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Voluntary social insurance contributions

Introduction

Paying social insurance can help you to qualify for social insurance payments, such as the State Pension (Contributory). If you are an employee Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) deductions are made from your earnings each week.

If you are no longer an employee or if you are self-employed and you are no longer making compulsory PRSI contributions, you can opt to make voluntary contributions. If you are getting a social welfare payment or signing for credits you may get credited contributions which will also keep your social insurance record up to date.

Voluntary contributions can help maintain your social insurance record and help you to qualify for social insurance payments in the future. They cover long-term benefits such as pensions. They do not cover short-term benefits for illness, maternity or jobseekers.

You can choose to pay voluntary contributions (if you are under 66 and meet the other conditions) if you:

  • Are no longer covered by compulsory PRSI in Ireland
  • Are no longer covered by PRSI on a compulsory or voluntary basis in another EU country

If you are working outside the EU and not subject to Irish or EU social insurance contributions you may also opt to pay voluntary contributions.

If you are taking time off work to care for children under 12 years of age, or a disabled child or adult, the Homemaker’s Scheme may be a better option than making voluntary contributions.

Changes to PRSI requirements for voluntary contributors

From 2015 you will need 520 PRSI contributions to be eligible to make voluntary contributions:

  • People who become voluntary contributors after 6 April 2014 but before 6 April 2015 will need 468 PRSI contributions (9 years)
  • People becoming voluntary contributors from 6 April 2015 will need 520 PRSI contributions (10 years)
  • People who became voluntary contributors after 6 April 2013 but before 6 April 2014 needed 364 PRSI contributions (7 years)

Rules

To be eligible to make voluntary contributions you must:

  • Have at least 468 weeks PRSI paid under compulsory insurance in either employment or self-employment
  • Apply to make your voluntary contribution within 12 months of the end of the last completed tax year (contribution year) during which you last paid compulsory insurance or you were last awarded a credited contribution
  • Agree to pay voluntary contributions from the start of the contribution week that follows the week in which you leave compulsory insurance

The contribution year is the same as the income tax year so it runs from January to December.

You cannot use contributions paid in Class J to satisfy these conditions. However, you may pay PRSI at Class J and voluntary contributions at the same time. You stop paying voluntary contributions either when you reach 66 years of age or start paying PRSI again.

If you are getting a State Pension (Transition) at 65 years of age you do not need to pay further voluntary contributions.

Rates

There are three rates of voluntary contributions. The rate of voluntary contribution you pay is linked to the last PRSI contribution paid or credited by you. More information is available about paying social insurance.

If you paid PRSI at Class A, E or H you pay a high rate contribution of 6.6% of your reckonable income in the previous tax year, subject to a minimum payment of €500. The social insurance payments you may be entitled to by making voluntary contributions at this rate are:

If you paid PRSI at Class B, C or D you pay a low rate contribution of 2.6% of your reckonable income in the previous tax year, subject to a minimum payment of €250. The social insurance payments you may be entitled to by making voluntary contributions at this rate are:

  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension
  • Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

If you paid PRSI at Class S you pay a special flat rate of €500. The social insurance payments you may be entitled to by making voluntary contributions at this rate are:

  • State Pension (Contributory)
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension
  • Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

You can pay voluntary contributions by cheque, banker’s draft or standing order. Your contribution can be paid as a lump sum before the end of the contribution year or by quarterly or half-yearly installments during the contribution year. You must pay the full contribution for a year no later than 5 months after the end of the year in which the payment is due.

You can read more about voluntary contributions on the Department of Social Protection's website.

Where to apply

Voluntary Contributions Section

Department of Social Protection
Cork Road
Waterford
Ireland

Tel:(051) 356 000
Locall:1890 690 690
Fax:(051) 877 838
Homepage: http://www.welfare.ie/
Email: volcons@welfare.ie

Page updated: 7 April 2014

Language

Gaeilge

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  • Social insurance classes
    The social welfare benefits you can get are determined by the PRSI Class you are in. An overview of social insurance classes.

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.