60,000 'claiming benefits abroad'
Published 07/07/2013 | 10:23
Nearly 60,000 people living overseas claim Irish welfare payments from destinations as far flung as the Cayman Islands, Iran and Morocco.
The total bill for sending pensions, child benefits, disability allowances, carer payments, jobseeker's and maternity benefits to countries around the world last year was nearly 300 million euros.
Around 13.3 million euros was paid out for child benefit alone. Those payments were made to 5,039 families - in respect of 7,922 children - who live outside Ireland.
The Department of Social Protection said it could not give a country-by-country breakdown of where child benefits are being claimed abroad. But it could detail the whereabouts of claimants for all other welfare payments.
The Government abandoned plans last year to cut child benefits paid to EU nationals working in Ireland for their children who live abroad, under EU regulations.
The newly-released figures also show State pension cheques - worth 260 million euros - were picked up in more than 90 countries around the globe last year.
Pensioners who have left Ireland but still qualify for the payments were most likely to live in the UK (11,229), the US (6,607) or Australia (3,761). Hundreds more are retired in New Zealand (243), the Netherlands (302), Spain (620), Germany (615), France (368), Belgium (88) and Portugal (73).
These include overseas residents claiming contributory and transition state pensions, as well as widows or widowers contributory pension.
Scores of pensioners get their payments in well-known tax havens such as Andorra (4), Bermuda (3), Cayman Islands (1), Cyprus (42), Isle of Man (38), Luxembourg (7), Malta (26) and British Virgin Islands (1).
Other far-off destinations where people pick up monthly Irish State pension cheques include Zimbabwe (6), Sri Lanka (2), Trinidad and Tobago (4), Qatar (1), Malawi (1), Jordan (2), Hong Kong (8), Fiji (1), Cambodia (1), Costa Rica (1), Guatemala (1), India (3) and Iran (1).