What is the winter fuel allowance?
In this guide we take a look at what the winter fuel allowance is, how much is paid and how you can apply. Are you eligible for the allowance? Let’s find out!
What is the winter fuel allowance?
The winter fuel allowance is a means-tested payment under the National Fuel Scheme. Those who qualify receive a weekly payment of €33 from the Department of Social Protection.
The 2022-2023 fuel allowance season starts on Monday 26th September 2022 and will be paid for 28 weeks.
How much is the winter fuel allowance?
The fuel allowance consists of a payment of €33 per week for 28 weeks. Alternatively, those eligible can choose to receive the allowance in two lump-sum payments of €462 each.
The first lump sum payment will be issued in September 2022, while the second lump sum will be paid in January 2023.
To get your allowance paid in two lump sums, you must fill in the FA CPF1 form available here at least one month before the first lump sum is due.
It’s important to note that the lump-sum option is not available on all schemes and only one fuel allowance payment per household is permitted.
Budget 2023 announcement
It was announced in the recent budget that households in receipt of the fuel allowance will also receive an extra lump sum of €400 in November of this year, in addition to their regular weekly payment.
The income threshold for the allowance will also increase by €80 a week from €120 to €200 above the State pension rate in January 2023. For people aged over 70, it will increase to €500 a week for a single person and €1,000 for a couple in January 2023.
Am I eligible for the winter fuel allowance?
Households that have previously been paid the allowance don’t need to reapply and should automatically be paid it again this year if they remain entitled to it.
A person may qualify for the allowance if they are receiving certain social welfare payments from the Department of Social Protection or HSE.
This includes the following:
- State Pension (Contributory) or State Pension (Non- Contributory)
- Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) or (Non-Contributory) Pension
- Disability Allowance, Incapacity Supplement, Blind Pension or Invalidity Pension
- Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment or Guardian's Payment (Contributory and Non-Contributory)
- Farm Assist
- Long-term Jobseeker's Allowance
- Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance
- Disabled Person's Rehabilitation Allowance or the Infectious Diseases Maintenance Allowance
Someone may also be entitled to the allowance if they are taking part in an employment or educational scheme and they are entitled to keep their secondary benefits.
You must also live alone or only with:
- A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and/or dependent children
- A person who is getting Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit and is caring for you or your dependent spouse, partner or cohabitant on a full-time basis
- A person getting short-term Jobseeker's Allowance or basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance
- Other people who are getting the qualifying payments and who would also be eligible for a fuel allowance in their own right
For further information and to see a full list of eligibility criteria visit the fuel allowance page on the Gov.ie website.
How income is assessed for the fuel allowance
As the fuel allowance is means-tested the Department of Social Protection (DSP) examines all your sources of income. To be eligible for the allowance, your gross weekly income must be below a certain amount to pass the means test.
You are usually accepted as passing the means test for the allowance if you are already in receipt of a qualifying social assistance payment.
The amount of means that you are allowed to have for the fuel allowance is the current maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory), including any increases that you might get for your age, living alone and dependants, plus €120.
The main items included in the means test are:
- Cash income: This includes income that you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may have.
- Capital: For example, the value of your savings, investments, shares or any property you have (but not your own home). The first €20,000 of your capital is not taken into account.
- Carer’s Allowance: If you are getting a qualifying social insurance payment and you or your adult dependant is getting a half-rate Carer's Allowance, then your half-rate Carer's Allowance will be taken into account in the means test for the allowance.
How and when is it paid?
Unless you have chosen to receive the payment in the form of two lump sums, the fuel allowance is usually paid on the same day you receive. your weekly social welfare payment.
If you are not getting a social welfare payment, your fuel allowance can be paid directly into your current account or you can choose to collect it from your local post office.
How do I apply?
To apply for the allowance, simply fill in the Fuel Allowance Scheme application form. Alternatively, you can pick up a form at your local post office.
It’s best to apply for the allowance before the start of the winter heating season in late September. If you apply after this, the department cannot backdate your allowance.
As long as your circumstances remain the same each year and you continue to get the same social welfare payment, you don’t need to reapply for the allowance each year as long as your circumstances remain the same.
If your circumstances have changed you should contact the Department of Social Protection to ensure you still have an entitlement to the allowance.
Fuel allowance plans for 2023
An additional 80,000 households will become eligible for the fuel allowance next year under new plans, meaning the number of beneficiaries is expected to rise to 450,000 under the expansion.
Under the new measures, a single person over 70 can have an income of €500 per week and a couple can have a combined income of €1,000 per week and qualify for the allowance.
People over 70 will no longer need to be in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment to be eligible for the allowance.
As well, if you are 70 or over, the amount of capital has also been increased under the expansion. Now, the first €50,000 you may have in savings, investments and property is being completely disregarded in the means test.
Other ways to save on winter energy bills
The fuel allowance is just one way that you can save money on your energy bills during the winter period. If you don’t qualify for the allowance don’t fret as there are a number of other ways to save on your gas and electricity bills.
Free electricity allowance
If you’re over the age of 70 you can apply for the free electricity allowance, which is a monthly supplement of €35 to help with the cost of energy.
Switch energy supplier
With energy prices on the rise, you’re likely to notice a significant increase in your winter energy bills.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to start saving on your energy bills today is by switching supplier. With our comprehensive energy comparison tool, you can compare gas and electricity deals from all suppliers nationwide.
Switching only takes a few minutes and can all be carried out online. Here’s a list of everything you need to make the switch and a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about the energy switching process to help make the process easier.
Reduce your energy consumption
If you’re still in contract and don’t want to pay an early exit fee to switch supplier, consider adjusting your habits around the home to reduce your energy consumption instead.
Simple steps such as replacing light bulbs with LED ones and unplugging appliances at night can help save around €200 on your annual energy bills
Contact the Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Services
Sligo F91 T384
Phone number: 071 9157100 or 0818 200400