Social welfare payments and COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Introduction

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. Ireland is trying to reduce transmission of the virus by implementing a range of measures.

This document gives a summary of social welfare payments for people:

  • With no work or reduced hours
  • Who are sick or who are looking after someone who is sick
  • Who cannot work because they are looking after children

It also provides information about the changes to other social welfare supports such as Rent Supplement.

The information set out here may change in the weeks ahead so please check back as we will continue to add information as it is announced.

People with no work or reduced hours

Your employer may have to close their business for this period and send you home. This is called a temporary lay-off. Your employer may be able to continue to pay you under Revenue's Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and if so, you do not need to apply for a social welfare payment. If your employer cannot pay you for this period, you can apply for the special COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is for employees and self-employed people living in Ireland who have lost all their employment due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Since 29 June 2020, the rate of payment is reduced for workers who had previously earned less than €200 per week.

From 17 September 2020, the payment will be closed to new applicants and the rate of payment will be gradually reduced to bring it in line with the standard jobseeker payment.

You can find out more about the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

People getting COVID-19 payments – either the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Revenue’s wage subsidy schemes (including the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme) – will be awarded PRSI contributions at the class they were paying immediately before they were laid off, while they are getting the relevant payment or scheme.

This will help you to qualify for other social welfare payments such as Maternity Benefit and Adoptive Benefit.

If your working hours are reduced to 3 days or less per week, you can apply for Jobseeker's Benefit for the days that you are unemployed - this is called Short Time Work Support. If you do not qualify for Short Time Work Support, you can apply for Jobseeker's Allowance.

Find out more about lay-off and short-time working.

If you are on Revenue’s COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and your work is reduced to 3 days or less per week, you can apply for Short Time Work Support.

Find out more about your employment rights during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Find out more about:

Going abroad and unemployment payments

If you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker’s Benefit (Self-employed), Jobseeker’s Allowance or the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, you can go on holiday on the island of Ireland (this includes Northern Ireland) for a maximum of 2 weeks and get your payment on your return.

The Minister has stated that regulations will be amended to allow people getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and jobseeker's payments to go on holiday abroad for up to 2 weeks to countries on the COVID-19 Green List and get their payment on their return.

You must notify your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office before taking your holiday.

People who are sick and cannot work

The rules for Illness Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance have been changed to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus. The changes mean that if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19 and are medically required to self-isolate, you can get income support.

The changes are:

  • You do not have to wait 6 days before you can apply for Illness Benefit. This means Illness Benefit can cover the first week of a COVID-19 diagnosis (or medically-required self-isolation) and any subsequent weeks.
  • The personal rate of enhanced Illness Benefit is €350 per week. It will be paid for a maximum of 2 weeks where a person is self-isolating and for a maximum of 10 weeks if a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). If you have been certified for less than 10 weeks, you will be paid for the duration of your certificate.
  • The means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be removed, if you are medically required to self-isolate or diagnosed with COVID-19 and don't qualify for enhanced Illness Benefit.

The Government has also stated that self-employed people can get either Illness Benefit or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

If you work in the civil and public sector, you do not need to apply for enhanced Illness Benefit as separate leave arrangements are in place.

Read more about enhanced Illness Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

People who cannot work because they have to look after children

The Government has asked employers to be as flexible as possible in allowing staff time off to look after their children or other members of their families. This could include:

  • Offering paid compassionate leave
  • Allowing you to work from home
  • Altering your shifts, so that you can coordinate caring between you and your partner, or another person.
  • Allowing you to rearrange holidays
  • Allowing you to take paid time off that you can work back at a later time

Your employer may be able to continue to pay you under the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

If you left work to look after your child because of school or childcare closures during the public health emergency and you are not being paid by your employer, you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Contact the DEASP using MyWelfare or call 1890 800 024 to find out if you can qualify.

COVID-19 and Maternity Benefit

If you are pregnant and your employer has no work available, you should apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This applies both when your due date is within 16 weeks and if it is more than 16 weeks from the last day of your employment.

You should submit your Maternity Benefit application as normal. Your maternity leave should start no later than 2 weeks before the end of the week in which your baby is due.

If you are still getting a COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment when you are due to begin your maternity leave, you must close this claim and claim Maternity Benefit as normal.

Maintenance payments

If the other parent of your child has stopped or reduced their maintenance payment, you may get an increase in your One-Parent Family Payment or Jobseeker’s Transitional payment.

To get an increase, you should contact your local Inteo Centre. You will need to write a letter stating either the reduced amount or that you are no longer getting a maintenance payment and provide it to your local Intreo Centre.

Your One Parent Family payment or Jobseeker’s Transitional payment will be increased for a period of up to 12 weeks. After that period, your payment may be reviewed and your means reassessed.

Rent Supplement

Rent Supplement is a short-term income support to people in the private rented sector who are finding it difficult to pay their rent.

Rent Supplement ensures that your income, after paying rent, does not fall below a minimum level. This minimum level is the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your circumstances minus a set Household Contribution (you may pay more depending on your means).

The basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate is €201 – plus an additional amount for dependents. However, if you are a new Rent Supplement applicant and applied on or after 13 March 2020, you will be assessed for Rent Supplement using an increased Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate of €350 plus an additional amount for dependents. These new rules will be in place until 31 August 2020.

Find out more about Rent Supplement.

People currently getting a social welfare payment

If you are self-isolating or diagnosed with COVID-19

If your only income is a social welfare payment and you are medically required to self-isolate or you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will continue to get your social welfare payment. You do not need to apply for Illness Benefit. This also applies to people on Community Employment (CE), Tús, the Rural Social Scheme or a funded training and education programme.

If you are unable to collect your payment from the post offices due to illness or self-isolation, you can:

  • Leave your social welfare payment at the post office until you can collect it yourself. Your payment will be in the post office for at least 20 days after you were first due to collect it. Some payments such as the State pension and payments to carers will be available in the post office for 90 days.
  • Nominate a temporary Agent to collect your payment. You can get a form for appointing a temporary Agent on the An Post website (pdf).
  • Apply to transfer your payment to your financial institution using form DIR PMT1 (pdf). Your social welfare payment can be paid directly into your personal account at a bank, building society or at certain credit unions.

If your income is a mixture of both earnings from employment and a social welfare payment and you are medically required to self-isolate or you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will continue to get your social welfare payment. If your social welfare payment is less than the rate of the COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit, you can apply for a top up payment from the Illness Benefit section. To qualify you must meet the criteria for COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.

This top up payment of will not affect any other social welfare payments that you may be getting from the DEASP.

If you lose your job or your hours at work are reduced

If your income is a mixture of both earnings from employment and a social welfare payment and you lose your job because of the COVID-19 public health emergency, you can apply for the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

If your hours at work are reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic and you have a reduction in your earnings, you should inform the DEASP. Your social welfare payment will be reassessed and you will get any increases due to you.

Adult dependent increases

The weekly rate for an adult dependant is temporarily increased from €134.70 to €147 for the following payments:

From 17 September 2020, the temporary increase in the IQA for jobseeker’s payments will end – the IQA rate will return to €134.70.

There is no date set for the end of the temporary increase in the IQA for Illness Benefit.

If you are getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or you are being paid under the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, when you apply for social insurance payments (for example, Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and the State Pension (Contributory), you will be treated as if you have been paying insurance contributions based on your normal social insurance class.

Free Travel Scheme

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has confirmed that all transport operators are now allowing customers with a PSC Free Travel Card to continue to avail of the Free Travel Scheme, even if the card has expired.

Collecting social welfare payments

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, you can use your expired Public Services Card for ID to collect your social welfare payment.

In March 2020, many social welfare payments changed from being paid every week to every 2 weeks. From August 2020, most working age income supports such as jobseeker’s payments and the One-Parent Family Payment will return to being paid weekly. However, a number of payments will continue to be paid every 2 weeks, for example, State pensions and payments to carers. This applies both to payments collected at post offices and those paid into a bank account.

If your payment is paid every 2 weeks, it will not affect the amount you get but it will reduce the need for you to leave home to collect your payment.

You can find out more about when social welfare payments are paid.

Intreo centres

All Intreo centres and Social Welfare Branch Offices have reduced opening times, from 10am to 2pm. You can find out when Intreo Centres are open to the public on gov.ie.

You can continue to contact your Intreo centre or Social Welfare Branch Office by phone or email outside of these hours.

You can also get information through MyWelfare or call 1890 800 024.

If you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been medically required to self-isolate, you should not visit an Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office.

Page edited: 6 August 2020