Illness Benefit is not linked to your employer's policy on pay for sick leave (your employer can decide their own policy on sick pay and sick leave). More information is available in our document about sick leave and employment.
From 6 January 2014 no Illness Benefit payment will be made for the first 6 days of illness (up from 3 days). This means that a person will not be entitled to Illness Benefit for the first 6 days of their claim (unless the person was receiving Illness Benefit, Injury Benefit or a jobseekers' payment immediately before their claim). Claims with a commencement date before 6 January 2014 and those coming from Maternity Benefit will not be paid for the first 3 days of illness.
If you are not entitled to sick pay from work you may get Illness Benefit if you have enough (PRSI) social insurance contributions - see 'Rules' below. If you do not have enough social insurance contributions, you should contact the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local health centre. The Department's representative will assess your situation and may give you a Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
If you get sick pay from work, your employer will probably require you to sign over any Illness Benefit payment to them for as long as you get sick pay from work. When your sick pay ends, your employer should stop getting your Illness Benefit.
You must apply for Illness Benefit within 7 days of becoming ill. No payment is made for the first 3 days of illness. Note that this will be extended to 6 days as announced in Budget 2014 (see Budget 2014 paragraph above for exceptions).
To get Illness Benefit you must have:
*If you do not have 13 paid contributions in the relevant tax year, you can use the following years to meet this condition:
The relevant tax year is the second last complete tax year before the year in which your claim is made. So, for claims made in 2013, the relevant tax year is 2011. If you were getting long-term Jobseeker’s Allowance (15 months), Pre-Retirement Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Carer’s Allowance or Carer's Benefit immediately before applying for Illness Benefit you do not need to have 13 paid contributions. If you are getting reduced rate JA or have fewer than 260 PRSI contributions your Illness Benefit payment may be reduced.
You may combine your Irish PRSI contributions with social insurance contributions from a country covered by EU Regulations to qualify for Illness Benefit.
If you have 260 weeks PRSI paid since you first started work you can claim Illness Benefit for a maximum of 2 years (624 payment days).
If you have between 104 and 259 weeks PRSI contributions paid, you can claim Illness Benefit for up to 52 weeks (312 payment days).
When you finish your Illness Benefit claim you can requalify for Illness Benefit by paying an extra 13 PRSI contributions. (You can requalify with fewer than 13 contributions if your claim expired after 312 days and your additional contributions bring your total PRSI contributions paid up to 260. So, for example, if you had 250 contributions, when your IB expires you could work and pay 10 contributions to requalify for IB.)
Before January 2009 people with 260 weeks PRSI paid since they first began work, were entitled to Illness Benefit for as long as they were unfit for work and under 66.
When your entitlement to an Illness Benefit payment ends you may be eligible for other payments:
If you transfer from Illness Benefit to Carer's Benefit or Carer's Allowance and then back to Illness Benefit, your Illness Benefit will not be paid at a lower rate than that you were paid previously.
Since 13 February 2012, Partial Capacity Benefit replaces the previous arrangements (known as an exemption) where people on Illness Benefit could get permission to work part-time for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes and keep their full social welfare payment.
People who currently have an exemption will not be affected until their permission comes up for review. At that stage, the exemption will no longer be available to them but they have the option of applying for Partial Capacity Benefit. While you are on Partial Capacity Benefit there is no requirement that the work you do has to be for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes.
|Blind Pension||If you are getting Blind Pension you may also get Illness Benefit if you are ill and unable to work and you satisfy the PRSI conditions.|
|Carer's Allowance||If you are getting Illness Benefit and you satisfy the conditions for
Carer's Allowance, you may get half the personal rate of Carer's
Allowance along with your Illness Benefit payment.
It may also be possible for you to receive an Increase for a Qualified Adult for someone on your Illness Benefit claim while they receive a half-rate Carer's Allowance for caring for you or someone else.
|Disablement Benefit||If you are getting Disablement Benefit you may also get Illness Benefit if you are ill and unable to work and satisfy the PRSI conditions.|
|Domiciliary Care Allowance/Respite Care Grant||Illness Benefit is payable if you are getting Domiciliary Care Allowance and /or the Respite Care Grant.|
|Family Income Supplement (FIS)||If you are receiving Family Income Supplement (FIS) and become ill, payment of FIS may continue with Illness Benefit for up to 6 weeks.|
|Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Pension (including occupational widow’s/widower’s pensions) and One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Allowance or Prisoner’s Wife's Allowance||If you are getting any of these payments at the full rate you cannot get Illness Benefit at the same time. However if you are getting a reduced rate of one of these payments and become ill you may qualify for a reduced rate of Illness Benefit which will bring your total payment up to the maximum personal rate of IB that you are entitled to.|
You can continue to get Illness Benefit if you go to live in another country covered by EU Regulations. You must tell the Department of Social Protection in advance (otherwise you may lose payment or your payment may be delayed).
If you go to live in another country covered by EU regulations and become ill you may apply for Illness Benefit from Ireland if you paid your last insurance contribution in Ireland or you were getting Jobseeker’s Benefit in Ireland before you went abroad.
Illness Benefit is not paid in countries not covered by EU Regulations. However, if you go to a country not covered by EU regulations to get approved treatment your payment can resume when you return.
Your Illness Benefit claim will be reviewed from time to time and you may be asked to attend for a medical assessment. This assessment will be carried out by a Medical Assessor, who is a doctor employed by the Department of Social Protection. The Medical Assessor will give an opinion on whether or not you are fit for work. You must attend for a medical assessment when asked, or your benefit will be suspended.
If your Illness Benefit is stopped, you have a right to appeal the decision - see ‘Where to apply’ below. If you are receiving credited contributions only and these are stopped, you can seek a review of the decision but you do not have a right to appeal it.
No payment is made for the first 3 days of illness and no payment is made for any Sunday during your illness. Note that this will be extended to 6 days as announced in Budget 2014 (see Budget 2014 paragraph above for exceptions).
Illness Benefit rates are graduated according to your average weekly earnings in the relevant tax year.
Weekly payment in 2013 for claims started in 2009 or after
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate, €||Qualified adult rate, €|
|€300 or more||188||124.80|
|€220 - €299.99||147.30||80.90|
|€150 - €219.99||121.40||80.90|
|less than €150||84.50||80.90|
Weekly payment in 2013 for claims started in 2008 or before:
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate, €||Qualified adult rate, €|
|€150 or more||188||124.80|
|€125 - €149.99||147.30||80.90|
|€80 - €124.99||121.40||80.90|
|less than €80||84.50||80.90|
Illness Benefit can be paid directly into your bank or building society account.
You can get an increase in your payment for an adult dependant.
You may also get an increase in your payment for a child dependant. Your average weekly earnings do not affect the rate of payment for a child dependant.
Illness Benefit (excluding any increases for child dependants) is considered to be income for tax purposes and it is taxed from the first day of payment.
Illness Benefit is paid directly to you without any deduction of income tax. If you are employed, your employer will take your Illness Benefit into account for PAYE purposes. If you are unemployed, Revenue will take account of the amount of Illness Benefit paid to you when they adjust your tax credits or review the tax affairs of your spouse or civil partner. Contact Revenue for more information.
You should apply for Illness Benefit within 7 days of becoming ill. A delay of more than 7 days may cause you to lose some of your payment. If there is a good reason for a delay in applying, your payment may be backdated.
You can get an application form for Illness Benefit from your family doctor (GP) or hospital doctor. The reason you can only get this form from a doctor is because a doctor must fill in part of the form. It is not available online.
You must send in an intermediate medical certificate (known as MC 2) each week for as long as you are ill, unless you are told otherwise.
You must get a final medical certificate from your doctor before you go back to work. You are not required to pay for a social welfare medical certificate as the Department pays the doctor an agreed fee.
If you have any difficulties completing the forms, staff in your local social welfare office will be happy to help you. Any questions you have about Illness Benefit should be made directly to your Social Welfare Local Office or you can call the Illness Benefit enquiries telephone line - see 'Where to apply' below.
If you think you have been wrongly refused Illness Benefit you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. You can also appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, either straightaway or after the review. You must request a review or appeal a decision within 21 days of being informed of the decision.
If you have been refused Illness Benefit because you have been found
‘capable of work’ you are regarded as being capable of work even if you do
not consider yourself able to work. This means that you are entitled to apply
for Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance while you are appealing
against a refusal of Illness Benefit. While your appeal is ongoing you should
continue to send medical certificates from your doctor.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.