Know the benefits you are entitled to

By Jonathan Acton -

A senior citizen has written from Mullingar explaining she had read our senior citizen guidebook and had learned she had not received some allowances she would have qualified for. Over the next few weeks I plan to outline some of these benefits and point you in the right direction if you need to question any items outlined.

Telephone Support Allowance

A weekly rate of €2.50 is available for people who are getting both the Living Alone Increase and the Fuel Allowance along with their social welfare payment. If a person getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory) from the Department of Social Protection dies, inform the Department of the death as soon as possible and return the person’s social services card (the card they use to collect their payment at the post office). Note both the PPS Number and card number for your reference. Also return their Free Travel Pass. Usually, the spouse, civil partner, cohabitant or carer will receive a payment for six weeks following the death.

Medical Cards

If you have a medical card issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE), you can receive certain health services free of charge. Normally, your dependent spouse or partner and your children are also covered for the same range of health services. To qualify for a medical card, your weekly income must be below a certain figure for your family size. Cash income, savings, investments and property (except for your own home) are taken into account in the means test. The assessment of a couple for medical card purposes is based on the age of the older person. If your income is above the limit, you may still be able to obtain a medical card if your circumstances would result in hardship without one. This is sometimes called a discretionary medical card. Lo-call 1890 252 919 to apply for a medical card or contact your local health office. You can also apply online at

Household Benefits Package

This is a package of allowances which help you with the costs of running your household.

The package is available to everyone aged over 70 and to people under age 70 in certain circumstances. You must be living permanently in the state (this means full-time and all year round) and you must apply for a Public Services Card (PSC) if requested to do so by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Only one person in a household can qualify for the package at any time. You must show that you are the registered consumer at the address for which you are applying for the Household Benefits, for example, by providing a utility bill. If you are renting your home, your landlord must provide written confirmation that you are a tenant (including the MPRN or GPRN of the address you are living at) and confirm that you are paying your own energy bills.

Fuel Allowance

A Fuel Allowance is a payment under the National Fuel Scheme to help with the cost of heating your home during the winter months. It is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. For more information, Lo-call 1890 500 500 or 071 915 7100. Alternatively, ask for application form NFS1 at your local post office or text FORM FUEL with your name and address to 51909.

Centenarian Bounty

The Centenarian Bounty is a national award made by the Irish president to people who have reached 100 years of age. You will receive €2,540 and a congratulatory letter signed by the president on your 100th birthday. The Centenarian Bounty is usually awarded on behalf of the president by a local member of the clergy or friend. The centenarian can also request that the letter and the Centenarian Bounty be sent directly, without a presentation ceremony. This payment was always an ongoing joke with myself and my nanny Acton. Unfortunately we lost her a few years shy of the date the payment would have been due – none the less on her 100th birthday I had a cheque “signed” by Michael D Higgins and brought it to her resting place in Mullingar. I hope she got a laugh from that one!

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