Social Security

Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) and social welfare

Almost all people in Ireland pay Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) and levies for health, employment and training.

Your employer also contributes to PRSI at 12 per cent on all your earnings. These payments include a National Training Fund Levy of 0.7 per cent.

If you’re self-employed, none of your salary is exempt from PRSI but you pay only 3 per cent. On the other hand, you won’t of course, benefit from an employer’s contribution. If you’re a company director and your share holding is 50 per cent or more, you’ll be classed as self-employed with regard to PRSI contributions. If your share holding is less than 50 per cent, your social insurance position need to be individually assessed.

In addition to PRSI, a government levy of 2 per cent (known as a Health Contribution) is payable on your whole salary (there’s no upper limit.

PRSI and levies are payable on income from all sources with the exception of benefits-in-kind. The only allowable deductions are contributions to an approved employee superannuation scheme.

Social Welfare

Social welfare Ireland isn’t just for those who are unemployed. You may be entitled to welfare for a number of reasons (e.g. simply because you have children) and it’s worth finding out in advance the benefits for which you qualify. It’s also important to keep records of any welfare you receive in your country of residence. Many benefits cannot be backdated, so you should make a claim as early as possible.

Since 1994, anyone who’s claiming social welfare benefits in an EU or EEA country is entitled under EU regulations to claim the same benefits in any other member country and to be treated exactly as a national of that country. If you’re going to work in Ireland from another EEA country, you should take with you a record of your previous social welfare contributions on forms E301 and E304.

There are also special bilateral agreements between Ireland and Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. If you’re moving from any non-EU country (including these four), you should contact the International Operations section of Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs (DSCFA, Tel. 01-874 8444), which operates the Irish social welfare system.

The benefits available include child benefit; maternity benefit; one parent family payment (formerly called the lone parent’s allowance); free travel; disability benefit; accident at work or occupational injury benefit; invalidity pension; survivors’ and orphans’ pensions; death grant; treatment benefit (dental, optical and aural); and unemployment benefit.

These benefits fall into three categories: contributory (social insurance) payments such as maternity benefit, unemployment benefit, disability benefit, treatment benefit and contributory pensions, which are made against PRSI contributions (or the equivalent in the country from which you’re moving); non-contributory (social assistance) payments such as the one parent family payment, and non-contributory pensions, which are made according to need (and subject to a means test); and universal services such as child benefit and free travel, which are unrelated to PRSI contributions or means. Note that even if you don’t qualify for unemployment or disability benefit, you may be entitled to non-contributory unemployment or disability assistance.

Payments in respect of contributory benefits are calculated on the basis of your earnings and payments in the year before the period of claim. For example, if you’re claiming disability benefit for the period January to December 2001, your claim will be based on your earnings and payments in the tax year 1999/2000. Payments are usually made weekly and you can choose from four payment methods.


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