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 Employment Affairs and 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. Your adult dependant must not have a social welfare payment in his or her 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
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.
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.
For most social welfare 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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection's SW19 (Rates of Payment) booklet.
The rules are different for Jobseeker's Allowance (JA), Pre-Retirement Allowance (PRETA), Disability Allowance (DA) and Farm Assist (FA). For these payments 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, PRETA or FA you are entitled to.
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant has a social welfare payment (see exceptions above) in their own right or is on a FET or VTOS course and getting an allowance in his or her own right, you cannot get an IQA on their behalf but you can get a half-rate increase for each qualified child.
Separation, civil partners not living together, divorce or a dissolved civil partnership
If you are separated but giving your spouse or civil partner a weekly maintenance payment which is at least €134.70 per week (the same as the current rate of IQA for Jobseeker's Allowance) you can get an IQA with your personal social welfare payment. Your spouse or civil partner must not be cohabiting with someone else. To get the full rate of IQA your spouse or civil partner must not have weekly income above €100 excluding maintenance. If your spouse or civil partner has income between €100 and €310 you may get a reduced rate of IQA. There are no reduced rates of IQA for JA, PRETA, DA and FA (see above).
Adult dependants who are not your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant
If you are single, widowed, divorced, separated, a former civil partner or not living with your civil partner, and living with a person aged 16 or over who does not have weekly income above €100, you can claim an increase for them if he or she is caring for a child dependant of yours.
If he or she has income between €100 and €310 you may get a reduced rate of IQA. If you are separated or not living with your civil partner, you must not be living with or be wholly maintained by your spouse or civil partner. There are no reduced rates of IQA for JA, PRETA, DA and FA (see above).
Means test for 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. You can find out more in our document, Assessing the means of a couple for social assistance payments.
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 two months is calculated. If he or she is paid weekly or fortnightly, the weekly average over the previous six weeks is used.
For self-employment the income received in the last completed tax year is divided by 52 to get the average weekly income.
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 from March 2019
|Social welfare payment
Increase for Qualified Adult
Increase for Qualified
€148.90 (Qualified adults who were over 66 before 2 January 2014 can continue to get a higher rate.)
|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.|
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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection which pays your social welfare payment.
Where to apply
You apply to the section in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that pays your social welfare payment. The Department provides a general information telephone number: 1890 66 22 44