Why is it important to protect my social welfare rights?
It is important that you maintain, as far as possible, your social insurance record. If you leave the workforce in Ireland, it is important that you keep your social insurance record active. There are a wide range of short-term and long-term benefits that are available to people who have paid social insurance. It may not be possible to make up gaps in the future, and if you can, it may be expensive. Significant gaps in your social insurance record can result in a reduced pension payment.
What options do I have to protect my social welfare rights?
You have three options to protect your social welfare rights while on assignment.
- The Volunteer Development Worker Scheme
- Paying Voluntary Contributions
- Being retained on the Irish System under national legislation
What is PRSI?
PRSI stands for Pay Related Social Insurance and is payable by employers, employees and self-employed people on earnings. In general, everyone between 16 and 66 years of age, who is in insurable employment, must pay PRSI.
If you are an employee, your social insurance contributions are deducted by your employer and collected by the Revenue Commissioners. In fact, the law makes your employer responsible for PRSI, though you may have to pay an ’employee’s share’.
PRSI is paid into the national Social Insurance Fund that is made up of a current account and an investment account managed by the Minister for Social Protection and the Minister for Finance, respectively. The current account consists of monies collected from people in employment. This money is then used to fund social insurance payments. The investment account is a savings account that is managed by the Minister for Finance.
All records of your insurance contributions are kept and managed by the PRSI Records section in the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The Department is responsible for the payments made as a result of your social insurance contributions.
Sometimes, you will hear people describe their PRSI contributions as “stamps.” This term dated from before 1979 when employers would literally stamp a card each week of employment. That card was then brought to a local social welfare office in order to claim social welfare payments.
What are the different classes of PRSI?
For people in employment in Ireland, social insurance contributions are divided into different categories, known as classes or rates of contribution. The type of class and rate of contribution you pay is determined by the nature of your work. Most employees in Ireland pay Class A PRSI. This class of contribution can entitle you to the full range of social insurance payments that are available from the Department of Social and Family Affairs, if you meet the qualifying criteria.
The other classes of social insurance are Classes C, D, B, E, H, J, S, K, M, and P. If you are insured under one of these classes, you are paying insurance at a lower rate than Class A contributors, which means that you are not entitled to the full range of social insurance payments. This is because you are paying less towards social insurance than a Class A contributor.
The amount of PRSI you pay will depend on your earnings and the class you are insured under.
What are PRSI Credits and what is the difference to a paid contribution?
Credited contributions (Credits) are social insurance contributions that are awarded by the Department of Social Protection to an insured person without a Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) payment being received from the insured person. Credits are recorded on your social insurance record.
The purpose of Credits is to help protect the social insurance entitlements of insured persons during periods when they may not be in a position to pay contributions.
This difference is important because for some social welfare benefits you must have paid a minimum number of weekly contributions.
For more information about PRSI please see the social welfare website.