Friday, 23rd June 2017
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Long-term illness and the State Pension

Question

I’ve been on Illness Benefit for over a year. I don’t ever expect to be fit to return to work. As I’m now nearing pension age, will I be entitled to a full State Pension (Contributory)?

Answer

The State Pension (Contributory) is paid to people from the age of 66 who have enough social insurance contributions. To qualify, you will need to have paid at least 520 full-rate contributions, which is equivalent to 10 years. The amount of the pension will depend on your average number of contributions per year. Illness Benefit is paid for a maximum of two years. It will end when you turn 66, then you may be eligible for a State Pension. You should apply for the State Pension three months before your 66th birthday.

If your entitlement to Illness Benefit ends before you reach pension age at 66 and you are likely to be permanently incapable of work, you may qualify for Invalidity Pension. To get Invalidity Pension you must have at least 260 (or five years) paid PRSI contributions and 48 contributions paid or credited in the last complete tax year before the date of your claim. The last complete tax year is the year before your claim. For example, if you claim Invalidity Pension in 2017, the last complete tax year is 2016. Note that only PRSI paid in classes A, E and H currently count.

If you get Invalidity Pension, you will automatically transfer to the State Pension (Contributory) at the full rate when you turn 66.

You will be contacted by the Department of Social Protection before your Illness Benefit is due to stop and you will be given information about your options. If at that stage, you don’t qualify for Invalidity Pension and have a disability that is expected to last for a year or more, you may qualify for a means-tested Disability Allowance.

You can get detailed information about the State Pension and payments for people with long-term illnesses from the website of the Department of Social Protection.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.

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