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FAQs: Retirement and pensions

Q1:  I live in the South and have been employed in Northern Ireland for the majority of my working life.  I am now approaching retirement and I’m unsure where to claim a state pension.

Depending on the number of social insurance contributions you have paid North and South you may be entitled to a portion of the state pension from both jurisdictions.

As a Southern resident working in Northern Ireland you are eligible to apply for the UK pension when you reach the UK pensionable age – UK State Pension Age Calculator.  You should make an application for the UK pension via the Department of Social Protection, Pension Section based in Sligo. Phone: (071) 915-7100 or Lo-call: 1890-500-000

When you reach Irish retirement age you can then apply via Sligo for an Irish pension. To be eligible for an Irish Pension you must have paid 52 weeks of social insurance contributions (at least 1 week from paid employment and the other 51 weeks can be from receipt of social welfare).

The Pensions Section will contact the UK for a record of National Insurance Contributions paid in Northern Ireland.  This information will then be used to assess the Irish pension application and a pro-rata pension may be awarded.

See welfare.ieHow to claim an EU pension from another EEA country

Q2:  I work in Donegal and live in NI. I have been paying Tax and PRSI in the south.  I got a letter from the NI revenue to say that I haven’t paid enough contributions to uphold my pension in the North. Do I have to pay National Insurance Contributions in the North?

A:  Under EU regulations you are required to pay Social Insurance contributions in only one country at any time.  So you do not have to pay National Insurance contributions in North but you may wish to pay voluntary contributions to enhance your UK State Pension.

However, you should be aware that the number of years for which a person needs to have paid national insurance contributions in order to get a full basic UK state pension has been reduced to 30 qualifying years for both men and women reaching state pension age on or after 6 April 2010.

Also, EU regulations allow cross border workers to combine social insurance contributions paid in other EU countries. So if you work across the border your PRSI and National Insurance payments can be combined to help you qualify for social insurance based welfare payments and the state pension.

Q3: I have lived and worked on both sides of the border at various times during my working life.  At all times I was a PAYE worker and made the normal National Insurance and PRSI contributions.  I am currently living in the South and working in the North.  When I retire in 4 years time will I receive a full pension from RoI or will I receive a part pension from NI and part from RoI?  Is there anything I can or should be doing now to ensure that my full pension rights are protected?

A: Workers who have made social insurance contributions on both sides of the border should apply for a retirement pension in the country where they live, so you should apply to the Department of Social Protection.  If you have not paid sufficient PRSI contributions your National Insurance contributions can be used to help you qualify for a full Irish Pension.  Depending on the number of National Insurance contributions you have made you may also be entitled to a portion of the UK state pension.

You can get an Irish State Pension forecast by contacting Social Welfare Pensions in Sligo, phone 1890 500 000 or (071) 915-7100

You can get a UK pension forecast by contacting the State Pension Forecasting Team, telephone:  0845 3000 168 or +44 191 218 3600

Q4:  Is tax deducted at source from UK pensions?  I am a pensioner resident in the RoI and I have income less than the RoI exemption limit.  Can I claim back the tax deducted by the UK?

A: Your UK pensions and your State Pension will still be taxable in the UK unless there’s a ‘double taxation agreement’ (covering pensions) with the country where you decide to live. There is such an agreement between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  As a result your pension will be taxed in your country of residence so once you are resident in the South your income is generally taxable in the South. The tax is usually due to be paid annually in a lump sum.

Please see the following form available for download from the HMRC website – Form IRL-Individualpdf icon. It enables you as a resident of Ireland to apply under the United Kingdom/Ireland Double Taxation Convention for relief at source from UK income tax on a UK state retirement pension or incapacity benefit, and UK-source pensions, purchased annuities, royalties and interest. You cannot claim a rebate of UK income tax from Irish Revenue, however the form also provides for a claim to repayment of UK tax in cases where payments of the income have already been made with UK tax deducted.

If you need help or further information, please phone HM Revenue & Customs + 44 135 535 9022 if calling from the South, or 0845 300 0627 if calling from the North or write to HM Revenue & Customs, Ty Glas, Ty Glas Road, Llanishen, Cardiff, United Kingdom, CF14 5YA.

Q5: I live in the North and have been working in the Republic since 2000 – will the contributions I have made be recognised when I claim State Pension in Northern Ireland when I retire?

A:  Under EU social security rules each member state in which you have worked should first calculate the pension you are entitled to under its own legislation.  Then a pro rata entitlement is considered on the basis that all your social insurance has been in that member state.  This means that your PRSI from the Republic could serve to enhance the rate of your NI/UK state pension if your national insurance record does not of itself allow you to get a full NI state pension.  The reverse is also the case so that you PRSI combined with national insurance may enable you to qualify for some rate of an Irish state pension.

Q6:  My husband and I have lived and worked in Northern.Ireland all our lives (we are now both late 50’s) and are considering moving to permanent residency in Co.Donegal.  How will this affect our health NHS and Pension (all paid into UK Fund)?

A: If you move to Donegal and are still working in NI you will continue to be entitled to the same routine NHS treatment. (When you retire this would generally not be the case.) As a cross-border worker or ‘frontier worker’ resident in Donegal you would also be entitled to an Irish medical card from the Health Service Executive in Ireland. This would entitle you to free public healthcare in Donegal and you should be able to retain the card when you retire on the basis of having a UK Retirement Pension, although automatic entitlement to an Irish medical card kicks in at age 70.

When resident in Ireland you are obliged to declare your NI income to Irish Revenue under self-assessment rules. If your only income is your earnings from NI there should be no additional tax liability to Irish Revenue. Please contact your pension provider to clarify if a change in residence has any impact on your pension contributions or entitlements.

Q7:  I’m resident in Northern Ireland but have been working in Ireland for almost 10 years.  How does this affect my state pension?  Am I eligible for a state pension in NI or Ireland?

A:  Depending on the number of years you have worked in NI and Ireland you may qualify for a State Pension from either the UK, Ireland, or both.  European social security rules allow contributions made in different member states to be combined on a pro rata basis so that contributions in Ireland could enhance the rate of a NI pension and vice versa.