Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Ireland - Benefits to help people reach a basic standard of living

In what situation can I claim?

There are some benefits which provide a basic weekly allowance to eligible people who have little or no income. If you have claimed a social welfare benefit or pension but it has not yet been paid and you have no other income, you may qualify for these while you are waiting for your payment.

Here we cover:

  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance
  • Rent Supplement
  • Exceptional Needs Payment 

What conditions do I need to meet?

These benefits are means-tested and are for habitual residents only. Here are the three main examples.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance is a non-contributory payment and is means-tested. If your weekly income is below the Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your family size, a payment may be made to bring your income up to the appropriate Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection continues to provide rental support under the Rent Supplement scheme to people with a short term housing need who live in private rented accommodation and can’t meet their rent from their own resources, generally because of a temporary loss of employment. You must be able to demonstrate you could have reasonably afforded the rent from your own resources at the commencement of the tenancy.

Rent Supplements ensure that the recipient’s income after paying rent is not less than the Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate less a weekly minimum contribution. The weekly contribution for single persons and lone parents is €30 per week, for couples and families with two adults the minimum contribution is €40 per week. Young people on reduced rates of Jobseekers or Supplementary Welfare Allowance are liable for a reduced minimum contribution.

Under the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), responsibility for the provision of rental assistance to those with a long-term housing need transfers to local authorities, under the auspices of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.  HAP was rolled out on an incremental basis and is now available in all local authority areas throughout the country.

Exceptional and Urgent Needs Payment is a single payment to help meet essential, one-off, exceptional expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. (Exceptional and Urgent Needs Payments are not subject to the Habitual Resident Condition.

What am I entitled to and how can I claim?

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Supplementary Welfare Allowance rates in 2018 - Maximum rate for people aged 26 and over:

Personal rate

Increase for a Qualified Adult

Increase for a Qualified Child

Maximum rate




Supplementary Welfare Allowance rates in 2018 - Maximum rate for people 25 years and under


Personal rate

Increase for a Qualified Adult







Note that the payment of qualified adult and child increases depends on the income your spouse or partner may have.

The reduced personal and qualified adult rate of Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) for claimants under 26 years of age does not apply in the following cases:

  • people with dependent children;
  • certain people who were in the care of Ireland’s Child and Family Agency during the 12 months before they turn 18.

Rent Supplement

Rent Supplement Review Forms are given by the officers in charge of your case and need to be filled in by the claimant and their landlord.

All schemes have to be applied for and involve a means test. In most cases there will also be an interview with an officer of the community welfare service.

Jargon busters

  • Non-contributory benefits are means-tested, meaning that your income or property (except your own home) will be taken into account when it comes to setting your benefit;
  • Habitual resident - The term ‘habitual resident’ is defined under EU law - see: EU Regulation on the coordination of social security systems. In practice it means the place where you have your centre of interests;
  • A qualified adult/child is a dependant for whom you may get an extra amount. This is paid as an increase to your personal payment.

Forms you may need to fill in

Know your rights

The links below set out your rights in law, they are not European Commission sites and do not represent the view of the Commission:

Commission publication and website:

Who do you need to contact?

To find out more about your Personal Public Service Number (PPS Number) contact a registration centre.

Apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Exceptional Needs payments or Rent Supplement, from the office nearest you - list of offices or from:

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Information Services,
College Road,
LoCall: 1890 66 22 44

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