Self-employed pensioners born between 6 April 1927 and 5 April 1932 (aged 87-92) received a half pension at age 66. Anyone in this age category who has since become widowed should be on the full widow/widower pension of €248 a week.

“In the last five years I have dealt with 10 such cases. I was able to secure an average of €40,000 arrears plus the full pension going forward. These people like so many others were unaware of their entitlements,” says Noel.

Smaller claims

  • Living alone allowance: This is available to people aged over 66 and is worth €500 per year to pensioners living alone or mainly alone. So if a family member is coming home for the weekend or staying over for a night or two a week that’s OK. It is not means tested.
  • Household benefits: Free TV licence and ESB allowance of €600 per year. It’s for the over 70s and is not means tested. For those aged 66-70 where both are on the pension or adult dependent and no adult children living with them, they qualify for the household benefits package,
  • The fuel allowance is available from age 66 and is worth €600 a year and is means tested. “Here again thousands are missing out on these schemes nationwide,” says Noel.
  • Medical cards for over 70: These are means tested but the test is quite liberal and here again many people are missing out. For a full medical card if you are over 70, earnings need to be under €500 a week for a single person or €900 for a couple. The first €36,000 of savings for a single person or €72,000 for a couple is not counted. For the doctor-only card, the weekly earnings limit is €700 for a single person and €1,400 for a couple.
  • Carers benefit.

    As people get older and need care, other benefits are available but they are means tested.

  • The full-rate carer’s allowance is €219 a week and is means tested. It’s worth noting that a person already on social welfare can claim half the carer’s allowance on top of what they already receive.
  • The carer’s benefit of €220 per week, which applies for a two-year period to those who leave a job or take time off to care for someone. It is not means tested.
  • Carers support grant: This is a yearly payment of €1,700 and is not means tested. Conditions apply so check the Social Protection website. You don’t have to be in receipt of either the carers allowance or carers benefit to receive this. CL
  • Noel Leahy offers private services for a fee. To contact Noel, email or write to Noel Leahy, Donohill, Co Tipperary.