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Capital and social welfare payments

Information

If you are applying for a social assistance payment you must satisfy a means test. All your sources of income (for example, cash income, employment, capital and maintenance) are assessed by the Department of Social Protection (DSP).

The purpose of this document is to explain how the DSP assesses your means from capital for social welfare payments (with the exception of Family Income Supplement as capital is not assessed in this income test). More information on other sources of income and income not taken into account is available in our document on the means test.

Rules

To find your means from capital, first you must calculate your total capital value. You do this by adding together all your sources of capital (for example, property, savings and investments). Then you apply the relevant formula below.

The formula for assessing means from capital for all social welfare payments (except Disability Allowance and Supplementary Welfare Allowance) is as follows:

Capital Weekly means assessed
First €20,000 Nil
Next €10,000 €1 per €1,000
Next €10,000 €2 per €1,000
Balance €4 per €1,000

The formula for assessing means from capital for Disability Allowance is as follows:

Capital Weekly means assessed
First €50,000 Nil
Next €10,000 €1 per €1,000
Next €10,000 €2 per €1,000
Balance (any capital over €70,000) €4 per €1,000

The formula for assessing means from capital for Supplementary Welfare Allowance is as follows:

Capital Weekly means assessed
First €5,000 Nil
Next €10,000 €1 per €1,000
Next €25,000 €2 per €1,000
Balance €4 per €1,000

How property is treated

Your own home

The home in which you live is not included in the assessment of your means from capital unless you are getting an income from it. If you are getting an income from your home (for example, if you have rented a room in the house) that income is assessed. However, income from renting a room in your home is not assessed if you are getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory) or a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension and not renting the room means that you would be living alone.

Selling your home

If you sell your home, the proceeds of the sale are normally taken into account as means. If you are living in accommodation which no longer suits you or which you are no longer able to maintain, you may be able to sell your home and move to more suitable accommodation and have up to €190,500 of the proceeds of the sale exempt from the means test.

This exemption only applies if you are getting one of the following payments:

  • State Pension (Non-Contributory)
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension (if you are 66 years of age or over)
  • Disability Allowance
  • Blind Pension

The exemption only applies if you are getting one of the above social welfare payments and sell your house in order to:

  • Buy or rent more suitable alternative accommodation
  • Move into a private nursing home which is registered under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990
  • Move in with a person who getting a carer's payment to care for you
  • Move to sheltered or special housing in the voluntary, co-operative, statutory or private sectors

Usually the first €190,500 of the sale proceeds is not taken into account. However, if you use the proceeds of the sale to buy more suitable accommodation, the balance of the proceeds after buying the new accommodation is exempt up to a limit of €190,500.

Investment income from the sale of your home

Any benefit you get from investing the sale proceeds is assessable as means. Any interest paid and retained is assessable as capital.

However, the Department of Social Protection's Operational Guidelines on Means Assessment state that an allowance should be made where a person has significant maintenance expenses, such as nursing home costs, which are met out of interest payments. In such cases, the interest on the exempted capital (up to a maximum of €190,500) may be disregarded as means.

Leaving your home but not selling
If, due to old age or incapacity, you leave your home either on a temporary basis or indefinitely, the value of your home will not be assessed as means. However, if it is put to profitable use (for example, rented out), the capital value of the house will then be assessed as means.

Second homes and income from lettings

The home in which you live is not included in the assessment of your means from capital (see above). If you own a house which is let, you are assessed on the capital value of the property. You will not be assessed on the income from the letting. Any outstanding mortgage registered against the property is deducted from the market value to find the capital value.

However, if the mortgage on the home in which you live has been re-structured to raise capital to buy the second property, this re-structured mortgage will not be deducted from the capital assessment of the second property.

For all second homes the property must be capable of being sold, let or put to profitable use before a capital value assessment is applied.

More information about the assessment of capital as means can be found on the Department of Social Protection website.

Situations where rental income is assessed

Usually income from renting a property is not assessed. However there are some situations where rental income is assessed.

  • If you have a life interest in a property the rental income is assessed instead of the capital value.
  • If you are claiming an increase for a qualified adult with your social insurance payment and if your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant owns property (in their own right or jointly with you) rental income from this property will be assessed for payment of an Increase for a Qualified Adult . This rental income is assessed as cash in the means test and the capital value of the property is not assessed. However, the capital value will be assessed in the normal way if the property is not rented – see ‘Capital value’ above.
  • If you apply for Family Income Supplement (FIS) rental income from the letting of property or land will be taken into account when assessing your income (the capital value is not assessed).

Assessment of capital for couples

If you have a joint account with your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, legally the total amount in the account is owned by each of you. Therefore it could be assessed in full against each of you. However, if you and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant are both getting means-tested social assistance payments, it will be assessed either on a shared basis or against only one of you. You can read more about assessing the means of a couple for social assistance payments.

Further information

Using the table below - find your total capital value and your weekly means as assessed by the Department of Social Protection.

Capital/Savings
From € To € Assessed Means €
0.00 20,999.99 0.00
21,000.00 21,999.99 1.00
22,000.00 22,999.99 2.00
23,000.00 23,999.99 3.00
24,000.00 24,999.99 4.00
25,000.00 25,999.99 5.00
26,000.00 26,999.99 6.00
27,000.00 27,999.99 7.00
28,000.00 28,999.99 8.00
29,000.00 29,999.99 9.00
30,000.00 30,999.99 10.00
31,000.00 31,999.99 12.00
32,000.00 32,999.99 14.00
33,000.00 33,999.99 16.00
34,000.00 34,999.99 18.00
35,000.00 35,999.99 20.00
36,000.00 36,999.99 22.00
37,000.00 37,999.99 24.00
38,000.00 38,999.99 26.00
39,000.00 39,999.99 28.00
40,000.00 40,999.99 30.00
41,000.00 41,999.99 34.00
42,000.00 42,999.99 38.00
43,000.00 43,999.99 42.00
44,000.00 44,999.99 46.00
45,000.00 45,999.99 50.00
46,000.00 46,999.99 54.00
47,000.00 47,999.99 58.00
48,000.00 48,999.99 62.00
49,000.00 49,999.99 66.00
50,000.00 50,999.99 70.00
51,000.00 51,999.99 74.00
52,000.00 52,999.99 78.00
53,000.00 53,999.99 82.00
54,000.00 54,999.99 86.00
55,000.00 55,999.99 90.00
56,000.00 56,999.99 94.00
57,000.00 57,999.99 98.00
58,000.00 58,999.99 102.00
59,000.00 59,999.99 106.00
60,000.00 60,999.99 110.00
61,000.00 61,999.99 114.00
62,000.00 62,999.99 118.00
63,000.00 63,999.99 122.00
64,000.00 64,999.99 126.00
65,000.00 65,999.99 130.00
66,000.00 66,999.99 134.00
67,000.00 67,999.99 138.00
68,000.00 68,999.99 142.00
69,000.00 69,999.99 146.00
70,000.00 70,999.99 150.00
71,000.00 71,999.99 154.00
72,000.00 72,999.99 158.00
73,000.00 73,999.99 162.00
74,000.00 74,999.99 166.00
75,000.00 75,999.99 170.00
76,000.00 76,999.99 174.00
77,000.00 77,999.99 178.00
78,000.00 78,999.99 182.00
79,000.00 79,999.99 186.00
80,000.00 80,999.99 190.00
81,000.00 81,999.99 194.00
82,000.00 82,999.99 198.00
83,000.00 83,999.99 202.00
84,000.00 84,999.99 206.00
85,000.00 85,999.99 210.00
86,000.00 86,999.99 214.00
87,000.00 87,999.99 218.00
88,000.00 88,999.99 222.00
89,000.00 89,999.99 226.00
90,000.00 90,999.99 230.00
91,000.00 91,999.99 234.00
92,000.00 92,999.99 238.00
93,000.00 93,999.99 242.00
94,000.00 94,999.99 246.00
95,000.00 95,999.99 250.00
96,000.00 96,999.99 254.00
97,000.00 97,999.99 258.00
98,000.00 98,999.99 262.00
99,000.00 99,999.99 266.00
100,000.00 100,999.99 270.00
101,000.00 101,999.99 274.00
102,000.00 102,999.99 278.00
103,000.00 103,999.99 282.00
104,000.00 104,999.99 286.00
105,000.00 105,999.99 290.00
106,000.00 106,999.99 294.00
107,000.00 107,999.99 298.00
108,000.00 108,999.99 302.00
109,000.00 109,999.99 306.00
110,000.00 110,999.99 310.00
111,000.00 111,999.99 314.00
112,000.00 112,999.99 318.00
113,000.00 113,999.99 322.00
114,000.00 114,999.99 326.00
115,000.00 115,999.99 330.00
116,000.00 116,999.99 334.00
117,000.00 117,999.99 338.00
118,000.00 118,999.99 342.00
119,000.00 119,999.99 346.00
120,000.00 120,999.99 350.00
121,000.00 121,999.99 354.00
122,000.00 122,999.99 358.00
123,000.00 123,999.99 362.00
124,000.00 124,999.99 366.00
125,000.00 125,999.99 370.00
126,000.00 126,999.99 374.00
127,000.00 127,999.99 378.00
128,000.00 128,999.99 382.00
129,000.00 129,999.99 386.00
130,000.00 130,999.99 390.00
Page edited: 27 April 2015

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.