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Exceptional Needs Payments (SWA)

From: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

What an Exceptional Needs Payment is

An Exceptional Needs Payment is a single payment to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income.

For example, the payment can be for bedding or cooking utensils for someone setting up a home for the first time, visiting relatives in hospital or prison, funeral costs or for clothing in exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional Needs Payments are administered by the Community Welfare Service of the Department.

How to qualify

Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or health service executive payment. However, there is no automatic entitlement to such payments.

ENPs are payable at the discretion of the CWS officer taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case.

You may be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment if:

  • you are living in the State
  • you satisfy a means test (all capital/property, except your home, is assessed in the means test)

You won't normally be eligible if you:

  • have access to alternative resources, including capital, to meet the need
  • are in full-time work (30 hours or more per week)
  • are in full-time education
  • are involved in a trade dispute or on strike. However, you may apply for an Exceptional Needs Payment for your dependent adult or dependent child.

Rate of payment

The amount of payment you get will depend on a means test and the type of assistance you need.


You should contact the Community Welfare Service at your local office

An application form is available to download here or from your local office

Claim Form: Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA1)

Claim Form for Supplementary Welfare Allowance/ Exceptional Needs Payment


To help process your claim, you should have the following:

  • Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers for yourself, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your children
  • proof of address
  • proof of residency (where relevant)
  • proof of identity, for example a Public Services Card (if you have one), a passport, driving licence, work permit, immigration (GNIB) card
  • documents to show your income and financial situation, such as pay slips and bank statements

Operational Guidelines

Operational guidelines describe the processes and procedures that staff in the department follow when carrying out their work.

Operational Guidelines: SWA - Exceptional Needs Payments.