20,000 of your capital is not taken into account. If you are one half of a couple (married couple, civil partners or a cohabiting couple) then your means are taken to be half of the total means of yourself and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. The first €30 per week of means does not affect the rate of your pension. After that first €30, your pension is reduced by €2.50 for every €2.50 of means.
You can also earn up to €200 per week from employment, (not self-employment), and it will not affect your Pension.
Many older people are concerned about rising costs. Are there other additional benefits that they can claim?
You can get the Household Benefits Package if you are aged 70 or over. You do not need to be in receipt of a State pension and the package is not means tested. This helps with the cost of your electricity or gas bill & the TV licence. However, it is important to note that people under 70 can also get the HBP, but additional rules apply to it. You can check with your local CIC to see if you are eligible
Fuel Allowance is a means tested payment to help with the cost of heating your home during the winter months and it is currently €33 per week. Your gross weekly income must be below a certain amount to pass the means test.
People getting the Fuel Allowance will get a lump sum payment of €400 paid the week starting November 14, 2022.
For people who live alone there is the weekly Living Alone Increase. This is an extra payment for people on social welfare payments who are living alone. People getting the Living Alone Increase will get a lump sum payment of €200 the week starting November 14, 2022.
If you get Fuel Allowance and you get the Living Alone Increase, you will get both once-off payments (€400 plus €200) in November.
Also if you receive the Fuel Allowance and Living Alone Increase you will automatically receive the Telephone Support Allowance of €2.50 per week. You do not need to apply for it.
If you are caring for someone and you qualify for the Carer’s Support Grant, you will receive a once-off payment of €500 the week starting November 21 also.
Will the Christmas Bonus be paid to people on State Pension this year?
A Christmas Bonus of 100 per cent will be paid in early December 2022 to people getting a long-term social welfare payment including State Pension. In the week beginning October 17, people getting a weekly social welfare payment also got a once-off payment of an extra week also called a ‘double week’ as a cost-of-living support.
If you need further information about any of the issues raised here or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you.
WEST CORK HELPLINE 0818 07 8390
Bantry office is staffed from 10am-5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am-4pm. Alternatively you can email on firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie