Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) provides a basic weekly allowance to eligible people who have little or no income. People with low incomes may also qualify for a weekly supplement payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme to meet certain special needs, for example, help with rent/mortgage interest payments or for urgent or exceptional needs.
If you have no income, you may be entitled to the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance. If your weekly income is below the Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your family size, a payment may be made to bring your income up to the appropriate Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate. If you have claimed a social welfare benefit or pension but it has not yet been paid and you have no other income, you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance while you are waiting for your payment.
Supplementary Welfare Allowance is not a taxable source of income.
You will normally qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you satisfy the following conditions:
You will not normally qualify for basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you are:
* This condition does not apply to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. However any income they have from work is taken into account in the means test.
The main items taken into account for the means test include:
All cash income: including most social welfare and Health Service Executive payments, except Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Blind Welfare Allowance. This also includes all financial compensation except compensation awarded by a court to people who contracted Hepatitis C through the use of Human Immunoglobulin-Anti-D or through receiving blood products or blood transfusions in Ireland, the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunals, the Residential Institutions Redress Board, or for disability caused by use of the drug Thalidomide.
From June 2007, Guardian's Payment (Contributory), Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) and the Respite Care Grant are not taken into account in the means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
Rehabilitative employment: Up to €120 from rehabilitative employment is disregarded.
The value of any benefit or privilege: If you are 24 years of age or under and and you are living with a parent or a step-parent in the family home, some of your parents' income will also be taken into account in the assessment for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. The Department of Social Protection calls this an assessment of the 'benefit and privilege' you get from living with your parents. Find out how benefit and privilege is assessed in the means test.
The value of investments, savings or property (but not the value of your own home) is calculated as follows:
|Capital||Weekly means assessed|
|First €5,000||not taken into account|
|Next €10,000||€1 per €1,000|
|Next €25,000||€2 per €1,000|
|Balance||€4 per €1,000|
If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting your total income is added together in the means test.
In certain circumstances, you may have to repay any assistance you have received under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. For example:
If Supplementary Welfare Allowance is paid while you are waiting for a social welfare benefit, assistance or pension, the amount paid will be deducted from the arrears of your social welfare payment.
If you are paid an Urgent Needs Payment, you may have to pay back all or part of what you have been paid if you are working or once an insurance claim is settled.
The basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is made up of a personal rate for the applicant and additional amounts for any adult dependant and/or child dependant(s). A child dependant is a person under the age of 18 who lives with you and depends on you for financial support. If you have been getting SWA for at least 27 weeks, the age limit is 22 for a child dependant in full-time education or up to the end of the academic year after their 22nd birthday.
|Personal rate||Increase for a Qualified Adult||Increase for a Qualified Child|
|Age||Personal rate||Increase for a Qualified Adult|
|18 - 24||€100||€100|
Reduced rates of Supplementary Welfare Allowance for claimants under 26 years of age do not apply to:
There are no reductions in rates for existing claimants aged between 18 and 25 who were getting a higher rate before the changes on 9 January 2014. (People aged 18-21 got €100, people aged 22-24 got €144 and at 25 the full personal SWA rate was payable.) However their payments will increase in line with the new rates.
For example, John turned 22 on 5 January 2014. He has been claiming SWA since January 2013 and his rate increased from €100 to €144 on 5 January 2014. John can continue to get a rate of €144. If John continues to claim SWA his rate will increase to €186 on his 26th birthday.
Mary is aged 21 and gets an SWA payment of €100. If Mary continues to claim SWA her rate will increase to €144 on her 25th birthday and to €186 on her 26th birthday.
You should apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance to the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) as soon as the need arises. You must fill in a Supplementary Welfare Allowance claim form (pdf). To help process your claim, you should have the following:
You have the right to appeal against a decision if you are not satisfied
with the outcome of your claim. You can appeal
to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Social Welfare
Appeals Office deals with appeals relating to basic SWA and SWA supplements but
does not decide on appeals relating to Exceptional or Urgent Needs Payments.
You should contact the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly the Community Welfare Officer) at your 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.