If you are getting a social welfare payment and your personal circumstances change you must contact the Department of Social Protection. A change in your circumstances can mean you get an increase or a decrease in your social welfare payment. You could even be entitled to an extra or different social welfare payment.
Contacting the Department will mean you get your increase faster or avoid repaying overpayments.
A change in your personal circumstances may mean you qualify for a social welfare payment for the first time. For example, if you were working and recently lost your job, you may be entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance. If you are in private rented accommodation you may also qualify for Rent Supplement. Read more about losing your job.
Sometimes, there can be a change in your personal circumstances but you don't qualify for a social welfare payment. In this case, you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. For example, if your employer does not pay you when you are out of work sick, but you don't qualify for Illness Benefit, you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
You can also read more about Rent Supplement and changes to your circumstances.
A change in your personal circumstances may mean you qualify for an additional social welfare payment. For example, if you are getting a One-Parent Family Payment and get a job for at least 19 hours a week, you may be able to claim Family Income Supplement (FIS).
A change in your circumstances may mean you no longer qualify for the payment you are currently getting but qualify for a different payment. In some cases, you may be financially better off on the different payment. For example, Domiciliary Care Allowance is no longer paid when the person being cared for reaches 16 years of age. However, the person with the disability can apply for Disability Allowance, which is paid at a higher rate than Domiciliary Care Allowance.
Some extra payments, such as the Fuel Allowance, the Living Alone Allowance or the Household Benefits Package as it applies to people under age 70, require you to either live alone or with certain qualified people. If you do not qualify because of this rule and your circumstances change, you should contact the Department of Social Protection.
You may also lose the payment if an 'unqualified' person comes to live with you.
If you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant take up employment or get income or capital from any other source, it may reduce your payment.
If you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant save a portion of your State Pension (Non-Contributory) each week, these savings will be taken into account as means. It is important to notify the Department of Social Protection of these savings to avoid an overpayment.
A change in your circumstances may mean you no longer qualify for a social welfare payment. For example, you are not entitled to Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension if you remarry or enter into a new civil partnership or cohabit with someone else.
It is a criminal offence to claim a social welfare payment, if you know you are not entitled to it. You can be prosecuted for claiming a social welfare payment that you are no longer entitled to.
In some cases, the Department of Social Protection will automatically change
your social welfare payment to reflect changes in your personal circumstances.
For example, if you are getting a social welfare payment, you will
automatically get an increase in your payment when you are 80 years of age.
However, in most cases you must contact the Department of Social Protection
when your circumstances change.
In some cases, if you qualify for more than one payment you will have to choose the one that is of most benefit to you. For example, though you may qualify for Illness Benefit it may be of greater benefit for you to claim Disability Allowance because of the additional benefits, such as Fuel Allowance, the Living Alone Increase and the Household Benefits Package. You can get help and advice on which social welfare payment you qualify for and which is of most benefit to you from your Intreo centre or social welfare local office and your local Citizens Information Service.
Read more about the different social welfare payments you may be entitled
Families and children
Widows, widowers and surviving civil partners
Guardians or orphans
Older and retired people
Sick or disabled people
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.