How to claim a social welfare payment in Ireland

To claim a social insurance benefit it is normal to have a minimum number of PRSI contributions. These are normally classified as PRSI paid or PRSI credited. There is no charge for PRSI credits but for many benefits they can be as valuable as PRSI contributions paid.

If you stop paying PRSI contributions, PRSI credits are normally awarded for the weeks you receive illness benefit, job-seekers benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity pension or injury benefit etc.

Employees who earn €352 or less per week are exempt from PRSI however employer’s PRSI is still payable.

A person who ceases to be insured under PRSI can, if under 66 years of age, opt to continue insurance on a voluntary basis for limited benefits, provided at least 520 weeks PRSI contributions have been paid.

Benefits awarded are not means tested. You are entitled to them as a right once you satisfy the necessary contribution conditions, the most important one being the state contributory pension.

Qualifying for the state contributory pension in Ireland

Your entitlement to a contributory pension is based on the amount and contribution class of PRSI you have paid during your working life. Any other income you have, will not affect your entitlement to a contributory pension.  This is paid to insured people from the age of 66 and it is paid to you even if you are still working. If you don’t qualify for a contributory pension you may be entitled to a non-contributory pension. Any income or assets you have, may affect your entitlement to a non-contributory pension. To claim this you must be aged 66 or over, be living in the state and satisfy a means test.

Your entitlement to the contributory widower/surviving civil partner’s pension is not affected by any other income you may have. “Contributory” means you are only entitled to them if you have made PRSI contributions in the past. Non-contributory pension is means tested and available to those who haven’t made any contributions during their working lives. If you are in receipt of the state pension (contributory) you will qualify for the PAYE tax credit. If you have worked in another EU country and made the equivalent of PRSI contributions in that country, it is worthwhile giving this detail to the social welfare office in case this would enhance your claim for benefits in Ireland.

If you were born after 1 January 1954 you will need a total of 40 years contributions and/or credits to get the maximum state pension. You will be able to get the minimum state pension if you have paid 520 full-rate contributions. People who take time out of the workforce to take up caring duties will be eligible to accumulate up to 20 years credits towards meeting the full 40 year contribution record.

If you are unsure about your social welfare history you can write to with your PRSI number to:

Department of Social Protection

Aras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1.

Other Benefits

Dental and optical benefits and medical appliances scheme (hearing aids) is extended to self employed people from March 2017. This covers dental benefits, contact lenses and hearing aids.

Maternity Benefit

Maternity benefit is not payable on your spouse’s insurance. It is payable only where the mother is an insured person and satisfies the PRSI conditions on her own insurance record. If you are going overseas within the EU and wish to claim maternity benefit, Form E104 is required. The European Health Insurance Card is required to claim health service benefits in EU countries excluding the UK. Maternity Benefits are a taxable source of income, as is illness benefit, paternity and job-seekers benefit. You should contact your tax office when you receive a social welfare payment to ensure that any tax due on that payment will be paid by you.   

Health and safety payment

This is a weekly payment for women insured at Class A,E, or H who are pregnant or have recently had a baby or are breastfeeding (up to 26 weeks) and who have been awarded health and safety leave under the Maternity Protection Act 1994. This leave is granted to an employee by her employer when the employer cannot remove a risk to the employee’s health or safety, her pregnancy, breastfeeding or assign her alternative “risk free” duties. I am sure the instances of this applying are quite rare but could be worth bearing in mind.


To discuss your social welfare history please book a consultation by emailing