The Household Benefits Package (HHB) comprises an electricity or gas allowance (currently €35 a month), and a free television licence (currently €160 a year). In general, anyone who is aged 70 or over and who is resident in Ireland can qualify for the HHB (max one HHB per household). It is necessary to apply for the HHB and it is advisable to do so some months in advance of your 70th birthday. The application form can be requested from the Department of Social Protection or downloaded from their website.
People who are aged 66 to 70, may qualify for the HHB on certain conditions, or by means testing. In order to qualify if aged 66 to 70, you should be receiving one of the following payments from the Department of Social Protection:
- State Pension (Contributory)
- State Pension (Non-Contributory)
- Widow’s/Widower’s/Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory or Non-Contributory Pension
- One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife’s Benefit / Allowance or Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance
- an ORDINARY Garda Widow’s Pension (from Department of Justice)
- a Social Security Pension/Benefit from a country covered by EU Regulations, or from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement.
In addition, there are specific requirements in respect of the other people, if any, in your household. As with all schemes, there are specific conditions and some concessions. Full details can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3bacea-operational-guidelines-household-benefits-package/ and https://www.gov.ie/en/service/e87d27-household-benefits-package/
The means testing broadly follows the format of the means testing for Fuel Allowance. As with all means testing, there are quite specific conditions which vary depending on whether a person is single, or living with a spouse or civil partner. As a very rough guide, a single person with a gross weekly income equal to or less €348.30, or a couple with a weekly income equal to or less than €570.80, might qualify for the HHB on the basis of means testing. Saving over €20,000 are taken into account. In the case of a couple, the age of both parties is taken into account.
If you are aged 66 to 70 and think you may qualify on any grounds, it is worthwhile applying.
As you are probably aware, the RCPSA has been campaigning for some time to have the qualifying conditions for those aged 66-70 to be amended to include public service pensioners who are not in receipt of a social welfare pension, such as the State Pension (Contributory). The RCPSA’s case and arguments are attached below.