Illness in your retirement


If you become ill or disabled in older age, you can get payments and services to support you. Your age and your needs will decide which payments and services you can get.

Housing supports for older people who are ill

There are housing grants available for older people and people with disabilities. If you need to adapt your home to continue living there, you may qualify for the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability.

Housing adaptations can include:

  • Adding a downstairs bedroom
  • Making the house wheelchair-accessible
  • Putting in a ground-floor bathroom

You may qualify for the Housing Aid for Older Persons Scheme to help pay for minor repairs to your home, for example, by replacing the windows or upgrading the electrical wiring.

You might also qualify for the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme from your local authority to fix mobility problems in the home. For example, it can help you pay for grab-rails on your stairs

If your own home is not suitable for you to live in

You may be able to get a specially adapted local authority house for older people and people with disabilities, or an adapted house provided by a voluntary housing organisation.

The availability of such houses, and eligibility for them, varies around the country. Contact your local authority for more information.

Moving to a nursing home

If you are moving to a nursing home, you may be able to apply for the Fair Deal scheme. This is a financial support to help you pay for care in a nursing home. There is tax relief on nursing home fees.

Financial supports for older people


If you are already getting a pension when you become ill or disabled, you will continue to get your pension and other entitlements.


If you are working a job, you may continue to be paid by your employer, but this depends on your contract of employment.

Since 1 January 2023, you are entitled to a minimum number of sick leave days each year. Read more about Statutory Sick Pay scheme.

Depending on your employer, you may get more than the minimum amount of sick leave and sick pay. This applies regardless of your age. Check your contract of employment or read more about sick leave and sick pay.

Aged Under 66

If you become ill and are unable to work before you are 66, you can apply for Illness Benefit. Contact your GP for an application form.

Illness Benefit is based on PRSI contributions. If you do not qualify because you do not have enough PRSI contributions or because you are self-employed, you may be eligible for a weekly Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

If your illness or disability arises from a work-related accident or illness, you may qualify for Occupational Injuries Benefit.

Long-term illness and disability

If you have a long-term illness or disability and you cannot continue working, you may be able to claim your occupational or personal pension scheme, if you have one.

If you are still not able to work for a year or more, you may qualify for Invalidity Pension.

If you do not qualify for Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension, you may apply for the means-tested Disability Allowance.

If you qualify for Invalidity Pension or Disability Allowance, you may also qualify for Free Travel and the Household Benefits Package. If you have problems paying your rent, you may be able to get Rent Supplement or Housing Assistance Payment.

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme may also provide help with various costs such as heating, exceptional needs and urgent needs.

Getting cared for at home

If you are in need of care, the Health Service Executive (HSE) may provide it to you or help you to pay for it.

Your carer may also be able to get a payment from the Department of Social Protection. Read more about the different payments to carers.

Help with home care

If you need support to continue living at home, you may get help from the Community Care Services section of the HSE.

You may also be able to get the Home Support Service, to help you continue living in your own home. This was previously called the ‘Home Care Package Scheme’.

Public health nurses can give you nurse care if you live at home.

If you pay for a carer to look after a family member (either directly or through an agency), you may qualify for tax relief on the costs of employing a carer.

Carer's Allowance

If your carer provides full-time care because you are incapacitated, they may be able to get Carers Allowance. If they get a Carer's Allowance, they may also qualify for Free Travel and the Household Benefits Package.

Half-rate Carer's Allowance

If your carer gets certain social welfare payments while providing full-time care to you, they can keep their main social welfare payment and get Half-rate Carer's Allowance.

Carer's Benefit

If your carer gave up work to care for you because you are incapacitated and needs full-time care and attention, they might be able to get Carer's Benefit.

They may be able to get Carer's Leave from their job.

Carer’s Support Grant

The Carer's Support Grant is an annual payment made to carers in June each year. You get this payment automatically if you are getting Carer's Allowance, Carer's Benefit, or Domiciliary Care Allowance, or you can apply to the Department of Social Protection. The grant was previously called the Respite Care Grant.

Paying for health services and claiming tax relief

You can get health services and benefits provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Medical card/GP visit card

You may qualify for a medical card which gives you free health services. The medical card is means-tested and there is a higher income limit for people aged over 66.

There is a different medical card means test for people over 70 that allows for a higher level of income.

GP visit card

If you do not qualify for a medical card, you can apply for a GP visit card. The GP visit card has higher income limits than the medical card. If you are aged over 70, you can get a GP visit card without a means test.

If your carer gets Carer’s Benefit or Carer’s Allowance, either at full or half-rate, they can get a GP visit card too.

Long-Term Illness Scheme

You can get your prescribed drugs, medicines, and some approved appliances for the treatment of certain medical conditions free under the Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Drugs Payment Scheme

If you do not have a medical card, the Drugs Payment Scheme covers the costs of prescribed drugs and medicines that are over a set monthly amount.

Hospital charges

If you have a medical card, you do not have to pay charges for public hospitals.

You do not have to pay hospital fees if you are a public in-patient or attending a day service.

If you choose private hospital care, you must pay the total costs involved. Some or all of these costs may be covered by your private health insurance.

Income tax relief

You can claim medical expenses against income tax paid.

There are income tax reliefs for older people and tax reliefs for people with a disability.

There is tax relief on nursing home fees.

Page edited: 6 September 2023