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:
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.
From 6 April 2015 you need 520 paid PRSI contributions (10 years) to be eligible to make voluntary contributions:
To be eligible to make voluntary contributions you must:
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.
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:
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:
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.
You can also get this form from your social welfare local office.
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.