Working across borders and pension eligibility


Q&A:My wife and I worked in the UK for about four years in the 1990s, before moving to Ireland.

While in the UK we were employees and made national insurance contributions, etc. We will be retiring in Ireland. Are we entitled to any (albeit small) state pension from the UK? If so would this be in addition to the State pension in Ireland?

Mr R.R., email

There is nothing to stop you making an application for any UK state pension to which you may be entitled while continuing to live here.

Assuming your wife was born after April 5th, 1955, she should make an application as she approaches her 65th birthday – as should you.

If your wife was born before April 5th, 1950, her state pension eligibility kicks in at 60. Between those two dates there is a tapering system, which essentially means she can apply approaching 61 if born before April 5th, 1951, 62 if born before April 5th, 1952, etc.

The department for work and pensions in the UK will assess eligibility on the basis of your national insurance contributions (stamps) during the time you worked in the UK. Where you are living has no bearing on that calculation.

However, the Department of Social Protection tells me that, as you reside here, you should apply through it for both any UK pension and Irish state pension to which you may be entitled. Essentially, the department will liaise with the UK department for work and pensions.

The first step, assuming you are 65 or 66, is that you should complete and submit form SPT/C1 to: State Pension (Contributory) Section, Social Welfare Services, Department of Social Protection, College Road, Sligo.

This form covers an application for an Irish contributory State pension or transition pension (on the basis of your PRSI contributions), as well as any other EU state pension – such as in the UK.

Be warned. To complete the form, you will need details of every employment held here or abroad and all your addresses here. Personally, I thought the PPS number and/or a UK national insurance number would be sufficient unique identifiers – after all, that is their purpose – but clearly bureaucracy is not going to be deterred by mere advances in technology.

If your wife is younger than 65 but eligible for a UK state pension by virtue of their rules (above), she would need to fill in a separate EUP65 form. Both are available online or from any welfare office.

If, as a result of the checks by the UK department for work and pensions, either or both of you are deemed to be eligible for a UK state pension, it would be paid electronically into the account you have indicated, usually monthly.

If you were separately entitled to a state contributory pension here on the basis of your Irish PRSI contributions, the fact that you receive a pension from the UK – or elsewhere in the EU – does not matter.

If, in either of your cases, your contributions in either jurisdiction on their own would not qualify you for a pension, contributions in both EU jurisdictions would be added together to see if that would help you qualify for a contributory pension payment.

Income tax exemption if wife is under 65

I am over 65 and my wife is only 61. Do both spouses have to be aged over 65 to claim the income tax exemption? We have less than €36,000 income for a jointly assessed couple.

Mr T.I., Kildare

The rules on the income tax exemption are very clear. It is the age of the older spouse that is relevant in qualifying for the higher exemption. As you are 65, your jointly assessed income is subject to the income tax exemption.

What’s the tax- free figure on gifts to children?

In a recent column, you stated that the tax-free allowance for assets passing from a parent to a child in 2012 was €225,000. Surely it was €250,000?

Mr M.C., email

You’re quite correct. The category A threshold (for gifts and inheritances from a parent to a child) under the capital acquisitions tax regime is now €225,000. Before the budget, it was €250,000.

Sorry for the confusion, although it does not change the position for the people in the particular circumstances raised.

* This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice. Please send your questions to Q&A, c/o Dominic Coyle, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or to No personal correspondence will be entered into

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