Can I claim an Irish and UK state pension if I’ve paid into both?

I haven’t completed the 520 mininimum payments for a State pension, but would like to pay

 

Question

I worked in the Republic for just over nine years and missed the 520 minimum PRSI payments or the 10 years to qualify for a State pension. I got made redundant and secured a job in the UK six months later.

I applied to pay voluntary PRSI to make up the shortfall, but it seems it has been rejected. I have not completed the 520 mininimum payments required to receive a State pension, which I know, but would like to pay.

My question is, can I claim both my Irish State pension and my UK pension if I have paid sufficient years into both?

I’m not due to retire for 20 years, and I don’t know if I will return to work in Ireland, as my work is specialised. But I wish to retire to Ireland. (PS I’m a native of Northern Ireland. )

Answer: Tommy Nielsen, Association of Pension Trustees Ireland (APTI)

The question of PRSI contributions needed to qualify for the State Contributory Pension has become increasingly complex in recent years.

In order to qualify for a pension, you must have made 520 full-rate PRSI contributions (10 years of contributions). Up to 260 of the contributions may be voluntary.

You can choose to pay voluntary contributions if you are under 66 and no longer covered by compulsory PRSA in Ireland and if you are no longer making social security contributions (compulsory or voluntary) in another EU country. You must however have at least 520 PRSI contributions paid and you must apply to make voluntary contributions within 60 months of the end of your last contribution year and agree to pay voluntary contributions from the start of the week after your last compulsory insurance.

As you can see, it is rather complex, and I suspect that you were turned down because you did not satisfy the conditions.

It is possible to qualify for a pension with less than 10 years of PRSI contributions where contributions have been made to a country which Ireland has a Social Security Agreement with.

Between EU-member states, social insurance is covered by EU regulations. Accordingly, it is possible for social insurance contributions paid in the UK to be taken into account towards satisfying the criteria for an Irish Contributory Pension. It is done when you apply for the Irish pension which, in your case, you might qualify for when you turn 68.

There is obviously a snag in this, since by the time you apply for your pension, the UK will have been out of the EU for some 20 years, therefore it may not be covered by these regulations or a bilateral agreement. It is impossible to predict the criteria which will apply at that stage.

I should also mention that the conditions to qualify for the State Contributory Pension have recently changed. Since April 2018, Home Caring credits for periods where the applicant has contribution gaps are applied under a new Total Contributions Approach. While there is nothing in your question to indicate that you would qualify for these credits, since this is an area in flux, it may be worth keeping an eye on between now and your retirement. In particular, if, in the meantime, you manage to pick up Irish employment which allows you to bridge the contributions gap.

Have a query for our panel of experts about emigrating, life abroad or moving home? Click here to submit yours. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice. Unfortunately we cannot provide personal responses to every query and only those selected for publication will be answered.

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