A recipient of the state pension (contributory) can claim an increase to their pension in respect of a qualified adult. A qualified adult is the spouse / partner of the pensioner who is being wholly or mainly maintained by the pensioner.
An increase may be payable at the maximum rate of payment where the means of the spouse / partner is €100 a week or less, while reduced rates are payable where the means are over €100 and less than €310 per week. No increase is payable where the means of the spouse/partner are in excess of €310 per week.
The means assessed are those of the spouse/partner only and generally include;
- Income from employment and self-employment;
- Income from non-social welfare pensions;
- Income from any other sources including insurance policies such as life assurance, a trust fund, a deed of covenant, social welfare payments other than payments made in respect of a minor (e.g. child benefit, guardians, foster child etc.); maintenance payments from a former spouse / civil partner, and various other forms of periodic payment;
- The capital value of property investments (whether rented or not), as well as savings. Note: If the capital value of property owned and invested is assessed, any income derived from the rental properties or leases is not included as income for means assessment purposes.
Where a couple has a joint savings account, the value of half of the capital amount is assessed against the spouse / partner.
In calculating the weekly means of the qualified adult the first €20,000 of capital is fully disregarded, the next €10,000 assessed at €1 per thousand, the next €10,000 assessed at €2 per thousand, with the remainder assessed at €4 per thousand.
The capital disregard, as well as the general €100 weekly income disregard, mean that, assuming no other means, a spouse / partner can have capital of up to €57,500 without affecting entitlement to a qualified adult increase payable at the maximum weekly rate. Tapered reduced rates of qualified adult increase can continue to be payable where the spouse / partner has capital of up to €110,000.
It should be noted that the value of the family home, regardless of who is the legal owner, is never taken into account in this assessment.