Urgent Needs Payments


Urgent Needs Payments are payments under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. You do not have to meet the habitual residence condition to qualify for an urgent needs payment.


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

Depending on your circumstances, for example, if you are working or when an insurance claim has been settled, you may have to pay some or all of this back at a later date.

If you are means-tested for an Urgent Needs Payment, all capital/property (except your home) is taken into account and assessed as means.

In a means test, the Department of Social Protection examines all your sources of income. Sometimes a certain amount of income or income from particular sources is not taken into account and these are often referred to as income disregards. However, in the means test for an Urgent Needs Payment, all capital/property (except your home) is taken into account and assessed as means – there are no disregards for capital.


The amount of payment you get will depend on the type of assistance that you need.

How to apply

If your employment (or self-employment) has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, or if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick, read our document on COVID-19 (coronavirus) and social welfare payments.

To apply for an Urgent 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 cannot appeal a decision on an Urgent 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 original decision.

Where to apply

You should contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local office.

You can contact your local office administering SWA by email or phone.

Page edited: 29 September 2021