Claiming a social welfare payment
The Department of Social Protection has a range of social welfare payments that provide financial support. To get a social welfare payment, you must apply for it. So, if you think you are entitled to a payment you should always apply.
Your first step before applying, is to find out which payment you may be entitled to.
Payments are available for:
- People who are unemployed
- Families and children
- Widows, widowers and surviving civil partners
- Guardians or orphans
- Older and retired people
- People with a disability
If you get a social welfare payment you may also qualify for extra social welfare benefits.
Household Budget Scheme
If you get certain social welfare payments, you can put a regular amount towards your household bills using the Household Budget Scheme. For example, telephone, gas, electricity, and local authority rent.
To apply for a social welfare payment, you must fill in an application form and provide other supporting documentation. The information and documents you must submit depend on the payment and your personal circumstances. However, in general you must submit some documents when you apply for a payment.
If you apply for, or are currently getting a social welfare payment (including Child Benefit) you may be asked to register for a Public Services Card.
Adult and child dependents
If you qualify for a payment, you may be able to get an increase in your payment for an adult dependant or a child dependant. If it is possible to claim for dependants, the Department of Social Protection will ask for information about your dependants on the application form.
How long to process claims
It may take some time for the Department to process your claim. As part of the procedure, you may be interviewed in your home or asked to attend an interview at your local social welfare office.
While your claim is being processed by the Department, you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
It is important that you make your claim as soon as you know you are entitled to the payment. All payments must be claimed within a specific period of time. If you don't claim on time you may lose out. Find out more about making a late claim.
Further information or documents
If you are asked to provide information reasonably required by a social welfare inspector when investigating your claim, you must provide the statements, information or documents within 21 days. The same time period applies to your spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, employer and certain other people (for example, landlords).
If you are refused a social welfare payment or get a lesser amount than you expected, you have 21 days to appeal the decision of the Department of Social Protection.
There is more information about how the Department makes decisions on claims in 'More information' below.
How to apply
You must complete the application form and provide supporting documents.
You can apply for most payments online. You can also get an application form from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office or your local Citizens Information Centre. You can also get an application form on gov.ie.
Your Intreo Centre, Social Welfare Branch Office or your local Citizens Information Centre can help you fill in your application form.
Birth certs for social welfare
You are no longer required to provide copies of birth certificates for social welfare purposes if you were born in Ireland and your birth is in the Register of Births. The Department of Social Protection can access this information directly.
You can get more information about getting a Birth, Marriage or Death certificate.
Where to apply
To apply for a social welfare payment you should either:
- Apply online at MyWelfare.ie (only certain payments)
- Send a paper application form to the address printed on the form
You can get information about applying for social welfare payments through MyWelfare.ie. You can also call 0818 405 060.
How social welfare decisions are made
Deciding Officers are employed by the Department of Social Protection to accept or reject claims made in Ireland for social welfare payments. Deciding officers are given the power to make these decisions through the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 as amended and other social welfare legislation.
Before making a claim or applying for a social welfare payment you must complete the application form. The application form will ask for various details, such as your name, address, PPS number, income etc. These details will help the Department of Social Protection to process your application and if your claim is successful, to arrange your payment.
As part of the application process, you must also provide supporting documentation to prove that the information you have given on the application form is correct. For example, a payslip to show your employment income.
To qualify for a social welfare payment, you must meet all the qualifying criteria for that payment. Different social welfare payments have different qualifying criteria. It is your responsibility to prove to the Department that you qualify for the payment you have applied for.
If you are applying for a payment due to an illness or disability your doctor must fill in part of the application from. If you are in work, your employer may have to fill in a part of the form.
What happens when I send my application?
When you send your application form to the Department of Social Protection, it will be assessed to make sure that it is correctly completed and that you have sent all the required documents.
At this point, the Department may request more information from you or ask you to attend a medical examination to find out if you qualify for the payment you applied for. For example, if you apply for Disability Allowance you may be asked to attend for a medical examination. If this is the case, the doctor's report stating whether you meet the medical criteria is sent to the person at the Department of Social Protection who is responsible for making a decision on your claim.
What does a Deciding Officer do?
When the Department has all the information it needs, a Deciding Officer will examine your claim and will either accept or reject your claim for the social welfare payment you applied for. The Deciding Officer must apply the law as set out in Social Welfare Acts, Statutory Instruments, and relevant Department guidelines, circulars and other regulations when making a decision on your claim. If your claim is approved, the Deciding Officer will determine the rate of your payment.
A Deciding Officer must record their decision on your claim in writing. Generally, if your application for a payment has been successful you will get a letter stating this. If your application is rejected, the Deciding Officer must give you a letter in writing stating your claim has been rejected and the reasons for this decision.
If you have been awarded less than the maximum rate of payment, you must get a letter stating the reasons for this.
It is useful to know the reason or reasons why a deciding officer rejected your claim or awarded you less than the maximum rate of payment, especially if you wish to appeal their decision.