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Depending on your personal, familial, and financial circumstances, you may be eligible for social welfare supports when you return to Ireland. Read on for what you should consider regarding social welfare prior to returning and an overview of social welfare payments provided by the Department of Social Protection.

Benefits Abroad

Before returning to Ireland, check if you are able to transfer any of the benefits you are currently receiving abroad. You can read more about this here. In some cases, it is possible to continue receiving a social welfare payment from another country in the European Union (EU) or United Kingdom when you return to Ireland. Contact your local welfare office or the body that pays you for more information.

Depending on your situation, you may not have the same entitlements that you currently have abroad or you may not be immediately eligible – if you know you will need financial assistance when you return, this is important to factor into your decision-making and planning.

Overview of Social Welfare in Ireland

There are three types of social welfare payments in Ireland:

  1. Social Insurance Payments are based on your social insurance contributions. You may also be able to combine your Irish social insurance contributions with those you made abroad to help qualify this type of payment e.g. State Pension (Contributory). You can include your dependant family members in your application, including minor children and your spouse/partner.
  2. Social Assistance Payments require you to satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC). In most cases, you will also need to satisfy a means test. Examples of social assistance payments include Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, and State Pension (Non-Contributory). You can include your dependant family members in your application, including minor children and your spouse/partner.
  3. Universal Payments are not means tested, but you must still satisfy HRC to qualify for these. Child Benefit is one example of a universal payment.

There is no automatic entitlement to access social welfare payments in Ireland as an Irish citizen. To qualify you will need to satisfy payment related criteria, and either have enough social insurance contributions, or satisfy the HRC (see below) and a means test in some cases.

For more information on every type of social welfare payment, including qualifying criteria and rates of payment, see the Department of Social Protection website.

Habitual Residence Condition (HRC)

To receive a social assistance payment, like Jobseeker’s Allowance, you need to show that Ireland is your main centre of residence as part of the HRC. Irish citizens returning from abroad can sometimes face challenges meeting this requirement.

While you do not have to be living in Ireland for a certain period of time to be considered habitually resident, you must show that your main centre of interest is now in Ireland. It is helpful to keep this in mind before you move, and bring supporting documents with you to help with this. Read our comprehensive guide for detailed information on HRC, including a list of documents to provide with your application.

Habitual Residence Condition

Applying for a Social Welfare Payment

Before you can apply for any social welfare payment, you will need a PPS Number.

You can apply for most social welfare payments online at MyWelfare.ie. To do this, you will first need to set get a Public Services Card and then set up a verified MyGovID account. You can read more about applying for social welfare payments online at the Citizens Information website.

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply using a paper application form. You can request the relevant form from your local Intreo Centre.

Interim and Additional Needs Payments

It can take some time for social welfare applications to be processed. If you need financial assistance while you are waiting for your main social welfare application to be processed, there are other supports you can apply for:

• Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is an interim weekly payment for which you must satisfy a means test and the Habitual Residence Condition
• The Additional Needs Payment (including Exceptional Needs and Urgent Needs payments) is usually a one off payment to help with expenses that you cannot cover from your weekly income. You can avail of this if you live in Ireland and have an income below the weekly household income limit, which varies based on your circumstances (learn more at Citizens Information)

If you need help with applying for a social welfare payment on return, contact us.

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Page last updated on 12 February, 2024

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