Claiming for adult and child dependants
If you qualify for a social welfare payment you get an amount for yourself, which is called the 'personal rate of payment'. You may also get an increase in your payment for an adult dependant and any child dependants you may have.
What is a child dependant?
A 'child dependant' is usually a child up to 18 years of age who lives with you.
If you have been getting a Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least 156 days and your child is in full-time education, an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) will be paid up to 22 years of age or up to the end of the academic year in which he or she reaches 22.
If you and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant are each getting a social welfare payment you are both paid a half-rate IQC (so together your family gets a full IQC).
Read more about claiming for child dependants.
What is an adult dependant?
You may get an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) with your payment for an adult dependant (this is usually your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant). The person does not have to be totally dependent on you (for example they may be working and earning or have income from other sources) but any income they have will be assessed in a means test.
A cohabitant is one of two adults (whether of the same or opposite sex) who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who are not close relatives.
If you are single, widowed, divorced, separated, a former civil partner or not living with your civil partner, and living with a person aged 16 or over, you can claim an increase for them but only if he or she is caring for a child dependant of yours.
How do I claim a payment for a qualified adult?
To claim an Increase for a Qualified Adult you must be getting a social welfare personal payment. Your adult dependant cannot have a social welfare payment in his/her own right (except for Disablement Benefit, Occupational Injuries Death Benefit in respect of an orphan, Child Benefit, Guardian's Payment, Domiciliary Care Allowance, Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Foster Care Allowance or Half-rate Carer's Allowance.)
For most social welfare payments your adult dependent cannot have gross weekly earnings or income (before tax and PRSI deductions) of more than €310. If your adult dependant earns less than €100 you will get a full Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA). If your adult dependant earns between €100 and €310 you will get a reduced rate of IQA. If your adult dependant is earning more than €310 you will not get an IQA.
The rules are different for Jobseeker's Allowance (JA), Disability Allowance (DA) and Farm Assist (FA). For these payments your household income is assessed in a means test. Your total household means are then deducted from the maximum payment (this is the personal rate including any increases for adult and child dependants) to find the actual amount of JA, DA or FA you are entitled to.
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant has a social welfare payment (see exceptions above) in their own right or is on a FÁS or VTOS course and getting an allowance in his or her own right you cannot get an IQA on their behalf but you can get a half-rate increase for each qualified child.
Find out more about claiming for an adult dependant on citizensinformation.ie.
How do I work out which payment I should apply for?
Your local Citizens Information Service can help you to work out what is the most advantageous payment for your circumstances. The social welfare system is complex and it can be difficult to work out what payment (or combination of payments) suit your circumstances - especially if you have dependents and qualify for more than one payment.
For example Family Income Supplement (FIS) is not payable with Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) but it may be payable to the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of someone who is getting JB or JA. So, if you are getting JA or JB and your spouse or partner is working part-time you can claim for them as a dependant on your payment (their income is assessed against your payment but there are some disregards applied). Alternatively if your family has at least one child your spouse or partner could claim Family Income Supplement. If they did this you cannot claim for them as an adult dependant on your payment. You need to work out which option results in a higher income for your family.