State Pension (Non-Contributory)
The means-tested State Pension (Non-Contributory) is a payment for people aged over 66 who do not qualify for a State Pension (Contributory) or who only qualify for a reduced contributory pension based on their insurance record.
This pension is taxable but you are unlikely to pay tax if it is your only income.
Qualifying age for State pensions
The current qualifying age for all State pensions is 66. An increase to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028 was planned. In Budget 2021, it was announced that the qualifying age for a State pension will continue to be 66. Legislation will be introduced later in 2020 to reverse the increase in pension age to 67 currently included in social welfare legislation.
Under the Programme for Government 2020 a Commission for Pensions will be set up to examine sustainability and eligibility issues with State pensions and the Social Insurance Fund.
You may qualify for the State Pension (Non-Contributory) if:
The means test
Your means are assessed under the following headings:
- Cash income (including income from work)
- Value of capital (for example, savings, investments, cash on hand and property but not your own home)
- Income from property personally used
Any cash income you have is assessed in the means test. This includes income from a social security pension from another country. However, certain items of cash income are not taken into account in the means test. For example, earnings of up to €200 per week from employment including Community Employment (CE) (but not self-employment) are not taken into account (they are disregarded). This disregard applies to both you and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. Any income from work above €200 is assessed as means.
If you own or lease land your net income from farming or leasing is fully assessed with no disregards. The net income is worked out by deducting expenses incurred from the gross income. If you own land that is not productively used or leased this is assessed on its capital value.
Payments you get under the Farm Retirement Scheme and income from property that has already been assessed on its capital value are also not taken into account.
Blind Welfare Allowance is also not taken into account.
More information is available in our document about cash income not taken into account in the means test.
Capital and property not personally used
Savings, investments, cash on hand and any property you own (but not your own home) is assessed as capital. All your capital from different sources is added together and a special formula is then used to find your weekly means from capital.
The property and investments that may be assessed under this heading include savings in a bank account (or anywhere else), a house that you have let and stocks and shares. You may or may not be getting an income from the property or investment. Income from property already assessed on its capital value is not assessed in the means test - see 'Cash income' above.
If you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant saves a portion of your State Pension (Non-Contributory) each week, these savings as well as savings from most other sources will be taken into account as part of your means.
More information is available in our document on how capital and property is assessed as means.
Different rules for the assessment of capital are used in the means tests for Disability Allowance (DA) and State Pension (Non-Contributory). This means that people moving from DA to State Pension (Non-Contributory) at age 66 could have found that their pension was lower than their DA. However, the Social Welfare and Pension Act 2008 provides that, if you are moving from DA to State Pension (Non-Contributory) at age 66, you will not get a lower-rate pension due to a less favourable assessment of capital.
Income from property personally used (your home)
The value of the house you live in is not taken into account in the means test. However, any income you are getting from it is taken into account. For example, if you rented a room in your house, that income is assessed. There is an exception to this, if not renting the room means that you would be living alone then your income from rent is not taken into account.
Selling your home
If you sell your home, the proceeds of the sale would normally be taken into account as means. If you are living in accommodation which no longer suits you or which you are no longer able to maintain, you may be able to sell your home and move to more suitable accommodation and have up to €190,500 of the proceeds of the sale excluded from the means test. This exemption of €190,500 applies if you sell your house in order to:
- Buy or rent more suitable alternative accommodation
- Move into a private nursing home which is registered under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990
- Move in with a person who is getting a carer's payment to care for you
- Move to sheltered or special housing in the voluntary, co-operative, statutory or private sectors
Usually the first €190,500 of the sale proceeds is not taken into account. However, if you use the proceeds of the sale to buy more suitable accommodation, the balance of the proceeds after buying the new accommodation is exempt up to a limit of €190,500.
However the proceeds of the sale may be taken into account by the Health Service Executive (HSE) when your entitlement to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme is being assessed.
Investment income from the sale of your home
Any benefit you get from investing the sale proceeds is assessable as means. Interest which is kept as capital is assessable in the same way as capital is normally assessed. However, the Department of Social Protection states in its Operational Guidelines on Means Assessment that an allowance should be made where a person has significant maintenance expenses, such as nursing home costs, which are met out of interest payments. In such cases, only the interest on the exempted capital (up to a maximum of €190,500) may be disregarded as means.
Leaving your home but not selling
If, due to old age or incapacity, you leave your home either on a temporary basis or indefinitely, the value of your home will not be assessed as means. However, if it is put to profitable use (for example, rented out), the capital value of the house will then be assessed as means.
Your means under the various headings are added together to see what level of pension, if any, you can get. If you are one half of a couple (married couple, civil partners or a cohabiting couple) then your means are taken to be half of the total means of yourself and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. Note that you can have savings or assets of up to €20,000 and earnings of up to €200 per week from employment and still qualify for a full State Pension (Non-Contributory).
The first €30 per week of means as assessed by the Department of Social Protection does not affect the rate of pension. After that, the pension is reduced by €2.50 each week for every €2.50 of means.
If you were getting Farm Assist and the different means test that applies to the State Pension (Non-Contributory) results in you getting a lower level of payment, you keep your entitlement to the higher amount.
Married, civil partners and cohabiting couples
When your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant reaches 66 you will no longer get an increase in your payment for them as a qualified adult. However, he or she may apply for a State Pension (Non-Contributory) in his/her own right.
If you are getting State Pension (Non-Contributory) the Increase for a Qualified Adult will be paid directly to your adult dependant. This only applies to applications for state pensions received by the Department of Social Protection after 27 September 2007.
State Pension (Non-Contributory) rates 2020
|Maximum personal rate||Increase for an adult dependant aged under 66||Increase for a child dependant
from January 2020
|Aged 66 and under 80
|€156.60||Child under 12 years of age
Child 12 years of age and over
How to apply
To apply fill in a State Pension (Non-Contributory) application form (pdf). You can get an application form from your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office, post office or Citizens Information Centre. You should send your completed application form to the address below. You should apply three months before you reach 66.
If you need help filling out the form you can visit your nearest Citizens Information Centre. You should make sure that you fill in all relevant sections and provide evidence of your income and assets where required – otherwise there may be a delay in processing your application. You should include information about all your bank, credit union or post office accounts, including recent statements from each account you hold. You also need to provide recent payslips if you are working and information about any other pensions you have.
You may be visited by a social welfare officer who will assess your means. You will be told how exactly your means were assessed. If you are not satisfied, you may appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
You must always tell the Department of Social Protection if there are any changes to your circumstances while you are getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory). If your means or circumstances change you may no longer qualify for the payment or it may be reduced. This could mean that you have to repay an overpayment.
Where to apply
Extra benefits with a State Pension (Non-Contributory)
If you are getting State Pension (Non-Contributory), you may be entitled to:
Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme There are a number of supplementary payments under this scheme, for example, Rent Supplement and Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.
Rent Supplement is a payment that helps with the cost of your rent.
Living Alone Increase is a supplementary payment for people getting certain social welfare payments who are living alone.
Household Benefits Package is a package of benefits that provides financial assistance with the cost of some household utilities. It includes an Electricity or Gas Allowance and a Free Television Licence.
Free Travel Pass allows people on certain social welfare payments to access public transport services for free. If you live on a specified island off the Irish coast you can access certain private transport services.
Fuel Allowance is an allowance that provides help with the cost of fuel to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments.
Island Increase is a supplementary payment for people getting certain social welfare payments and living on specified islands off the coast of Ireland.
Centenarian's Payment is a payment made to all Irish citizens and people normally considered to be living in the State on reaching 100 years of age. This payment is issued automatically to those who are getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory).
Carer's Support Grant is an annual payment made to carers, aged 16 or over, providing full-time care for at least 6 months a year.
If a person getting a State Pension (Non- Contributory) from the Department of Social Protection dies, you should:
- Tell the Department of the death as soon as possible
- Return the person’s social services card (this is the card that they use to collect their payment at the Post Office). You should note both the PPS Number and card number for your reference
- Return their Free Travel Pass
In many cases, the spouse, civil partner, cohabitant or carer will receive a
for 6 weeks following the death.