Supplementary Welfare Allowance
What is Supplementary Welfare Allowance?
Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people who do not have enough income to meet their needs or the needs of their family.
Who can get Supplementary Welfare Allowance?
If you have no income, you may get a basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA).
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 Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your family.
If you applied for a social welfare payment or pension but it has not yet been paid and you have no other income, you may get SWA while you are waiting for your payment. However, the amount paid while you are waiting will be deducted from the arrears of your social welfare payment.
If you have returned to work, you can claim the basic SWA for up to 30 days while you are waiting for your wages.
People from Ukraine
Rules for getting Supplementary Welfare Allowance
You may get Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you:
- Are living in the State.
- Pass the means test - see 'How your income is assessed for Supplementary Welfare Allowance' below
- Have applied for any other social welfare benefit or allowance you may be entitled to
- Have registered for work with your local Intreo Centre - if you are of working age
- Meet the habitual residence condition (HRC) - see below for exceptions to the HRC
You will not normally qualify for basic SWA if you are:
- In full-time work, that is, working for 30 hours or more per week*.
- In full-time education.
- Involved in a trade dispute. However, you can claim SWA for your dependants.
* This condition does not apply to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. However, any income they have from work is taken into account in the means test.
Habitual Residency Condition
EU/EEA and Swiss migrant workers who have been working in Ireland and have the right to reside here can access basic SWA and supplements without having to meet the habitual residency condition.
However, people from the EU/EEA or Switzerland who move to Ireland in search of employment are subject to the habitual residence condition in the normal way while looking for work.
How your income is assessed for Supplementary Welfare Allowance
SWA is a means-tested payment.
In a means test the Department of Social Protection examines all your sources of income. To get SWA, your income must be below a certain amount.
If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, the total income of the couple is added together in the means test.
The main items included in the means test are:
- Cash income that you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may have. For example, maintenance, income from employment and income from self-employment.
- Capital, for example, the value of savings, investments, shares or any property you have (but not your own home). The first €5,000 of your capital is not taken into account.
Most social welfare and Health Service Executive payments are taken into account in the means test – see payments not taken into account below.
Generally, all financial compensation is taken into account. However, certain types of compensation are not assessed as income. You can find a list of compensation payments not assessed as income.
The following payments are not taken into account:
- Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance, Blind Welfare Allowance, Guardian's Payment (Contributory), Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) and the Carer's Support Grant.
- Foster care allowance
- The Consumer Directed Home Support (CDHS) from the HSE
- Maintenance grants paid by SUSI
- Payments under the Department of Education's school transport scheme for children with special educational needs
- Payments under the 1916 Bursary Fund from the Department of Education
- Uversity payments made under the Higher Education Scholarships for Adult Learners of up to a maximum of €7000 per year
- Scholarship payments under UCD’s Cothrom na Féine Scholarship Programme of up to €7000 per year
- Payments made by Sport Ireland under the International Carding Scheme
- Up to €165 of earnings from employment for people who have applied for, or are getting, Disability Allowance or Blind Pension
- Certain income from rent is not included in the means test – see ‘Income from rent’ below
The value of investments, savings or property (but not the value of your own home) is calculated as follows:
|Weekly means assessed
|not taken into account
|€1 per €1,000
|€2 per €1,000
|€4 per €1,000
Living with your parent
If you are 24 years of age or under and you are living with a parent or a step-parent in the family home, some of your parents' income will also be taken into account in the assessment for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
The Department of Social Protection calls this an assessment of the 'benefit and privilege' you get from living with your parents.
Income from rent
You can get up to €14,000 per year for renting out a room in your own home without it affecting your Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
The maximum income disregard is €269.23 a week (€14,000 per year).
From 1 December 2023, you can benefit from this income disregard if you are a Local Authority tenant and you rent out a room to a third-level student under the ‘Room for a Student Local Authority Tenancies Scheme’.
From 1 February 2024, you can benefit from this income disregard if you move out of your home under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Fair Deal).
Rules about renting the room
The person renting a room in your home must use the room for a minimum of 28 consecutive days. The income disregard will not apply if you are renting to an employee or to your immediate family members.
Immediate family members are:
- Your spouse, civil partner or partner
- Your child, or the spouse of your child
- Your parent, step-parent or parent-in-law
- Your sibling, including step-siblings or siblings-in-law
- Your grandparent or your grandchild
- Your aunt or uncle
- Your nephew or niece
If you host people coming from Ukraine
The Accommodation Recognition Payment for hosting refugees from Ukraine is not assessed in the means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
Rate of Supplementary Welfare Allowance
The basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) is made up of a personal rate for you (the applicant) and additional amounts for any adult dependant and child dependant.
A child dependant is a person under the age of 18 who lives with you and depends on you for financial support. If you have been getting SWA for at least 26 weeks, the age limit is 22 for a child dependant in full-time education or up to the end of the academic year after their 22nd birthday.
Weekly Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate in 2024
Maximum personal rate
Increase for an adult dependant
Increase for a child dependant
Aged 25 and over
€46 for a child aged under 12
€54 for a child aged 12 or over
Aged 18-24 and living independently*
Aged 18-24 and not living independently
People aged 18-24 with children qualify for the maximum personal rate of €230
*Supplementary Welfare Allowance for people aged under 25 is €230, only if the person is living independently and getting a state housing support such as Rent Supplement, Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
Reduced rates of Supplementary Welfare Allowance for people under 25 years of age do not apply to:
- People with dependent children
- People aged 18-24 who were in the care of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) for any period during the 12 months before reaching 18 years of age
Supplementary Welfare Allowance is not a taxable source of income.
How Supplementary Welfare Allowance is paid
You can collect your Supplementary Welfare Allowance, in cash, from your Post Office. In some cases, SWA may be paid into a bank account.
How to apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance
You should apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance to Department of Social Protection's Community Welfare Service at your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Office
You must fill in a Supplementary Welfare Allowance claim form (pdf) . To help process your claim, you should have the following:
- Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers for yourself, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your children
- Proof of residency
- Proof of identity, for example, a Public Services Card (if you have one), a passport, driving licence, work permit, Irish Residence Permit or (GNIB card), etc.
- Proof of any household income
- PPS numbers (or Birth Certificates) for any children you include in your application
- Documents to show your income and financial situation, such as, pay slips, tax statements, bank statements, etc.
Appealing a decision
You have the right to appeal a decision if you are not happy with the outcome of your claim. You can appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Social Welfare Appeals Office deals with appeals for basic SWA and SWA supplements.
Where to apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance
You should contact the Department of Social Protection's Community Welfare Service.