Guardian's and orphan's payments
If you are taking care of an orphan, you may get a social welfare payment. It is not necessary to be a legally appointed guardian. You may get such a payment if the orphan lives with you and you are responsible for his or her care. The payment must benefit the orphan.
If an orphan is attending a full-time education course, is aged between 18 and 22 years of age and is not living with or in the care of a guardian, the payment can be paid directly to the orphan.
The payment can be contributory (based on PRSI payments paid by the parent) or non-contributory (based on a means-test).
You can claim only one of the following:
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory) previously called Orphan's (Contributory) Allowance
- Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) previously called Orphan's (Non-Contributory) Pension
- Death Benefit/Orphan's Pension awarded under the Occupational Injuries Scheme.
You cannot get one of these payments and a Foster Care Allowance together.
Budget 2024: increase to Guardian's Payments
It was announced in Budget 2024 that people on the maximum rate of Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) and Guardian's Payment (Contributory)will get an increase of €12 per week from January 2024. There will be proportional increases for qualified adults and people on reduced rates of payment.
Taxation of payments to guardians
Social welfare payments made for the benefit of an orphan are taxable. However, these payments are regarded as the beneficial property of the orphan and are therefore assessable against their income (if any), not against the income of the guardian.
A child is regarded as an orphan if:
- They are under 18 (or 22 if in full-time education)
- Both parents are dead, or
- One parent is either dead or unknown or has abandoned and failed to provide for the child, and
- The other parent is unknown or has abandoned and failed to provide for the child.
Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
If either parent or step-parent had worked at any time and paid PRSI for 26 weeks, the orphan is entitled to the Guardian's Payment (Contributory). This may be paid for an orphan living in the State or abroad and is not means tested. Payment is made to the orphan's guardian up to the child's 18th birthday or 22nd birthday if they are in full-time education.
Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
This is a non-contributory payment for orphans who are not entitled to the contributory payment. The means test for this is based on the orphan's means. Payment is made to their guardian up to the orphan's 18th birthday or 22nd birthday if they are in full-time education.
You must be 'habitually resident' in Ireland to qualify for Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory). Find out more about habitual residence.
EU citizens who are employed or self-employed in Ireland will satisfy the habitual residence criteria to qualify for Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) under EU Regulations.
Death Benefit/Orphan's Pension awarded under the Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme
Under the Occupational Injuries Scheme, a slightly higher pension may be payable to the guardian of an orphan if the parent, step-parent or person who was supporting the orphaned child or children:
- Died as a result of an accident at work
- Died as a result of an occupational disease
- Was getting Disablement Pension assessed at 50% or more at the time of their death.
This payment is not means tested and there are no specific PRSI requirements (as long as at least one week of PRSI has been paid).
In 2023, the Guardian's Payment (Contributory) is paid at a standard rate of €203 per week and the maximum Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) is €203 per week.
Whether or not you get the maximum Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) will depend on the means test (this is carried out on the orphan's means - if any). If the orphan has means from work the first €7.60 is not assessed. If the orphan’s weekly means are more than €7.60 the Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) is reduced by €2.50 for each €2.50 assessed (that is, for each €2.50 or part of €2.50 of means over the amount of €7.60). See SW19 for a table of how an orphan’s means affect a Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory).
The Death Benefit/Orphan's Pension payable under the Occupation Injuries Scheme is €206.80.
How to apply
Guardian's Payment (Contributory) and Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
To apply, fill in Form GP1 (pdf). You can also get an application form at your local post office.
Where to apply
For Guardian's Payment:
For Death Benefit/Orphan's Pension:
If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre, Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.