Maintenance and social welfare payments


Men and women are required by law to maintain their dependants. Maintenance can be paid voluntarily or as a result of a maintenance order granted by the courts. More information about how to apply for and enforce maintenance is available in our page, 'Maintenance orders and agreements'.

If you are applying for a social assistance payment you must satisfy a means test. All your sources of income (for example, employment, capital, cash income and maintenance) are assessed by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). This page explains how maintenance is assessed in the means test. More information on other sources of income and how they are assessed is available in our page on the means test.

Upcoming changes to how maintenance is assessed

In March 2024, the Government passed legislation to say maintenance for a child will not be assessed in the means test. However, the change has not come into effect yet.

We will update this page when more detail becomes available.


All income from maintenance is assessed as means. This includes both maintenance for you and maintenance to you for any of your children. If you are getting maintenance from more than one person it will be added together and the total will be assessed as means. Maintenance paid to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is also taken into account as means.

In the case of the following payments, some maintenance is not taken into account (see 'Maintenance not taken into account' below):

Maintenance not taken into account

Half of all maintenance paid is disregarded or not taken into account in the means test.

If you have housing costs, your rent or mortgage repayment up to a maximum of €95.23 per week can be offset against maintenance payments. Half the balance is then assessed as means. You must provide proof of rent or mortgage payments.

If you do not have any housing costs, half of your means from maintenance is assessed.


A single parent with one child is getting maintenance of €150. The maintenance order specifies €50 for the parent and €100 for the child. Rent is €100 per week.

Maintenance €150.00
Minus rent €95.23
Total €54.77
(Only half assessed as means)
Total means: €27.38

Getting a payment before 2003

If you were getting one of the payments listed above (except WFP) before 2003 you may qualify to have your maintenance assessed using the old rules. The Department of Social Protection provides more detailed information about these rules and the assessment of maintenance as means.

How maintenance is assessed for Rent Supplement

In the means test for Rent Supplement maintenance is assessed as additional household income and maintenance payments up to €95.23 per week are assessed in full. The household income disregard applies to maintenance payments above this amount.

Household income disregard: A certain amount of your household income above the SWA rate for your situation is not taken into account. €75 of any additional household income is not taken into account and 25% of additional household income over €75 is not taken into account. There is no upper limit on the amount that can be disregarded. Read more about calculating Rent Supplement.

How maintenance is assessed for Working Family Payment

Only one Working Family Payment (WFP) payment can be made in respect of any family. This means that if you are applying for WFP, the parent from whom you are getting maintenance must not be getting WFP.

You cannot offset your housing costs against maintenance payments for WFP, if you have already done so in the means test for another social welfare payment.

How maintenance is assessed for a child with a means-tested socialassistance payment

If you are getting Jobseeker's Allowance any maintenance paid to your parent on your behalf is assessed as benefit and privilege against you. If a portion of the maintenance is paid directly to you this portion is assessed as cash income against you and the remainder which is paid to your parent is assessed as benefit and privilege.

If you are getting Disability Allowance any maintenance in the form of cash income from either parent is assessable as means.

Page edited: 8 March 2024