Medical card means test: aged under 70


To qualify for a medical card your weekly income must be below a certain figure for your family size. Here we explain the means test for those who are aged under 70. See also other information about the medical card and how to apply.

There are different means test rules for those over 70 years of age.

The assessment of a couple for medical card purposes is based on the age of the older person.

Income, savings, investments and property (except for your own home) are taken into account in the means test. However, there are certain exceptions.

According to the HSE's guidelines, if your income is derived solely from social welfare allowances or benefits or HSE allowances, you should be granted a medical card even though your payment may be in excess of the income guidelines for your age and situation.

If your income is above the guidelines you will automatically be assessed for the GP visit card which has higher income limits. You can also apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme.

There are some categories of people exempt from the means test, including people entitled to a medical card under EU Regulations.

Assessment of income

Weekly income limit (gross less tax, Universal Social Charge and PRSI)

Category Aged under 66 Aged over 66
Single person living alone €184 €201.50
Single person living with family €164 €173.50
Couple, married/cohabiting/civil partners (or lone parent with dependent children) €266.50 €298
Allowance for each of first 2 children aged under 16 €38 €38
Allowance for 3rd and each subsequent child under 16 €41 €41
Allowance for each of first 2 children aged over 16 (with no income)
€39 €39
Allowance for 3rd and each subsequent child over 16 (with no income) €42.50 €42.50
Each dependant over 16 years in full-time third-level education, who is not grant aided €78 €78

Reasonable expenses for childcare costs and rent/mortgage payments will also be allowed. Mortgage-related insurance payments are allowable: fire and contents insurance, mortgage protection insurance and associated life assurance. Maintenance payments made are allowable. Nursing home costs are also allowable.

For weekly travel costs to work, the actual cost of public transport is allowable or, if a car is required, mileage at a rate of 30 cent per mile/18 cent per km. Where a couple needs two cars to travel to work, a double allowance applies. The cost of parking can be taken into account.

If your income is over the limit, the deciding officer will consider whether it would cause you undue hardship if you are refused a medical card. If you think this may apply in your case, for example, if you have high medical expenses, you can include details of your circumstances when you apply.

If you don’t qualify for a medical card, you are then assessed for a GP visit card. If your income is over the relevant limit, the deciding officer will consider whether it would be ‘unduly burdensome’ for you to pay for GP Services if you don’t have a GP visit card.

If you have children under the age of 6 and they are not eligible for medical cards then they will be given GP visit cards for children under 6.

Income not taken into account

Certain compensation awards:

  • Compensation payments made by the Residential Institutions Redress Board
  • Repayments made under the Health (Repayment) Scheme (that is, the Nursing Home repayment scheme)
  • Awards made to people who contracted Hepatitis C or HIV from contaminated blood products (together with income from the investment of that money)
  • Ex-gratia payments approved by the Lourdes Hospital Redress Board under the terms of the Lourdes Hospital Redress Scheme 2007

Certain payments made by the State:

  • HSE payments: Mobility Allowance, Blind Welfare Allowance
  • Social welfare payments: Working Family Payment, Child Benefit, Carer's Allowance, Domiciliary Care Allowance, Guardian's Payments; weekly supplements (such as a diet or heating supplement) paid under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme; Fuel, Island, Living Alone and Over 80 Allowances
  • Other payments: Third-level educational maintenance grants, Rehabilitation Maintenance Allowance, Foster Care Allowance.

Earnings while on Disability Allowance

If you are getting Disability Allowance and working, income you earn up to €427 per week is not taken into account in the means test for the medical card.

Before 3 December 2018, the limit was €120 per week. This change to the medical card means test does not affect the means test for Disability Allowance.

Assessment of capital and property

All capital (savings and investments) is taken into account for medical card purposes. However, income from savings, investments or property of €36,000 for a single person or €72,000 for a couple is disregarded.

The value of your family home is not assessed.

For amounts over the disregard limits, interest is taken into account in the means test. A notional assessment of interest is used.

Notional assessment of interest

Capital Weekly means assessed
First €36,000 (single), €72,000 (couple) Nil
Next €10,000 €1 per €1,000
Next €10,000 €2 per €1,000
Balance €4 per €1,000

Certain specified types of State compensation are not assessable. Prize bonds are included in the amount assessed.

Property (other than the family home) Where land or buildings are leased to another person, the income to be assessed will be the gross income, less any cost necessarily incurred associated with the property and such cost may include insurance premiums, loan/mortgage repayments, maintenance etc.

For land or buildings that are not being used but are capable of being leased or sold, the following assessment options can be used, with the more beneficial option applying to the applicant:

  • Notional assessment of the rental/lease “going rate” for the area.
  • Assessment of capital value as in the table for capital, above.

Further information

Read more information about the medical card, including how to apply.

The HSE has published Medical Card National Assessment Guidelines.

Page edited: 23 January 2019