Claiming for an adult dependant
If you qualify for a social welfare payment you get an amount for yourself, which is called the 'personal rate of payment'.
You may also get an extra amount for your adult dependant (called a qualified adult) which is paid as an increase to your personal payment (called an Increase for a Qualified Adult or IQA). An adult dependant is usually your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. A cohabitant is one of two adults (whether of the same or opposite sex) who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who are not close relatives.
To get an IQA your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant must meet the conditions set by the Department of Social Protection - see 'Rules' below. The person does not have to be totally dependent on you (for example, they may be working and earning or have income from other sources) but any income they have must be below a certain level - see 'Income limits' below.
If you have dependent children you may also get an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC).
To claim an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) you must be getting a social welfare personal payment.
The habitual residence condition does not apply to increases for qualified dependents (spouses, civil partners, cohabitants or children). This means that dependents do not have to satisfy the habitual residence condition in their own right. For example, the qualified dependant may be an asylum seeker if the normal conditions are met.
An IQA is not normally payable on behalf of a spouse or civil partner who is absent from the State or in prison. However Jobseeker's Benefit claimants can claim an IQA for an adult dependent living in another EEA state if the dependent adult meets the criteria. You can find more information about going abroad and social welfare payments.
Who is an adult dependent?
Only one IQA for an adult dependent can be paid with your social welfare payment.
An adult dependent is a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant that you are wholly or mainly financially supporting. If you are divorced or separated from your spouse or civil partner, you may continue to get an IQA, if you are wholly or mainly financially supporting them.
A person over 16 years of age who lives with you and you are wholly or mainly maintaining can be considered an adult dependent, if they are caring for a child that you are getting an IQC for.
You will not get an IQA if your spouse, partner or cohabitant is not considered your dependent. For example, your spouse, civil partner of cohabitant will not be considered an adult dependent if they have a social welfare payment in their own right, except for:
- Child Benefit
- Disablement Benefit
- Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Foster Care Allowance
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory) and (Non-Contributory)
- Half-rate Carer's Allowance
- Occupational Injuries Death Benefit in respect of an orphan
- Supplementary Welfare Allowance
Find out more about when your spouse, partner or cohabitant is not considered an adult dependent.
Social assistance payments
If you are getting a social assistance (means-tested) payment, your adult dependant's income is assessed in the means test for your payment. In the case of Jobseeker's Allowance (JA), Disability Allowance (DA) and Farm Assist (FA) your household income is assessed in the means test. Your total household means are then deducted from the maximum payment (this is the personal rate including any increases for adult and child dependants) to find the actual amount of JA, DA or FA you are entitled to.
You can find out more on our page about assessing the means of a couple for social assistance payments.
Social insurance payments
For most social insurance payments your adult dependant cannot have gross weekly earnings or income (before tax and PRSI deductions) of more than €310. If your adult dependant earns less than €100 you will get a full Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA). If your adult dependant earns between €100 and €310 you will get a reduced rate of IQA (sometimes called a tapered rate of IQA). If your adult dependant is earning more than €310 you will not get an IQA. You can find out what the tapered rate of IQA for your payment is in the Department of Social Protection's SW19 (Rates of Payment) booklet.
Means test for social insurance payments
Social insurance payments are based on PRSI contributions and so your payment is not means tested. However if you wish to claim for a dependent their income will be assessed. An adult dependant's income is assessed for social insurance payments as follows:
Employment and self-employment - Your spouse's, civil partner's or cohabitant's average weekly income from employment or self-employment is assessed (the gross weekly income is assessed, no deductions are allowed for tax, PRSI contributions or personal expenses). If paid on a monthly basis, the weekly average income over the previous 2 months is calculated. If he or she is paid weekly or fortnightly, the weekly average over the previous 6 weeks is used.
Community Employment (CE) is treated like work - your adult dependant's gross weekly earnings from CE are assessed.
For self-employment the income received in the last completed tax year is divided by 52 to get the average weekly income.
Capital - Income from capital, for example, property, savings and investments, is included in the mean test. If you and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant hold capital jointly, half of the value is assessed as belonging to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant.
If property is owned jointly or only by your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant the rental income from the property is assessed for payment of an Increase for a Qualified Adult with your social insurance payment. However, the capital value will be assessed if the property is not rented.
You can find out more about how capital is valued in the means test in our document Capital and social welfare payments.
Income from other sources - Income from other sources includes rental income from the letting of property, income from an occupational pension, foreign social welfare payments, income from a trust fund, income under a deed of covenant, other cash income, etc.,
It is calculated on a weekly basis. Some social welfare payments are not taken into account as income including Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Supplementary Welfare Allowance. You can read more about income not counted in the means test in our document, Cash income not included in the means test.
How your Increase for a Qualified Adult is paid
If you qualify for an increase in your social welfare payment for an adult dependant it will be paid directly to you as part of your main payment. However, if you both consent, you can have the Increase for a Qualified Adult paid directly to your adult dependant.
In some cases, if there are difficulties in the home, (for example, gambling or alcohol abuse) an adult dependant can have more than just the Increase for a Qualified Adult paid directly to him or her without your consent. This generally happens as a result of an investigation by a Social Welfare Inspector.
If you apply for the State Pension (Contributory) or State Pension (Non-Contributory) the Increase for a Qualified Adult will automatically be paid directly to your adult dependant. However, your adult dependant may choose to have it paid with your payment instead.
If you are currently getting a State Pension (Contributory) and wish to apply for an Increase for a Qualified Adult for your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant you should fill in form SPCQA1(pdf).
Increase for a Qualified Adult rates 2023
|Social welfare payment
Increase for Qualified Adult
Increase for Qualified Adult
State Pension (Contributory)
€161.10 (Qualified adults who were over 66 before 2 January 2014 can continue to get a higher rate.)
State (Non-Contributory) Pension
|The State Pension (Non-Contributory) is not paid for qualified adults over 66. When your qualified adult reaches 66 they can apply for a State (Non-Contributory) Pension in their own right.|
Jobseeker's Benefit (Self-Employed)
How to apply
To get an Increase for a Qualified Adult you must give details about your adult dependant on your claim form when you are making your claim for a social welfare payment.
If you did not claim for your adult dependant at the time you were making your claim, contact the section in the Department of Social Protection which pays your social welfare payment.
Where to apply
You apply to the section in the Department of Social Protection that pays your social welfare payment. The Department provides a general information telephone number: 0818 662 244