Written answers

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Benefits

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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362. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the analysis that her Department has carried out into extending the enhanced illness benefit to persons suffering from long-Covid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45568/22]

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.  Entitlement to these supports is in general contingent on the extent to which a particular illness or disability impairs or restricts a person’s capacity to work rather than the nature of the illness or disability

As a result, I do not believe there is a need to research and devise a specific payment for long-Covid as it is covered, like all other conditions, by a range of disability-related payments that are not condition-specific.

In March 2020, the Government introduced an enhanced rate of Illness Benefit for persons who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 or who were a probable source of infection with Covid-19.  This temporary measure has been extended a number of times by the Government.  The rate of €350 for the enhanced payment is higher than the normal maximum personal rate of illness benefit.  The focus of this payment was to enable people to comply with medical advice to isolate, while having their income protected and to limit the spread of the virus.

Where a person continues to be ill beyond 10 weeks of receiving Enhanced Illness Benefit, they can apply for standard Illness Benefit.  This is the primary income support provided by this Department to those who are unable to work due to illness of any type and who are covered by PRSI contributions.  It is payable for up to two years.  

In case of long-term illness or disability, this department provides social assistance and social insurance payments in the forms of Disability Allowance and Invalidity Pension.

Disability Allowance is one of a number of means-tested payments provided by the Department.  It is paid to people with a disability aged 16 to 66 years, who are habitually resident in the State.

Invalidity Pension is a long-term payment for persons who are permanently incapable of work and who are covered by social insurance.  A person must also have been incapable of work for at least 12 months; be unlikely to be capable of work for at least another 12 months; or be permanently incapable of work.

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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