Wednesday, 21st March 2018
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Cohabiting and social welfare payments


I applied for a means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance, but I was told that I’m not eligible because of my partner’s earnings. Why is this? We live together but we are not married and we split our expenses equally.


The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) treats married and unmarried couples in the same way when assessing entitlement to a means-tested social welfare payment. It assesses the total income of the household, rather than the circumstances of the individual claimant.

If you are married or are cohabiting, the means of your spouse or partner are also taken into account. This is the case even if only one of you is actually claiming a payment. The DEASP uses detailed definitions and criteria to assess whether a couple are cohabiting and you can read these online at

The way the means of a couple is assessed can differ slightly, depending on the payment being applied for. For Blind Pension, State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Carer's Allowance, the DEASP adds all of your means together and then halves the total to get the assessable means for each of you. For Jobseeker's Allowance, Disability Allowance, and Farm Assist, the DEASP adds all your combined means together and then assesses the total against the maximum household payment for your circumstances.

If your partner is getting a social welfare payment in their own right, then your means are taken to be half of the total means of yourself and your partner.

Sometimes a certain amount of income, or income from particular sources, is not taken into account. This is called an income disregard. For example, a certain amount of income from employment can be disregarded.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service.


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