Can we make voluntary PRSI payments while working abroad?
Ask the Experts: I worry about my partner’s Irish pension in the future
My partner has worked in the United Arab Emirates for three years
My partner has worked abroad for six years - three years in London and three years in the UAE. During this time he has not made any PRSI contributions and I worry about his State pension in the future. Is it possible to pay into his pension while abroad, or when we return home?
Answer: Jerry Moriarty, CEO, Irish Association of Pension Funds
Your partner may be able to make voluntary PRSI contributions while working in a country outside the European Union if he had previously made contributions while in Ireland for at least 10 years (520 paid PRSI contributions).
Provisions are in place to ensure that people working within the European Union can use social insurance contributions paid in one country to qualify for benefits paid in another country, so if your partner was working in another EU country his payments would contribute to an Irish pension if he retired in Ireland.
Some agreements are also in place with countries outside the EU to recognise contributions paid in those countries. While that doesn’t apply to the United Arab Emirates at present, where your partner is working, it does apply to countries such as Canada, Korea, Australia and Japan.
Those working outside the EU, like your partner, may be able to make voluntary PRSI contributions in Ireland if they had previously made contributions while working in Ireland for at least 10 years (520 paid PRSI contributions).
He may also be able to make voluntary contributions if/when you do return home. There are certain time restrictions in place, and different rates apply depending on the last PRSI contribution paid or credited by you while you were still in Ireland. There is a lot of information on the Department of Social Protection’s website www.welfare.ie.
The Department of Social Protection is planning to change the whole system for qualifying for State pensions, which would be based on the total contributions paid over a working life rather than the averaging method at present, so keep an eye on that as well.