Ireland - pensions, taxes, health questions

Hi all. You will have no doubt noticed that questions frequently arise here on SFN to do with pension entitlements, tax issues, and so forth. The majority of members who add helpful replies are UK based and this of course has no relevance to those of us who must apply to the appropriate Irish authorities, so I thought it might be useful to start this discussion and invite people to share any helpful information.

For example, questions that can arise are:

  • Am I entitled to an Irish pension when living in France?

  • What is the retirement age for a contributory or non-contributory pension?

  • When and where do I apply for my Irish pension?

  • Do I need an Irish EHIC card?

  • I am resident in France, but go back to Ireland for visits. Should I apply for a French EHIC card?

  • How do I claim back Deposit Interest Retention tax (DIRT) on savings?

Its a good idea to request the details of you contribution histories from the Irish pension folk John. It may be worth your while to spend some time in Ireland before you're 65 to get contribution credits if you are below the threshold.

I think your wife is in a good position Roger but better to check with the pension folk to make sure. Her average will be based on 1969 to the year she last made contributions. As to whether that's in Ireland or the UK I'm not sure. I expect the UK as they do give credit for UK contributions. So she'll have 52X19 from Ireland plus whatever from the UK the total of which needs to be divided by 19 + the number of years contributing in the UK. Sounds to me that she will get the max pension or very near it. A question to ponder though is if she could get an Irish pension just based on her Irish contributions could she also get a UK pension based on her UK contributions and would the two pensions be worth more than an Irish pension alone? There is nothing to stop one claiming two pensions if one is entitled to them.

Your wife can get a pension when she's 65 Roger, it's called a transition pension and only lasts for a year until you get the real contributory pension. Heaven knows why. Just to make things even more difficult the average years bands are different for each pension. Your wife will get full credit for her UK contributions. I believe the process is that one sends one's UK social security to the Irish pension folk along with the dates worked in the UK. They then contact the DHSS to get the details and top up your Irish recode accordingly.

Thanks for that Celeste. I am going to use the link to email them an enquiry.


Your chart is very helpful, however, perhaps you could help further with a query since you know more than I have been able to discover. I read the following on the Pensions Board website: "you need 520 full rate contributions if you hit
66 after 6 April 2012 (which my wife does), and, a ‘yearly average’ of at least 10 paid or credited reckonable contributions since you first started paying social insurance" (she paid full contributions from 1969 to 1988, and then began working in the UK)

The 48 aspect is described as an 'or' to the above, stating: "or, a ‘yearly average’ of at least 48 paid or credited reckonable contributions from 6 April 1979 to the end of the tax year before you reach pension age, known as the ‘alternative yearly average’".

It would be really good to have your view on this.

Thanks Roger. I foresee lots of correspondence as trying to phone is useless.

Hi Sheila

I have just been investigating the position for my wife in relation to her entitlement to an Irish pension. Under the latest ‘austerity’ changes in Ireland, you do not become entitled to an Irish pension until you reach the age of 66, which will rise to 67 in 2021, and 68 in 2028. Trying to calculate the level of qualifying contributions needed was a great deal more complicated - my wife worked both in Ireland and the UK. Clearly John Scully's chart help you and also my wife.

Thank you very much John. I'll root out the statement they sent me and see if I can work it out, failing which I'll write to them and ask for an explanation in plain English. Thanks for the time you spent on this.

Sheila, I just found my document from the Department of social welfare. To work out what pension I will be entitled to I added up all the numbers in the “Reckonable Paid Contributions For Pension” and in the “Reckonable Credited Contributions For Pension” columns, which gives me my total contributions. Then I subtracted the first year in the “Year” column from the last year and add one, this gives me my "contribution years". Then I just divided that into my total contributions to get my average. The table below gives the entitlement for each band of averages.

Yearly Average

Personal Rate (weekly)

Increase for Qualified

Adult aged under 66* ( see note)

(maximum weekly rate)

Increase for Qualified

Adult aged 66 or over* ( see note)

(maximum weekly rate)

48 or over
























Since I worked in the UK and France during my career when I come to claim I’ll have to give the Irish Social Welfare my social security numbers from both those countries so that they can include my UK and French contributions in the calculation. Non-EU countries I've worked do not count in the calculations.

While the Irish Government is pretending not to reduce the pension they are fiddling with the bands for the yearly averages so that the fall off is becoming steeper for less than maximum contributions. This could impact Henry’s benefit before he actually gets to claim it but probably not by too much.

Yes --- that WOULD have been a coincidence!

Celeste it's not too complicated and all is explained in the link I provided, including contributions from other EU countries. One doesn't need to talk to anyone. Obviously occupational pensions (such as Aer Lingus or some Dutch union) are a completely separate and unrelated matter.

Actually Celeste the Irish pension is anything but simple plus the rules are changing real time as the Irish economy continues to tank.

No Roger, another John Scully perhaps :-)

Thanks John. Appreciate the time you are taking. Henry is a bit more complicated - he worked in Aer Lingus for a few years in the early 60s, then went full time into art and has been a professional artist now for about 40 years. Fully registered with Revenue, hence tax free but also means very few credits. I am hoping as my spouse he can claim on my contributions record which is fuller.

Just read this post. Both of us are in our late 50s and are from southern Ireland. We had often wondered about the pension situation. I like to say a big thank you to Sheila for asking these questions and also thank you to Celeste for such a comprehensive reply. It has put our minds both at rest as we thought that we might have to return to Ireland to get our pensions. We love France so much, despite its quirks, that we do not want to go back to Ireland permanently. Thanks you again. John & Harriet

John -- (off topic!) -- did you ever work at Glasgow city council???


I have the document with my credits here so I'll take a look at it over the weekend and tell you how to interpret it Sheila. Basically you need to work out the average credits per year since Henry started working and then check that against a table which will tell you 1) what the transition pension payment will be a 2) what the contributory payment will be. I'll get back to you ASAP.

Thanks John. I will be 57 next month but Henry is heading for 64 so just want to be prepared. I did get a list of credits from the Department but couldn't make head nor tail of it. I think I'll write to them again tomorrow and ask for some sort of statement in plain English, i.e., am I entitled (and Henry) to a contributory pension, etc. and when do we apply for Henry. I had heard it was a year before you become entitled, but maybe that is the transitionary year you are referring to.

Celeste, The actual pension age is 66 but there is transition payment that is paid from 65 until you reach 66. I also think that if you were born after some date in the fifties that 65 might now be 66. I'm 59 so not too worried about it yet. I've got pre-retirement course handouts on the topic from three years ago somewhere in Dublin but there is a lot of useful info here......

Sheila, You should request a list of your credits from the Department so that you can see from the table in the above Q&A what you are entitled to.