Exceptional Needs Payments

What is an Exceptional Needs Payment?

An Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) is a single payment to help with an essential, once-off cost that you cannot meet out of your weekly income.

For example, the payment can be used for bedding or cooking utensils when you are setting up a home for the first time, visiting relatives in hospital or prison, funeral costs or for clothing in exceptional circumstances. In some cases, you may get help with fuel bills such as heating and electricity.

The Community Welfare Service will examine your case and decide if you qualify for an ENP.

Exceptional Needs Payments are part of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

Help with funeral costs

You may get an Exceptional Needs Payment to help you with the cost of a funeral, if your income is low. Each case is decided on by the Community Welfare Service at your local office.

Help with fuel bills

If you are on a low income or a social welfare payment and need help with your heating bills, you may get an Exceptional Needs Payment. Each case is decided on by the Community Welfare Service at your local office.

How to qualify for an Exceptional Needs Payment

You may get an Exceptional Needs Payment, if you:

  • Are living in Ireland
  • Pass a means test – a means test looks at any income that you have – see ‘Means test’ below

You do not have to meet the habitual residence condition to qualify.

You won't normally get an Exceptional Needs Payment, if you:

  • Have access to other resources to meet the need (including capital)
  • Are in full-time work (30 hours or more a week)
  • Are in full-time education
  • Are involved in a trade dispute or on strike. However, you may get an Exceptional Needs Payment for your dependent adult or dependent child.

Means test

In a means test, the Department of Social Protection examines all your sources of income.

Sometimes a certain amount of income, or income from a particular source, is not taken into account and these are called income disregards. There are no income disregards for capital in the ENP means test - all capital and property (except your home) is taken into account and assessed as means.

Rate of an Exceptional Needs Payment

The amount of payment you get will depend on the type of help you need and a means test.

How to apply for an Exceptional Needs Payment

To apply for an Exceptional Needs Payment you will need:

  • Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers for yourself, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your children
  • Evidence of any income or social welfare assistance you are getting

You should apply for funeral assistance before the funeral takes place. However, if you didn't apply before the funeral, you should apply as soon as possible afterwards.

You cannot appeal a decision on an Exceptional Needs Payment to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. However, you may request that a decision be reviewed by the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Review Officer for the office which made the decision.

Where to apply for an Exceptional Needs Payment

You should contact the Community Welfare Service at your local office.

You can get an application form SWA1 (pdf) from your local office.


Page edited: 16 February 2022