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.
The social security arrangements that Ireland has with other countries can be divided broadly into two groups:
- European Union (EU) regulations
- Bilateral social security agreements
UK and combining insurance
On 31 January 2020, the UK exited the EU - this was often referred to as Brexit. The Convention on Social Security between Ireland and the United Kingdom (pdf) maintains the recognition of, and access to, social insurance entitlements 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 are protected and vice versa.
You can find a list of Irish social welfare payments covered by the Convention.
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. There is more information available on the Department of Social Protection's website.
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 may 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
- Adoptive Benefit
- Paternity Benefit
- Parent's Benefit
- Invalidity Pension
- State Pension (Contributory)
- Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
- Jobseeker's Benefit
- Jobseeker's Benefit (Self-Employed)
- Treatment Benefit Scheme (optical and aural services)
- Carer's Benefit
How your social insurance contributions under EU Regulations are calculated
When calculating your entitlement to an Irish social insurance payment under EU regulations, all your reckonable contributions from countries covered by the regulations are combined. They can be used with your Irish contributions to help you qualify for a payment.
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 Social Protection will get the relevant details for you.
When applying for Invalidity Pension, each EU country is classified as either a Type A or a Type B country. Your Invalidity Pension will be calculated differently depending on whether you have worked in a Type A or Type B country - see ‘Invalidity Pension’ in Further Information below.
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. For State pensions, the DSP requests your social insurance contribution history directly from the other state.
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.
Contributions paid in states with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement only cover you for certain long-term payments. These include:
- 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 use your insurance records
from Ireland and the other country to qualify for a State
How your social insurance contributions under bilateral social security agreements are calculated
You must have been in insurable employment for at least one week in Ireland for a bilateral social security agreement to apply and (except in the case of Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)) have a minimum of 52 reckonable weeks under Irish legislation. When calculating your entitlement to an Irish social insurance payment under a bilateral social security agreement your reckonable contributions from the country with which Ireland has the agreement and your Irish contributions are used in a pro-rata formula to find out if you qualify for a payment.
If you have worked in more than one country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement, your entitlement to an Irish social insurance payment will be assessed under each agreement separately. Contributions paid under different bilateral agreements cannot be combined together, each must be calculated separately. The calculation that provides the highest amount is paid.If you apply for a long-term social insurance payment in Ireland and put in your application that you have worked in a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement, the Department of 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 may get more than one payment; you may get an Irish payment and a payment from another country.
Your notional pension is calculated. Notional pension is the rate of Irish pension which would be payable if 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 + non-Irish)
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.
How to apply
When you are filling in or completing an application for an Irish social insurance payment, a section on the application form asks 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 bilateral 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
The Department of Social Protection will then request your social insurance contribution history records from the other member state or foreign institution directly.
Where to apply
To claim a social welfare payment, you should fill in the correct application form and return it to the Department of Social Protection. The return address is printed on the application form.
Further information about your Irish social insurance record is available
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 52 contributions or credits in Ireland with at least 1 of these being a paid contribution.