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August 15, 2023

Understanding the Non-Contributory State Pension in Ireland

The State Pension (Non-Contributory) is paid to people aged 66 and above who don’t qualify for Ireland’s State Pension (Contributory). Find out more about it.

Aine Kavanagh

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Aine Kavanagh

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The Non-Contributory State Pension is a weekly social welfare payment in Ireland. 

It provides financial assistance (€254 or €264 per week) to older adults who don’t qualify for the State Pension (Contributory). 

We’ll explore it in detail, including its eligibility criteria, payment rates, and application process. We’ll also answer three FAQs about the Non-Contributory Pension.

What Is the State Pension (Non-Contributory) in Ireland?

The State Pension (Non-Contributory) is a means-tested payment made to individuals aged 66 and above who don’t qualify for the State Pension (Contributory) based on their PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance) contributions.

The Department of Social Protection (then known as the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection) introduced the Non-Contributory Pension scheme in September 2006. 

It was formerly known as the Old Age Non-Contributory Pension.

You may be wondering…

What’s the Difference Between the Contributory and Non-Contributory State Pensions? 

Here’s the fundamental difference between both State Pensions in Ireland:

  • In the State Pension (Non-Contributory), a person’s eligibility is determined through a means test, where the Department of Social Protection (DSP) analyses the individual’s financial resources. (We’ll explain how the DSP conducts the means test soon.)

  • On the other hand, to qualify for a Contributory State Pension, a person must fulfil certain social insurance contribution conditions.

Who Can Qualify for the State Pension (Non-Contributory) in Ireland?

To qualify for the State Pension (Non-Contributory), you must:

  • Be aged 66 and above.

  • Be living in Ireland and fulfilling the habitual residence condition (HRC). 

  • In Irish law, the term "habitually resident" is not clearly defined, but it implies that the person must have a clear and established connection to Ireland. 

  • For example, one factor determining this “connection” would be any arrangements you have made to stay in Ireland long-term. 

  • Pass a means test conducted by the Department of Social Protection that examines all your sources of income.

Individuals who only qualify for a reduced rate of the Contributory State Pension on the basis of their social insurance record can opt for the Non-Contributory State Pension scheme.

How Is a Means Test Conducted for the Non-Contributory State Pension?

A means test checks if you have enough financial resources to support yourself and determines your eligibility for the State Pension (Non-Contributory). 

Here’s an overview of how the DSP carries out the means test:

  • When you apply for a means-tested social welfare payment, like the Non-Contributory State Pension, you must complete a form with the details of all your income sources. It may ask for your bank details, like the account numbers.

  • Then, a Social Welfare Inspector will visit your home and interview you to assess your income. They may also ask for supporting documents like your bank statements.

  • The officer will assess your total income from all sources to determine if you qualify for the State Pension (Non-Contributory). A separate Deciding Officer will decide on your entitlements. 

What Is Assessed in a Means Test?

The means test for the Non-Contributory State Pension looks at two things:

  • The money you or your spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant may have as cash income

  • Capital: The value of your savings, investments, shares, or any property (except your own home and the first €20,000 of the capital). 

Let’s discuss this in more detail. 

1. Cash Income 

Any cash income earned through employment, self-employment, occupational or private pensions, including social security pension from foreign countries, is assessed in a means test.

But if you earn up to €200 per week from employment, your income is not assessed in a means test. 

Here’s an example:

If you work under a Community Employment scheme (but are not self-employed) and earn €200 per week, the DSP will not assess your earnings in a means test. Your spouse, civil partner, and co-habitant can also make up to €200 per week. 

Cash income can also include income generated from owning or leasing farmlands.

A person’s net income from owning or leasing their farmland is calculated by deducting expenses from their gross income (income before tax). 

However, if someone doesn’t actively use or lease the land they own, the DSP will consider its capital value.

For the means test, the DSP doesn't consider:

  • Any income a person receives through the Farm Retirement Scheme.

  • Income from property that has already been assessed on its capital value. 

2. Value of Capital and Property 

Capital includes any savings, investments, cash on hand, and any property someone has (except their own home). 

The DSP combines all the capital from various sources and uses a particular formula to calculate your weekly means from your capital.

As per this formula: 

  • The initial €20,000 of capital is completely excluded from consideration. 

  • The subsequent €10,000 is assessed at a rate of €1 per thousand.

  • The next €10,000 at €2 per thousand, and any amount beyond that is assessed at €4 per thousand.  

3. Income from Personal Property 

A means test doesn’t consider the value of your house. 

But any income you receive from your home, such as renting a room, may be considered. 

There are also some exceptions if you are:

  • Living alone: If a person who lives alone decides to rent out a room in their own home, the DSP will disregard the income from the rent they receive.

  • Not living alone: 

  • A person who isn’t living alone can earn up to €269.23 per week (€14,000 per year) by renting out a room in their house without it affecting their State Pension (Non-Contributory). 

  • However, the person renting the room must use it for at least 28 consecutive days and shouldn’t be an employee or an immediate family member.

The means test also assesses any income a person gets by selling, leaving, or investing the income obtained from selling their house. 

1. Selling your House 

If a person sells their house, the income they get from the sale is considered in the means test. 

However, if they sell their house because it's no longer suitable or affordable to maintain, up to €190,500 of the sale proceeds will be excluded from the means test. 

This exemption applies if they use the money from the sale to:

  • Buy or rent more suitable accommodation.

  • Move into a registered private nursing home.

  • Live with someone receiving a carer's allowance to care for them.

  • Relocate to sheltered or special housing in various sectors (voluntary, co-operative, statutory, or private).

2. Leaving your House without Selling it

When you leave your home temporarily or permanently due to old age or illness, the DSP won’t consider the value of your home in the means test. 

The catch?

If you receive income from the house (like rent), the DSP will consider the property's capital value in the means test.

3. Investing Income Obtained From the Sale of the House

The DSP will consider any income a person makes from selling their home in the means test, and interest on their investment will be counted as capital income. 

But if you use the interest to cover significant living expenses like nursing home costs, the DSP may exempt the interest from a maximum capital limit of €190,500.

What Is the Rate of Ireland’s State Pension (Non-Contributory)?

As of July 2023, the maximum rate of State Pension Non-Contributory payment is:

  • €254 if the person is 66-79 years old.

  • €264 if the person is aged 80 and over. 

Your pension amount is calculated by combining your cash and capital means.

In the case of a couple (married, civil partners, or cohabiting), the DSP considers half of the total means between the two partners.

What’s more?

  • You can claim an increase of €167.80 for an adult-dependent under 66 years of age as their pension entitlement. 

  • For a child dependent under 12, members between the age group of 66-80 can claim an increase of €42 (full rate) and €21 (half rate). 

  • For children 12 or above, members aged 80 and over can receive an increase of €50 (full-rate) and €25 (half-rate).

You can get a full-rate IQC if you’re getting an increase for a qualified adult for your spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant or if you’re parenting alone. 

You’ll get a half-rate IQC if your spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant earns between €310 and €400 per week (this condition doesn’t apply to some social welfare payments like jobseeker’s allowance, disability allowance, etc).    

However, you don't receive IQC if your partner earns over €400 per week or if you receive certain government benefits.

How to Apply for the Non-Contributory State Pension in Ireland

You should apply at least three months before you reach the State Pension age, i.e., 66, as of July 2023.

Follow these steps to apply for the Non-Contributory Pension scheme:

1. Filling Out the Application Form 

Download the application form (SPNC-1).

Unable to download the online form? 

No worries! You can collect it from the nearest Intreo Centre, Social Welfare Office, post office, or Citizens Information Centre. 

The SPNC-1 form asks for the following information:

  • Part 1: Personal details 

    • PPS number

    • Name

    • Mother’s birth surname

    • Relationship status 

    • Contact details 

  • Part 2: Work and claim details 

    • Employment status

    • Pensions allowances (received in the past)

    • Financial and bank account details

    • Property owned 

  • Part 3: Habitual residential conditions

  • Part 4: Payment details (of the Applicant)

    • Financial institution 

    • Post office 

  • Part 5: Details of the dependent child/children 

  • Part 6: Other payment details 

    • Living alone increase

    • Household benefit package 

    • Fuel Allowance 

    • Dependent’s details 

  • Part 7: Spouse’s, civil partner, or cohabitant's details

  • Part 8: Spouse’s, civil partner, or cohabitant's work and claim detail

  • Part 9: Spouse’s, civil partner, or cohabitant's payment details

    • Qualified Adult Declaration 

    • Payment details (of the spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant) 

      • Financial institution ( details of bank accounts)

      • Post office 

2. Submitting the Application Form  

Send the completed application forms via post to the following address: 

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Services

College Road


F91 T384

For further information and pension-related queries, you can contact:

Tel: (071) 915 7100 or 0818 200 400

Email: [email protected]

Applicants and pension scheme members must always inform the Department of Social Protection about any changes in their circumstances while receiving the State Pension (Non-Contributory) to avoid overpayment.

3 FAQs on the State Pension (Non-Contributory) 

Here are some commonly asked questions about the State Pension (Non-Contributory):

1. Can Irish Citizens Claim Other Benefits While Receiving the Non-Contributory Pension?

Yes, Irish citizens receiving the Non-Contributory State Pension can get extra benefits while continuing to receive their pension payments. 

Some benefits include: 

  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme: A weekly payment given to individuals lacking sufficient income to cover their or their family's essential needs.

  • Living Alone Increase: An additional income for individuals who live alone and receive a social welfare payment.

  • Free Travel Pass: Provides free public transport services to those receiving specific social welfare payments.

  • Fuel Allowance: Helps people on long-term social welfare payments by supporting fuel costs.

  • Carer's Support Grant: An annual payment for carers aged 16 or older who provide full-time care for at least six months per year.

2. What Day Is the Non-Contributory State Pension Paid in Ireland?

The State Pension (Non-Contributory) is a weekly income paid in advance every Friday. 

The Department of Social Protection may deposit the payment directly into the recipient's bank or building society account through Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT). 

Alternatively, pension scheme members can collect it from a selected post office using their Public Services Card.

3. What Happens If a Person Dies While Receiving the Non-Contributory State Pension Payment?

When a person receiving the State Pension (Non-Contributory) passes away, their spouse, surviving civil partner, or dependent should:

  • Notify the DSP and register the death with the General Register Office (GRO) within three months.

  • Return the person's Public Services Card (used to collect the payment at the Post Office). The family members can note the PPS number for their reference.

In most cases, the spouse, surviving civil partner, co-habitant, or carer can receive a payment if they have been included in the scheme to receive an increase for adult dependents. 

The payment is made for six weeks after the person's death at the same weekly rate at which it was made to the deceased member.

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Aine Kavanagh

Article written by

Aine Kavanagh

👋🏻 Hi I'm Aine, Head of Customer Success at Yonder. Whether you're a Yonder customer, a Yonder user, or you're just browsing, I hope to help educate and empower those who want to know more about owning their own benefits, and building financial autonomy 📚

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