The Social Welfare Acts provide for two principal state pensions, commonly called the old age pension. The State Contributory pension requires satisfaction of social insurance contributions either paid or credited. The State Non-Contributory pension is means tested. The pensions were formerly, called the old age contributory or non-contributory pension.

A person may qualify for the State Non-Contributory pension if he:

  • is 66 years or over,
  • satisfies the means test and
  • is  habitually resident in the State.

See the separate chapter in relation to the means test. It covers income and assets of the person concerned and his spouse. It embraces certain benefits in kind but  excludes certain personally used property. If assets are disposed of for the purpose of obtaining the pension they are still deemed to be owned and are assessed, for the purpose of the means test.

The pension is a flat rate pension with additional payments for  certain spouses and qualifying children.

The rates increase at the age of 80.

The general household benefits are available; see the section on these benefits.

Only a spouse residing with the claimant not in receipt of a payment in his or her own right qualifies.

A spouse and civil partner include a party to a marriage, who has been validly dissolved.  Where both spouses are over 66, each commonly  qualifies for Non-Contributory state pension.

A means test takes account of most assets owned by the person and/or his or her spouse.  It excludes personally owned assets.  It takes account of income or income reasonably expected to be received by the person or their spouse.  It takes account of the advantage of use of property other than a domestic demanding or farm building owned and occupied (furniture and personal effects) that are personality used or enjoyed by the person and  the advantage of any leasing of a farm;

It takes account of assets and property which a person has deprived himself of, in order to qualify for the pension. There are special provisions for overpayment on death.

A flat-rate is paid.  There are increases for qualified children.  Different qualified adult rules apply.  Increments are paid where the person concerned is living with or is wholly maintaining his or her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, who is not in receipt of a pension in their own right.

That person may however, be in receipt of the pension if over pensionable age.  There are additional payments in the case of persons over 80 years of age.  Household benefits are usually payable.

A person is disqualified if receiving a contributory pension if he is undergoing imprisonment.

A non-contributory pension is not payable outside the State, generally.  It is subject to a habitual residence requirement.


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