Exceptional Needs Payments

Exceptional Needs Payments are paid under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. You do not have to meet the habitual residence condition to qualify.

An Exceptional Needs Payment is a single payment to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. For example, the payment can be for bedding or cooking utensils for someone setting up a home for the first time, visiting relatives in hospital or prison, funeral costs or for clothing in exceptional circumstances.

Help with funeral costs

You may be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment to help you with the cost of a funeral if your income is low. Each case is decided on its merits by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local office.

Help with fuel bills

You may get help with the cost of your electricity or natural gas bill but only in exceptional circumstances.

What should I do if I have difficulties paying my energy bills?

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) has published information to help you if you are in financial difficulty with your energy bills.

COVID-19 (coronavirus)

If your employment (or self-employment) has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, or if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick, read our document on COVID-19 (coronavirus) and social welfare payments.

You can read our document on Employment rights during the COVID-19 restrictions.

The DEASP announced on 14 March that applications should be made either online or by post where possible. In most cases you will not have to go to an Intreo office in person.


You may be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment if:

  • You are living in the State
  • You satisfy a means test (all capital/property, except your home, is assessed in the means test – see below)

You won’t normally be eligible if you:

  • have access to alternative resources, including capital, to meet the need
  • are in full-time work (30 hours or more per week)
  • are in full-time education
  • are involved in a trade dispute or on strike. However, you may apply for an Exceptional Needs Payment for your dependent adult or dependent child.

Means test

In a means test, the DEASP examines all your sources of income. Sometimes a certain amount of income or income from particular sources is not taken into account and these are often referred to as income disregards. However, in the means test for an Exceptional Needs Payment, all capital/property (except your home) is taken into account and assessed as means – there are no disregards for capital.


The amount of payment you get will depend on a means test and the type of assistance you need.

How to apply

To apply for an Exceptional Needs Payment you will need:

  • Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers for yourself, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your children
  • Evidence of any income or social welfare assistance you are getting

You should apply for funeral assistance before the funeral takes place, however, failing this, you should apply as soon as possible afterwards.

You cannot appeal a decision on an Exceptional Needs Payment to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. However, you may request that a decision be reviewed by the SWA Review Officer for the office which made the original decision.

Where to apply

You should contact the DEASP representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local office.

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