State Pension (Non-Contributory)

What is the State Pension (Non-Contributory)?

The State Pension (Non-Contributory) is a payment for people aged 66 and over who do not qualify for a State Pension (Contributory) (SPC).

If you are getting a reduced SPC, you should check if you would be better off getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory).

The State Pension (Non-Contributory) is taxable, but if it is your only income you are unlikely to pay tax on it.

Qualifying age for State pensions

The qualifying age for all State pensions is 66.

The Pensions Commission was set up under the Programme for Government 2020 to examine the State pensions, including the qualifying age.

How to qualify for a State Pension (Non-Contributory)

To get a State Pension (Non-Contributory), you must:

  • Be aged 66 or over
  • Pass a means test - a means test looks at any income that you have – see ‘How your income is assessed for a State Pension (Non-Contributory)’ below
  • Live in Ireland and meet the habitual residence condition (HRC)

How your income is assessed for a State Pension (Non-Contributory)

The State Pension (Non-Contributory) is a means-tested payment.

In a means test the Department of Social Protection examines all your sources of income. To get a State Pension (Non-Contributory), your income must be below a certain amount.

The main items included in the means test are:

  • Cash income that you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may have. Some cash income may not be included in the means test – see ‘Cash income’ below.
  • Capital, for example, the value of savings, investments, shares or any property you have, but not your own home. The first €20,000 of your capital is not taken into account – see ‘Capital and property’ below.

Cash income

Any cash income you have is assessed in the means test.

Cash income includes any social security pension from another country. However, some types of cash income are not taken into account in the means test.

For example, you can earn up to €200 per week from employment including Community Employment (CE) (but not self-employment) and it will not affect your Pension. Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant can also earn up to €200 per week. Any income from work above this amount is assessed in the means test.

Blind Welfare Allowance is not included in the means test.

Farm land owned or leased

Your net income from farming or leasing land is assessed as income in the means test. Your net income is worked out by taking your gross income (your income before tax) and deducting your expenses. If you own land that is not productively used or leased, it is assessed on its capital value – see ‘Capital and property’ below.

Payments you get under the Farm Retirement Scheme and income from property that has already been assessed on its capital value are not taken into account in the means test.

More information is available in our document about cash income not taken into account in the means test.

Capital and property

Savings, investments, cash on hand and any property you own (but not your own home) is assessed as capital.

If your property is assessed on its capital value then income from that property (such as rent) is not assessed in the means test.

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 in the means test.

All your capital from different sources is added together and a special formula is then used to find your weekly means from capital.

Disability Allowance and the State Pension (Non-Contributory)

The means tests for Disability Allowance (DA) and the State Pension (Non-Contributory) use different rules to assess capital. But if you are moving from DA to the State Pension (Non-Contributory) at 66, you will not get a lower-rate Pension due to a less favourable assessment of capital.

Income from 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 (such as income from renting out a room). There is one exception to this. If not renting out 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 money you make from the sale (the proceeds) would normally be taken into account in the means test. However, you may be able to sell your home because it is no longer suitable for you (or you cannot maintain it) and have up to €190,500 of the proceeds of the sale excluded from the means test. The exemption of €190,500 applies, if you sell your house 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

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.

Investing the income from the sale of your home

Any benefit you get from investing the proceeds from the sale of your home is taken into account in the means test.

If you invest the money you make from selling your home (the proceeds), any interest you make on the investment is taken into account in the means test and assessed as capital.

However, if you rely on interest payments to pay major expenses, such as nursing home costs, the DSP can exclude the interest, on the exempted capital, up to a maximum of €190,500.

Leaving your home but not selling

If you leave your home (either on a temporary basis or indefinitely) due to old age or being unwell, the value of your home will not be assessed in the means test. However, if you get an income from it (for example, if you rent it out), the capital value of the house will then be taken into account in the mean test.

Total means

Your cash means and capital means are added together to see what level of pension you will get, if any.

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.

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 does not affect the rate of your pension. After that first €30, your pension is reduced by €2.50 for every €2.50 of means.

The Farm Assist and for the State Pension (Non-Contributory) means tests are different. But if you are moving from Farm Assist to the State Pension (Non-Contributory), and the different means tests would result in you getting a lower pension payment, you keep the higher payment.

Married, civil partners and cohabiting couples

If you are getting an increase in your State Pension (Non-Contributory) for an adult dependent, this increase will be paid directly to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. This only applies to Pensions applications made after 27 September 2007.

When your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant reaches 66 you will no longer get an increase in your payment for them. However, they can apply for a State Pension (Non-Contributory) in their own right.

Rate of State Pension (Non-Contributory)

From 7 Janaury 2022, State Pension (Non-Contributory) rate:

Personal rate (maximum) Increase for an adult dependant under 66 Increase for a child dependant
Age 66 and under 80

€242

Age 80+

€252

€159.90 Child under 12 years of age

€40 (full-rate)

€20 (half-rate)

Child 12 years of age and over

€48 (full-rate)

€24 (half-rate)

How to apply for a State Pension (Non-Contributory)

You should apply 3 months before you reach 66.

You can get an application form from your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office, post office or Citizens Information Centre.

You can also print the application form State Pension (Non-Contributory) application form (pdf).

Send your completed application form to the address below.

If you need help to fill in the form, you can visit a Citizens Information Centre.

If you are not happy with any decision on your application for a State Pension (Non-Contributory), you can appeal it 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) to avoid an overpayment.

Where to apply for a State Pension (Non-Contributory)

State Pension (Non-contributory)

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Services
College Road
Sligo
F91 T384

Opening Hours: This office does not offer a service to personal callers. All queries must be made by telephone or in writing.
Tel: (071) 915 7100 or 0818 200 400

Further information

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 payments under the Scheme, for example, Urgent Needs Payment, and the 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 payment for people getting certain social welfare payments who are living alone.

Household Benefits Package is a package of benefits that provides help 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 a payment that provides help with the cost of fuel to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments.

Island Increase is a 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 Public 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

In many cases, the spouse, civil partner, cohabitant or carer will get a payment for 6 weeks following the death.

Page edited: 4 January 2022