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You can contact our dedicated Mortgage Arrears Information Helpline on 0761 07 4050 (Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5pm)

Social Welfare payment: Mortgage Interest Supplement

Information

Mortgage Interest Supplement (MIS) provides short-term support to help you pay your mortgage interest repayments.

From 1 January 2014, the Mortgage Interest Supplement scheme is closed to new entrants and no new applications will be accepted from this date. This measure does not affect current claimants immediately (people who were getting Mortgage Interest Supplement before 1 January 2014). The scheme will be wound down for existing claimants over a 4-year period.

This document on mortgage debt describes what you can do if you are faced with arrears on your mortgage.

Information for claimants getting MIS before 1 January 2014

Your interest is assessed as your gross monthly interest less mortgage interest relief and mortgage allowance or mortgage subsidy payable towards the interest part of your mortgage by the local authority.

You will only get assistance with the interest portion of your mortgage repayments. You will not get help with the portion that pays off the actual loan and house insurance. You should contact your lender to discuss repaying the actual loan. If you have a consolidated loan, only the interest portion of your loan that relates to the essential purchase, repair or maintenance of your home will be taken into account.

The minimum contribution for couples towards Mortgage Interest Supplement increased from €35 to €40 per week (since 1 January 2014). This further aligns Mortgage Interest Supplement contributions with the local authority rents structure. This change applies to new and existing recipients. The minimum contribution for single people, including single people with children (currently €30), has not changed.

Rules

The Mortgage Interest Supplement (MIS) scheme is closed to new entrants from 1 January 2014 and will be wound down for existing recipients over a 4-year period.

To qualify for Mortgage Interest Supplement you must meet the following conditions:

  • You must have made an application before 1 January 2014
  • You must satisfy the means test
  • You must have entered into and complied with an alternative repayment arrangement with your mortgage lender for at least 12 months
  • You must have been able to afford the repayments when your loan agreement was first agreed
  • The amount of your mortgage interest payable is not more than what the Department considers reasonable to meet your residential and other needs*
  • Only the portion of your loan that relates to the essential purchase, repair or maintenance of your home is taken into account
  • The size of the arrears are not greater than what the Department considers reasonable
  • You are habitually resident in this State.

*In exceptional circumstances, the Department’s representative may award a supplement where the amount of mortgage interest payable by a person exceeds the amount the Department’s representative considers reasonable to meet his or her residential and other needs. This supplement is payable for a maximum of 12 months from the date of the claim.

You can get MIS if your house is for sale. This means that people can engage in selling their home and continue to be eligible for MIS, subject to the other conditions of the MIS scheme.

You won't qualify for Mortgage Interest Supplement if:

  • You or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant work more than 29 hours a week (for exceptions to this rule, see 'Employment and Mortgage Interest Supplement' below)
  • You are involved in a trade dispute
  • You are attending full-time education (for exceptions to this rule - see 'Education and Mortgage Interest Supplement' below)
  • You are unlawfully in the State
  • You have made an application for asylum under the Refugee Act, 1996 and this application is awaiting final decision by the Minister for Justice and Equality
  • You have made an application under the Aliens Act 1935 to remain in the State and this application has not been determined
  • You are admitted to an institution (for example, a hospital) for more than 13 weeks.

Employment and Mortgage Interest Supplement

You will not qualify for Mortgage Interest Supplement if you are in full-time employment - that is, employment for 29 hours per week or more. (In the case of couples, if one of a couple is in full-time employment, both are excluded from claiming Mortgage Interest Supplement.) However, there are special retention arrangements that may allow you to keep a proportion of your Mortgage Interest Supplement.

Special retention arrangements

You can continue to get Mortgage Interest Supplement while you are in employment under special retention arrangements, for example, if you are participating in a Community Employment Scheme or are getting a Back to Work Allowance or Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. Your gross income from work must not be above €317.43 per week.

Back to Work Allowance (BTWA), Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, Family Income Supplement (FIS), PRSI, reasonable travel expenses and any childcare allowance payable on certain training courses can be disregarded in the assessment of the €317.43 weekly income limit.

Under these special retention arrangements you will continue to get 75% of your Mortgage Interest Supplement rate during your first year in employment, 50% in the second year and 25% in the third and fourth year. After the fourth year you will no longer be entitled to Mortgage Interest Supplement if you are in employment.

These retention arrangements also apply to people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and who return to full-time employment and sign off their social welfare payment. In these cases gross household income must not exceed €317.43 per week.

Education and Mortgage Interest Supplement

You won't qualify for Mortgage Interest Supplement if you are attending full-time education. However, if you are getting Mortgage Interest Supplement and qualify for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA), you will keep an entitlement to Mortgage Interest Supplement. You will be means-tested and if you changed from a reduced social welfare payment to the standard BTEA rate it will affect the amount of supplement you get.

Means test

When you apply for Mortgage Interest Supplement your means will be assessed. This will show how much of the mortgage interest you are able to pay. A means test examines all your sources of income. However, some income is not taken into account in the calculation of your means. You may qualify for Mortgage Interest Supplement if your income is below a certain amount and you meet the other conditions - see 'Rules' above.

Income taken into account for Mortgage Interest Supplement

  • Net Income from employment (this is gross income less PRSI and reasonable travel expenses. A child dependant aged 17 and under in full-time education will not have their income from employment taken into account for Mortgage Interest Supplement.)
  • Social welfare payments (there are some exceptions, see 'Income not taken into account' below)
  • Family Income Supplement
  • Cash income (for example, maintenance)
  • All income and the value of all property of which you may have deprived yourself in order to qualify
  • Capital (for example, savings, investments and property but not your own home)

The capital value of property (except your own home), savings and investments will be assessed on a weekly basis as follows:

Capital Weekly means assessed as
First €5,000 Nil
Next €10,000 €1 per €1,000
Next €25,000 €2 per €1,000
Any capital over €40,000 €4 per €1,000

Redundancy payments

A redundancy or lump sum payment will be assessed as capital, unless it has been used to reduce the balance of your mortgage or other outstanding loans.

Income not taken into account when calculating Mortgage Interest Supplement

When calculating your Mortgage Interest Supplement, the following income is not taken into account:

  • An amoount equal to the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) rate for your household circumstances
  • Child Benefit
  • Mobility Allowance
  • Foster care payments from the Health Service Executive
  • Payments for accommodating children under the Child Care Act
  • Income from Gaeltacht students
  • Grants or allowances from schemes promoting the welfare of blind people
  • Money received from charitable organisations, for example, St Vincent de Paul
  • Compensation awarded by the Compensation Tribunal in respect of Hepatitis C contracted from certain blood products, to those who have disabilities caused by Thalidomide and to those receiving compensation under the Residential Institutions Redress Board
  • Maintenance grants paid by VECs or local authorities for educational purposes
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Respite Care Grant
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory) and Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
  • Pensioners: If you are aged 65 or over (or where one of a couple is of pensionable age) and have a combined household income greater than the rate of SWA appropriate to your household circumstances, the difference between the maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) appropriate to your circumstance and the rate of SWA appropriate to your circumstances is not taken into account.
  • Carers' payments: The half-rate Carer's Allowance is never taken into account.
  • If you are getting Carer's Allowance, the amount of Carer's Allowance above the appropriate SWA rate for your situation (either the Qualified Adult rate for a couple or the personal rate of SWA) is not taken into account. So if you are one of a couple and getting Carer's Allowance the amount of Carer's Allowance being paid less the SWA Qualified Adult rate is not taken into account and if you are single or a lone parent the amount disregarded is the rate of Carer's Allowance being paid less the personal rate of SWA.
  • Any amount of Carer's Benefit in excess of the basic SWA rate for your situation (either the Qualified Adult rate or the personal rate of SWA) is not taken into account.
  • Rehabilitative earnings disregard: A certain amount of your income from rehabilitative work is not taken into account. If you are getting Disability Allowance or Blind Pension, €120 from rehabilitative training or employment is not taken into account in the assessment for Mortgage Interest Supplement. Any earnings over €120 from rehabilitative training or employment will affect your Mortgage Interest Supplement. If you are earning above €120 you can be assessed using whichever disregard is most in your interest - either the Rehabilitative earnings disregard or the Household income disregard (but not both).
  • Household income disregard: A certain amount of your household income is not taken into account. €75 of any additional household income* is not taken into account. Also, 25% of additional household income over €75 is not taken into account. There is no upper limit on the amount that can be disregarded.

Additional household income includes income from part-time employment or part-time self-employment, maintenance payments in excess of €95.23, Family Income Supplement, Community Employment (CE), Back to Work Allowance, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or FÁS course.

Maintenance and Mortgage Interest Supplement

Maintenance is assessed as additional household income (see above) and the household income disregard is used to find out how much of your maintenance is taken into account as means. For example, if your only additional income is maintenance, all of your maintenance payment up to €95.23 per week is assessed in full. The household income disregard of €75 applies to sums above this, so that any maintenance between €95.23 and €170.23 is not taken into account. 25% of all maintenance over €170.23 is also not taken into account.

Your contribution to mortgage interest (Household Contribution)

You must pay at least €30 towards your mortgage interest. You may pay more than €30 because you must also contribute any means you have towards your mortgage interest. If you are one of a couple and are claiming Mortgage Interest Supplement you must pay at least €40 towards your mortgage interest.

Rates

Calculating Mortgage Interest Supplement

Calculating your Mortgage Interest Supplement can be difficult. The Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) in your local health centre decides if you are eligible for Mortgage Interest Supplement and calculate the amount you will get.

The Department's representative adds together any income taken into account in the means test for Mortgage Interest Supplement. They then subtract any income not taken into account. Your remaining income and Household Contribution are added together to find your contribution to your mortgage interest - see 'Means test' above. Find out more about calculating Mortgage Interest Supplement.

The Mortgage Interest Supplement payable to you is the difference between your actual mortgage interest and your contribution to mortgage interest, as long as the difference between the two is a reasonable amount to meet your residential needs. The maximum rent limits set out for Rent Supplement may be used as a guide to decide what a reasonable amount is.

Generally the Department's representative will ensure that your income after paying the interest on your mortgage does not fall below than a minimum level. This level is the Supplementary Welfare Allowance minus €30 (€35 for couples).

How to apply

From 1 January 2014, the Mortgage Interest Supplement scheme is closed to new entrants and no new applications will be accepted from this date.

Appealing a decision

If you are not satisfied with a decision made in relation to Mortgage Interest Supplement, first find out why the decision was made by asking the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) who will give you the reasons in writing. You should provide any extra documentation to back up your case.

If the decision is not changed, you are entitled to have the appeal referred to the Chief Appeals Office in the Social Welfare Appeals Office. You can ask for a face-to-face hearing and you can bring along a representative to help you argue your case.

Where to apply

From 1 January 2014, the Mortgage Interest Supplement scheme is closed to new entrants and no new applications will be accepted from this date.

Further information

You can find more information on income disregards before June 2007.

Last Updated: 20/10/2014