Combining social insurance contributions from abroad
Ireland has social security arrangements with other countries that allow you to combine social insurance contributions that you have paid in Ireland with social insurance contributions that you have paid in another country. This can help you to qualify for a social insurance payment in Ireland or in a country with whom Ireland has a social security arrangement.
Social security arrangements that Ireland has with other countries can be divided broadly into two groups:
- Countries covered by European Union (EU) regulations
- Countries with whom Ireland has Bilateral Social Security Agreements
Brexit and social insurance payments
An Agreement on social security was signed by Ireland and the United Kingdom on 1 February 2019. Under the terms of the agreement, all existing arrangements with regard to recognition of, and access to, social insurance entitlements will be maintained in both jurisdictions. This means that the rights of Irish citizens living in Ireland to benefit from social insurance contributions made when working in the UK will be protected and vice versa. However, the Agreement has not yet been ratified.
Countries covered by EU regulations
Social security provisions have existed in EU law for more than 30 years. They are contained in Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and 987/2009.
The EU/EEA countries covered by these Regulations are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man - see 'Bilateral social security agreements' below).
EU regulations relating to social security generally apply to the following people:
- Nationals of the countries covered by the regulations, who are or have been insured in one of these countries, and their family members.
- People with the status of stateless people or refugees who are or have been insured in any of the countries covered by the regulations and their family members.
- Nationals of non-EU countries legally residing in the territory of the EU, who have moved between countries covered by the regulations and their family members.
If you have worked in Ireland and in one or more EU states, your social insurance contributions from each EU state will be added to your Irish social insurance contributions to help you qualify for one of the social welfare payments listed below. In the case of some payments (for example, Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit and Maternity Benefit) your last social insurance contribution must be paid in Ireland.
- Illness Benefit
- Maternity Benefit
- Invalidity Pension
- State Pension (Contributory)
- Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
- Jobseeker's Benefit
- Treatment Benefit
- Carer's Benefit
Countries with whom Ireland has Bilateral Social Security Agreements
Bilateral Social Security Agreements are specific arrangements between participating countries that allow people to move between countries and protect their pension entitlements. Ireland has Bilateral Social Security Agreements with:
- United States of America
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- UK (covering Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)
Ireland's Bilateral Social Security Agreement with Switzerland has been mainly replaced by EU regulations.
The benefits covered by bilateral social security agreements are:
- State Pension (Contributory)
- Widows, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
- Invalidity Pension
The bilateral social security agreements are of greatest relevance for pensioners who retire to Ireland after working in one of the countries listed above.
If you have come from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social
Security Agreement, your pension rights from the other country are protected
when you move to Ireland. It is possible to have a pension from Ireland and one
or all of the other countries. You may be able to combine your insurance
records from Ireland and the other country to qualify for a State
How to apply
When you are filling in or completing an application for an Irish social insurance payment, there is a section on the application form that will ask you whether you have ever been employed in an EU country other than Ireland. In the case of long-term payments, you will be asked if you have ever been employed in an EU country or a country with whom Ireland has a bi-lateral social security agreement.
You will be asked for the following information:
- The country where you worked
- The name and address of your employer there
- The dates you worked there
- Your Social Security Number there
Where to apply
To claim a social welfare payment, you should fill out the correct application form and return it to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The return address is printed on the application form.
Further information about your Irish social insurance record is available
How your social insurance contributions from other states are calculated
If you have worked in another EU state or a country with which Ireland has a bi-lateral social security agreement, the social insurance contributions you have paid there may help you to qualify for an Irish social insurance payment.
Under EU regulations, specifically Regulation EEC No. 883/2004 (pdf) (was 1408/71), entitlements built up in one EU member state should be recognised when calculating benefit entitlement in another.
You should get forms U1 (formerly E301) and E104 when you leave an EU country where you have worked. These forms are available at the relevant social security agency in the country you are coming from and provide details of your social insurance record. Form E104 is needed if you apply for sickness benefits and form U1 is required for unemployment benefits.
For example, if you are applying for Illness Benefit, send a copy of your E104 with your application for Illness Benefit. It will speed up the processing of your application. If you don’t have form E104 from the relevant EU countries you have worked in, once you state the other countries you have worked in on your application form, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will obtain the relevant details for you.
Before coming to Ireland, you should check with the local social security office in the country you are working in about the appropriate documentation to bring with you.
Bi-lateral Social Security Agreements
Contributions paid in states with which Ireland has a bi-lateral social security agreement will only cover you for certain long-term payments, such as, the State Pension (Contributory), Invalidity Pension, Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension, and Guardian’s Payment (Contributory).
You must have been in insurable employment for at least one week in Ireland for a bilateral agreement to apply and (except in the case of Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)) have a minimum of 52 reckonable weeks under Irish legislation. If you apply for one of the above social insurance payments in Ireland and put in your application that you have worked in a country with which Ireland has a bi-lateral social security agreement, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will do the following:
- If you have enough Irish social insurance contributions to get an Irish payment the Department will pay it and also initiate, on your behalf, a claim in the other country you worked in
- If you do not have enough social insurance contributions the Department will request your social insurance record from the other country to help you qualify for an Irish social insurance payment and also initiate, on your behalf, a claim in the other country that you have worked
This means you can get more than one payment; you can get an Irish payment and a payment from another country. The rate of pension or payment, where insurance contributions in another country are being combined with Irish contributions, is calculated as follows:
Your notional pension is calculated. Notional pension is the rate of Irish pension which would be payable if all your social insurance contributions, both Irish and non-Irish, were treated as Irish contributions. To get the yearly average number of contributions, your Irish and non-Irish reckonable contributions are added together and the total is then divided by the number of years (this is, the number of years from your first paid social insurance contribution to the end of the tax year before reaching pension age (66)).
The following formula is then applied:
(A x B)/C
A = the notional rate of pension. (See step 1 to calculate the notional rate of pension.)
B = the number of Irish contributions.
C = the total number of contributions (Irish + foreign)
In the agreements with Austria, Australia, Canada, Quebec and UK, (as under EU legislation), where there are less than 52 contributions paid in the other country and a pension is not awarded by that country, the Irish pension is awarded on the sum of the two insurance records without the application of the pro-rata rule.
Contributions for Invalidity Pension are calculated differently - see 'Invalidity Pension' below.
Articles 44-49 of Regulation EEC No. 883/2004 (pdf) outlines how social insurance contributions from abroad are calculated for Invalidity Pension.
Each EU country is classed as either a Type A or Type B country, depending on how it calculates pensions. There’s a list of Type A and Type B countries on welfare.ie. Ireland is a Type A country.
If you have worked in Ireland and another Type A country, the country where your incapacity for work and invalidity occurred pays you the full Invalidity Pension.
If you have worked in Ireland and a Type B country, or in a country with which Ireland has a Bi-lateral Social Welfare Agreement, your pension will be calculated on a pro-rata basis. Each country pays you a partial pension, depending on your contribution record there.
The rate is calculated using the following formula:
(A/B) x C
A = number of Irish contributions
B = total contributions (number of Irish contributions + contributions outside Ireland)
C = current personal Invalidity Pension rate
Where an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) is also payable, this is also paid on a pro-rata basis.
You must have a minimum of at least 52 contributions or credits in Ireland with at least 1 of these being a paid contribution.