Written answers

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Eligibility

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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606. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 294 of 2 June 2022 in which he stated they may be entitled to receive standard illness benefit subject to satisfying the PRSI contributions conditions for the scheme, if he will outline the way someone who is out of work after contracting long Covid in work and does not have the tax credits for long term illness is to receive payment. [32645/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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My Department provides a suite of income supports for those who are unable to work due to an illness or disability.  It is important to note that entitlement to these supports is generally not contingent on the nature of the illness or disability but on the extent to which a particular illness or disability impairs or restricts a person’s capacity to work. 

As the Deputy is aware, the enhanced rate of illness benefit is payable for a maximum of ten weeks for those diagnosed with Covid-19.  If the person remains out of work after the 10-week period they may be entitled to receive standard Illness Benefit subject to being under pensionable age and satisfying the PRSI contributions conditions for the scheme.  They must have at least 104 class A, E, H or P social insurance (PRSI) contributions paid since first starting work.  They must meet either of two conditions:

Condition 1

- They must have 39 weeks of PRSI contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax year, of which 13 must be paid contributions.  Alternatively, the 13 paid contributions can be used from either of the two tax years before the relevant tax year

- the last complete tax year (before the year in which the claim for Illness Benefit begins)

- the current tax year

OR

Condition 2

They must have 26 weeks of PRSI contributions paid in the relevant tax year, and 26 weeks of PRSI contributions paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year.

The relevant tax year is the second-last complete tax year before the year in which the claim for Illness Benefit begins. For example, the relevant tax year is 2020 for a claim made in 2022.

It is important to note that people in receipt of both enhanced illness benefit and standard illness benefit receive credits while in receipt of illness benefit. I believe the range of options for people to claim entitlement to illness benefit outlined above allows for flexibility of access to the scheme.

If the person is experiencing long-term illness and doesn’t satisfy the contribution conditions for Illness Benefit, they may apply for Disability Allowance which is a means-tested payment. 

Apart from these income supports, my Department also provides means tested supports under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme for people who are ill but who do not qualify for Illness Benefit.  An Additional Needs Payment is now available to people who have expenses that they cannot pay from their weekly income.

My Department keeps the range of income supports under review in order to make sure they meet their objectives.  Any changes to the current system would need to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context. 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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