HomeCaring Periods Scheme
The HomeCaring Periods Scheme makes it easier for people who take time out of their working life to care for children or adults to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory).
Under the Scheme, periods of time when you were caring for someone can be included in your social insurance record.
The HomeCaring Periods Scheme is part of a new way of calculating the State Pension (Contributory) for people who applied after 1 September 2012. This new way of calculating pension rates is called the Total Contributions Approach.
The HomeCaring Periods Scheme and the Homemaker's Scheme cannot be used together to calculate your pension entitlement. The Homemakers Scheme will continue to be used when the yearly average number of social insurance contributions is being used to calculate the rate of pension.
How to qualify for a HomeCaring Period
Anyone who was born on or after 1 September 1946 and has cared for someone full time can apply for the HomeCaring Periods Scheme.
You can get a HomeCaring Period on your social insurance contribution record for each week you were not employed or signing on for credits and you were providing full-time care for:
- A child or children under 12 years of age (only parents or foster parents can get a HomeCaring Period for a child under 12 years of age)
- A child or children aged 12 or over who needed an increased level of care
- An adult who needed an increased level of care
Up to 1,040 HomeCaring Periods (equivalent to 20 years) may be included on your social insurance record.
To qualify for a HomeCaring Period, at the time you provided care you must:
- Have been aged over 16 and under 66
- Not have been working full-time (you can have worked but must have earned less than €38 gross per week)
- Not have been getting a social welfare payment, with the exception of Carer's Allowance, Carer's Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance or Carer's Support Grant.
Only one person can get a HomeCaring Period on their social insurance record for supporting a particular child or adult at any one time.
The HomeCaring Periods Scheme will not be applied to any period of time when you were living outside Ireland, except in cases where provisions under EU posted worker regulations apply.
You can read more about the HomeCaring Periods Scheme on welfare.ie.
How HomeCaring Periods are calculated for a State Pension (Contributory)
The HomeCaring Periods Scheme can only be used when your State Pension (Contributory) is calculated under the Total Contributions Approach.
The Total Contributions Approach provides for a new Aggregated Contributions Method to calculate the total number of contributions you have paid. This new method is used to calculate pension rates instead of assessing the yearly average number of contributions.
Using the Aggregated Contributions Method, if you have 2,080 or more social insurance contributions (or 40 years of full-time employment) you will qualify for a maximum personal rate of State Pension (Contributory).
If you have less than 2,080 contributions, up to 520 credited contributions (10 years) and up to 1,040 HomeCaring Periods (20 years) may be used as part of your pension calculation to help you qualify for a maximum pension.
However, your combined credited contributions and HomeCaring Periods cannot be more than 1,040 (20 years).
If your combined total of paid contributions, HomeCaring Periods and credited contributions is less than 2,080, you will qualify for a reduced rate of pension. For example, a combined total of 1,560 of paid contributions, made up of HomeCaring Periods and credited contributions, would entitle you to 75% of the maximum pension (1,560 / 2,080 = 75%).
How to apply
You can apply for the HomeCaring Periods Scheme once you have reached pension age.
If you reached pension age since 1 September 2012 and you are getting the State Pension (Contributory) at a rate below the maximum rate of payment, your pension will be reassessed using the Aggregated Contributions Method. Your HomeCaring Periods will be assessed as part of this review.
If your pension is being reassessed, the Department of Social Protection will contact you in the coming months to tell you what to do next. You do not need to do anything until you hear from the Department.
You can read more about the pensions review process on welfare.ie.
If you have not yet reached pension age, the Department will collect the
information it needs to assess you for HomeCaring Periods when you apply for
the State Pension (Contributory).
Where to apply