Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA)

IMPORTANT: The INOU does not process or manage applications for SUPPLEMENTARY WELFARE ALLOWANCE (SWA) payments. The INOU does not have access to your Social Welfare file and cannot provide any update on the status of your application for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. Please visit the Department of Social Protection for more information  Thank You.


The Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) Scheme was introduced for persons whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. It can consist of a basic payment and/or a supplement in respect of certain expenses a person may not be able to meet.

All SWA payments are means tested. This means that any extra income, in addition to your Social Welfare or SWA payment, either you or your spouse/partner have could affect how much you receive. The main purpose of the scheme is:

  • To provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes;
  • To guarantee a standard basic minimum income;
  • To provide people with low incomes with a weekly supplement to meet certain special needs (e.g. rent and mortgage interest payments) or a payment to help with the cost of any exceptional needs they may have;
  • To help those whose needs are inadequately met under the major schemes and those confronted with an emergency situation.

Please note:
As of November 2005, EU citizens may be able to claim a basic SWA payment, and access Rent Supplement and other SWA payments, if they:

  • Have been employed in Ireland
  • Have lost their job,
  • and Meet other relevant qualifying conditions for SWA.

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Applying for a Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) Payment

You can apply for assistance under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme through the Community Welfare Officer (CWO) in your local Health Centre. You can search by county and individual town. Listings include address, telephone number and opening hours.

In order to get an Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) payment you must:

  • Provide proof of identity and proof of address, and
  • Have applied for all possible benefits or assistance from both the Department of Social Protection or Health Board, and
  • Satisfy the Community Welfare Officer (CWO) that you need the particular payment, and
  • Satisfy the Habitual Residence rule (see Habitual Residence - Unemployment Payments page).
  • Satisfy the Genuinely Seeking Work rule (see Genuinely Seeking Work - Unemployment Payments) where you would normally be expected to apply for Jobseeker's Allowance/Jobseeker's Benefit.
  • Satisfy an SWA means test.

(This test is different to the means test for Jobseeker's Allowance). 

If you did not qualify for a Social Welfare or Health Board payment because you have failed to provide information or material you may be refused a Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) payment. If this happens you may be able appeal that decision - contact your nearest Centre for the Unemployed or the INOU for assistance.

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance

You can claim a basic weekly payment for yourself, your partner and your children if you can prove that your income is less than the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) rate appropriate for your family size, can satisfy a means test and the standard qualifying conditions above.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance rates 2024

AgeMaximum personal rateIncrease for an adult dependantIncrease for a child dependant
Aged 25 and over€230€154€46 for a child aged under 12

€54 for a child aged 12 or over

Aged 18-24 and living independently*€230€154
Aged 18-24 and not living independently€141.70€141.70People aged 18-24 with children qualify for the maximum personal rate of €230


*Supplementary Welfare Allowance for people aged under 25 is €230, only if the person is living independently and getting a state housing support such as Rent Supplement, Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

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Contact Us


You can speak, in complete confidence, to an Information Officer in the Information and Advocacy section directly at 01 - 856 0088 , Monday - Thursday 9.30 am to 5.00 pm and Friday 9.30am to 4.00pm.


Use the online Contact Us forms on the INOU website

Updated: 09/01/2024