Overview of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme consists of a basic payment, called Supplementary Welfare Allowance, and other financial supplements for certain expenses you may not be able to meet, including emergency situations. It is administered by the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) in your local Intreo centre.

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) is a weekly payment for people that have low income or no income. For example, SWA can be paid to you while the Department Employment Affairs and of Social Protection (DSP) is processing your claim for another payment. If you are in hospital for a temporary stay and do not qualify for any other payment, you may be paid a small amount for your daily personal needs (for example, newspapers and toiletries). This payment (known as Hospital Comforts) is paid as a basic SWA payment and is means tested).

Rent Supplement is a payment to help with the cost of rent for people living in privately rented accommodation.

Mortgage Interest Supplement was a payment to help with the cost of mortgage interest repayments. The Mortgage Interest Supplement scheme closed to new entrants from 1 January 2014, and no new applications were accepted from this date. The scheme was wound down for people who were getting Mortgage Interest Supplement before 1 January 2014 over a 4-year period and closed on 31 December 2017. However, claimants who were getting MIS payments that were due to end on that date continue to get payments under the Supplementary Welfare Scheme from 1 January 2018.

The amount you get is equal to the MIS payment that you were getting before 31 December 2017. This payment is made automatically and there is no need to re-apply to the DSP.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is a payment to help with the cost of uniforms and footwear for children at school.

Diet Supplement is a payment to help with the cost of a special diet prescribed by your doctor or hospital consultant (it is no longer paid to new applicants).

Heating Supplement is a payment to help people who have extra heating needs with the cost of heating their home. For example, people that are ill or have a disability.

Exceptional Needs Payment is a single payment to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. For example, the payments can be for special clothing for a person who has a serious illness, bedding or cooking utensils for someone setting up a home for the first time or costs in relation to funerals.

Urgent Needs Payment is a payment to people in emergency situations. For example, in the case of a fire or flood, you may get a payment to help with the immediate cost of food and clothing.

Appealing a decision

If you are unhappy with the decision of a DSP representative on your application, you can appeal the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Social Welfare Appeals Office deals with appeals relating to basic SWA and some SWA supplements but does not decide on appeals relating to Exceptional or Urgent Needs Payments or Heating Supplements. However, you can ask for an internal review to re-examine decisions on these payments. You should try to submit as much additional information as possible to help your case.

Page edited: 14 January 2020