Emergency Medical Cards
The HSE Medical Card Scheme makes emergency medical cards available to certain people who need access to free public health services. They are available to support people with serious, life-limiting illnesses, who need urgent access to essential health services.
Two types of cards are provided:
- An emergency medical card for those who are terminally ill and in the last 12 months of life. This card is not means tested and will never expire.
- A temporary medical card for those with urgent needs who are seriously ill. This card is provided for an initial 6-month period. Please note: You must apply for a standard means-testing medical card prior to the end of the temporary 6-month period.
Note: On the 9th February 2021, it was announced that the Irish Government approved plans to extend medical cards to those who are terminally ill with a prognosis of up to 24 months. More here.
Applying for a card
A healthcare professional – usually your GP, your hospital consultant, or a social worker – will apply for a card on your behalf. They will send a completed application form and a medical report with your details and diagnosis.
Following approval of your application, a medical card number will be issued to you. It will be active on the system within 24 hours and can be seen by healthcare professionals and pharmacies. A card will usually be posted to you within 10 days. For further information see the HSE site.
Standard Medical Cards
For a non-emergency means-tested medical card, the fastest way to receive a card is to apply online. Have your personal details ready, including your PPS number, D.O.B and income/expense details.
Discretionary Medical Cards
If you have medical expenses, and do not qualify for a medical card based on the means test, you may be eligible for a discretionary medical card, which gives you access to the same services.
The application process is the same as the standard means-tested card, but you can also provide information about your family’s medical expenses. These include attending your GP, medications and appliances, and hospital treatments. Visit MyMedicalCard.ie to apply online.
Be sure to include a medical report with your application which can include information from your GP/hospital consultant/public health nurse/social worker therapist or your carer or family members.
Remember to also include evidence of medical expenses such as:
- copies of receipts for prescribed medicines
- copies of receipts or bills from your GP, consultant or other healthcare professional
- copies of hospital bills for inpatient stays or attendance at the emergency department
- evidence of purchase or renting healthcare appliances. For example, a CPAP machine or independent living equipment
For information on other types of medical cards visit the the HSE site.
- The GP Visit Card is available to certain people who are not eligible for medical cards
- The Long-term illness scheme facilitates access to drugs and medical appliances which are necessary for the treatment and management of nominated conditions.
- The National Treatment Purchase Fund minimizes public patient waiting lists by purchasing procedures from private hospitals.
- The Drugs Payment Scheme sets a maximum monthly amount that individuals or families have to pay for all prescribed drugs, medicines or appliances that they use.
Payments after death
Occupational Injuries Scheme funeral grant
If the death happened because of an accident at work or while travelling to or from work or as a result of an occupational disease, you may be entitled to a funeral grant of €850 under the Occupational Injuries Scheme.
Payment for six weeks after death
Generally if the deceased person received a weekly social welfare payment, the payment is continued for six weeks after the death. The rules involved are quite complex. The six-week payment is normally paid in a lump sum by cheque. More here.
Death of a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant dies while getting any of the following benefits (state pension; pre-retirement allowance; weekly supplementary welfare allowance; jobseeker’s benefit/allowance; illness/carer’s/injury benefit; disability/carer’s allowance; invalidity/blind pension; incapacity supplement; farm assist; death benefit under OIS or back to work/back to work enterprise allowance) and the amount included a payment in respect of you, the same rate of payment is continued for six weeks after the death.
If you qualify for a widow, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s payment, it is payable from the seventh week.
If your wife or partner dies while receiving maternity benefit, you may qualify for the rest of her entitlement to the payment or for six weeks’ payment, whichever is longer. You do not have to meet the usual PRSI contributions for the benefit.
Death of a child dependant
If your child, for whom you were receiving an Increase for Qualified Child on your social welfare payment, dies, then payment of the Increase for Qualified Child continues for six weeks after the
death. Child Benefit ceases from the end of the month during which the child dies.
One-Parent Family Payment
If you are receiving the one-parent family payment and your only child dies, then the payment together with the Increase for Qualified Child is payable for six weeks after the death.
If the person you are caring for dies (and he/she is not your spouse or partner), your carer’s benefit or carer’s allowance is continued for six weeks after the death. More on benefits and services for carers HERE
If the person (usually the mother) getting child benefit dies, you should contact the Child Benefit Section to get the payment transferred to the other parent or the child’s guardian.
Widow/widower/civil partner’s contributory pension
If your spouse or civil partner dies, you may be entitled to a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension from the Department of Social Protection. To qualify, you must
satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions based on either your own PRSI contributions or those of your late spouse or civil partner (the two PRSI records cannot be combined). You may be entitled to this pension even if you are separated from your spouse or civil partner or if you are divorced or your civil partnership has been dissolved. This payment is not means-tested and not affected by other income. This pension cannot be paid if you subsequently marry, enter into a civil partnership or cohabit.
One-Parent Family Payment
If you are a widow, widower or surviving civil partner, with dependent children, and you do not qualify for Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension because you do not have enough PRSI contributions, you might be entitled to the One-Parent Family Payment. If you were living with a partner who was not your spouse or civil partner you may be entitled to the One-Parent Family Payment if your partner dies and you have dependent children. This is a means-tested payment. More Information.
Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner grant
A once-off grant is payable to a widow, widower or surviving civil partner with dependent children, who are entitled to:
- Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension
- One-Parent Family Payment
- Death Benefit under the Occupational Injuries Scheme
- Bereavement Grant
- A Widow’s/Widower’s Contributory Pension from another EU state or a country with which
Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement
Widow/Widower/Surviving Civil Partner’s pension under the Occupational Injuries Scheme
If your spouse or civil partner died as a result of an accident at work or from an occupational disease, you may be entitled to a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Pension under the Occupational Injuries Scheme, which is usually paid at a higher rate than the Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension. More Information
Orphaned children may be entitled to a Guardian’s Payment (Contributory) depending on the PRSI contributions of their parents, step-parent, or Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory) which is granted on the basis of the orphan’s means test. This is a weekly payment which is usually paid to the guardian of the children up to age 18. The payment may be paid up to age 22 if the children are in full-time education. More Information.
Normally, you may only receive one weekly social welfare payment, but there are exceptions. If you are receiving a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension or One-Parent Family Payment and you are also entitled to either Illness Benefit, Jobseeker’s Benefit, Health and Safety Benefit, Maternity Benefit or Incapacity Supplement you may be paid one of these payments at half the normal personal rate. You may be able to receive a social welfare payment and also receive a half-rate Carer’s Allowance, subject to a means-test. You may receive a Guardian’s Payment in addition to a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Pension. A qualified child increase is also payable for the orphan. If you are aged under 66 and qualify for a Blind Pension, you may receive this at the full rate in addition to a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Pension or a One-Parent Family Payment. If you are getting an Invalidity Pension and satisfy the conditions for a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension you can get half the personal rate of Illness Benefit, for a limited time, instead of Invalidity Pension and claim the Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension.
Other relevant payments
Living Alone Increase
The Living Alone Increase is a weekly payment for people receiving certain social welfare payments who are living alone. You must apply separately for this increase. More information.
You are entitled to a free travel pass if you are permanently living in Ireland and:
- You are aged 66 or over
- You are aged between 60 and 66 and your late spouse or civil partner held a free travel pass
- You are under the age of 66 and are getting certain long-term disability payments or Carer’s
- Allowance from the Department of Social Protection or similar payments from another EU/EEA member state or a state with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement
Treatment Benefit includes Dental Benefit, Optical Benefit and hearing aids. Entitlement to any of these benefits is based on PRSI contributions. Dentists, opticians or hearing aid suppliers normally keep stocks of application forms. If you are dependent on your spouse or civil partner and he/she dies when over the age of 60 and eligible for Treatment Benefit, you may continue to be eligible for as long as you remain widowed. More Information
Supplementary Welfare Allowance
The Supplementary Welfare Allowance is a means-tested scheme for people with little or no income. It is not normally paid to people who are in full-time work or to full-time students. Weekly payments may be made to people who do not qualify for any other social welfare payment or who are awaiting a decision on an application for a payment. One-off payments can be made for exceptional or urgent needs. For example, you may qualify for an Exceptional Needs Payment if you do not have adequate means to pay for the funeral. More Information
Carers.ie – practical information and guidance for carers
Citizens Information – Public service site with information on death and bereavement
Department of Social Protection – Irish government information on bereavement
Money Advice and Budgeting Services (MABS) – free, confidential, independent and nonjudgmental
service for people in debt, or in danger of getting into debt, in Ireland
NI Direct Government Services
Help and services for the bereaved in Northern Ireland