Know Your Rights: Cohabiting and social welfare payments
I have applied for a means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance but I was told that I’m not eligible because of my live-in partner’s earnings. We live together but we are not married and we split our expenses equally. Why is this?
The Department of Social Protection (DSP) treats married and unmarried couples in the same way when assessing entitlement to a means-tested social welfare payment. It assesses the total income of the household, rather than the circumstances of the individual claimant.
This means that if you are married, or are living with another person in an intimate and committed relationship, the means of your spouse or partner are also taken into account. This is the case even if only one of you is actually claiming a payment. The DSP uses detailed definitions and criteria to assess whether a couple are cohabiting and you can read these online at welfare.ie.
How the means of a couple are assessed differs slightly depending on the payment being applied for.
For Blind Pension, State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Carer's Allowance, the DSP adds all of your means together and then halves them to get the assessable means for each one of you. For Jobseeker's Allowance, Disability Allowance, and Farm Assist, the DSP adds all your combined means together and then assesses them against the maximum household payment for your circumstances. If your spouse or partner is getting a social welfare payment in their own right, your means are taken to be half of the total means of yourself and your spouse or partner.
Sometimes a certain amount of income, or income from particular sources, is not taken into account. This is called an income disregard. For example, a certain amount of income from employment can be disregarded.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre