Social Welfare

If you’re moving back to Ireland and haven’t secured employment, you may be relying on jobseeker’s allowance and other social welfare benefits for the first few months. There are a number of steps you need to follow to ensure you can receive these as soon as possible.

Habitual Residence Condition

You should be entitled to the exact same social welfare payments as before, including jobseeker’s allowance, child benefit, carer’s allowance, rent supplement and the state pension. All you have to do is satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC) and prove you have moved back to Ireland permanently. Guidelines for HRC changed in 2010 and, thankfully, it is now easier to get your application approved.

You can demonstrate your intention to permanently stay in Ireland by showing that you’ve closed your overseas bank account, terminated your lease, transferred your pension and only purchased a one-way ticket home. The more documentary evidence you provide, the better the chance of your application being successful. Other factors affecting the result include where your close family live, the length of time you spent overseas, your employment history and whether or not you own property.

It can take a few weeks to find out the result of your application – you should try and keep some money aside if you haven’t found a job to cover your accommodation and living costs. Refusals occur very rarely and 98% of appeals are successful. The Crosscare Migrant Project can help you with your case in the unlikely event that you don’t qualify first-time round.

Transferring your pension home

Where you have been living and how long you’ve been away for can affect your ability to get the full state pension of €230.30 per week. To qualify for this, you need to have been making an average of 48 PRSI contributions a year. If you have been working overseas, you won’t have made these contributions and may not have the same entitlements. Thankfully, you should be able to transfer contributions from EU countries, as well as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Japan and South Korea. To find out where you stand, check the PRSI Section in the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

If you’re returning from Australia, you might be entitled to claim back pension contributions made on your behalf by your employer. Around 70% of people don’t claim back this “superannuation”, even though the money can be substantial and very helpful when you first move home. The amount you will receive will depend on how much your salary was and what sector you were working in. If you’re confused about transferring or amalgamating your pensions, it’s best to consult a third party such as Taxback.com.