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Co-habiting couples won’t be entitled to widow’s pension
Minister Heather Humphreys

01 Mar 2022 / ireland Print

Co-habitees will not be entitled to widow’s pension

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has said in the Dáil that co-habiting couples will continue to be unable to claim widow’s or widower’s pension on the death of one of the couple.

The minister was responding to a question from Fine Gael TD Peter Burke (24 February), who asked whether there was an anomaly to qualify for the (non-contributory) widow's pension – given that the assets of the co-habitating couple are considered as means.

Not payable

Either form of the widow’s pension is not payable to surviving co-habiting partners who have not entered into marriage, or a civil partnership, with the person with whom they were co-habiting.

Entering into a marriage or civil partnership was a legal act, the minister added, that conferred both rights and obligations on both parties that did not exist in law between co-habiting couples.

The minister stated that, to qualify for the widow(er)’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension, one must:

  • Be a widow, widower or surviving civil partner,
  • Not co-habit with another person, and
  • Satisfy certain social insurance conditions.

For the Widow(er)’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension, one must:

  • Be a widow, widower or surviving civil partner,
  • Not be co-habiting with another person,
  • Pass a means test,
  • Be habitually resident in the State.

Legal context

The legal context governing marriage is regulated by the Minister for Justice, Humphreys added.

“Extending the current provisions to people who have not undertaken equivalent legal obligations would carry significant costs, and also raise significant issues about criteria, if it were to be based upon co-habitation,” she said.

Any decision to extend the qualifying criteria would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations, as well as any legal issues that might arise, the minister added. 

Social protection officials were reviewing the treatment of co-habiting couples and would produce a report for the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Special Committee on Gender Equality, the minister said.

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