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 unless you are certain you don't qualify.
Your first step before applying, is to find out which payment you may be entitled to.
Payments are available for unemployed people, for families and children, for widows, widowers and surviving civil partners, for guardians or orphans, for older and retired people and for disabled people and their carers. If you get a social welfare payment you may also qualify for extra social welfare benefits.
The Household Budget Scheme allows people who get certain social welfare payments to have regular small amounts directly deducted from their social welfare payment to pay household bills. 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 documentation varies from one payment to another. The type of documentation required will also depend on your personal circumstances. However, you must normally submit some documentation with your claim form.
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.
If you qualify for a payment, you may be able to get an increase in your payment for an adult dependant. You may be able to claim for 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.
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.
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 'Further information' below.
How to apply
You must complete the application form and provide supporting documentation. You can get an application or claim form, from the Department of Social Protection, your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office or your local Citizens Information Centre. You can also get an application form on the Department's website. You can also apply for some services online.
Your Intreo Centre, Social Welfare Branch Office or your local Citizens Information Centre can help you fill in your claim form.
If you need a birth, marriage or death certificate for any social welfare payment you can get it for free from your nearest Superintendent Registrars Office or the General Registrar Office (GRO). To get the reduced rate you need a letter or note from the Department to prove that the certificate is needed for those purposes. The Department of Social Protection will keep any certificates you get for free.
The General Registers Office keeps all records relating to births, deaths
and marriages in Ireland (not Northern Ireland). Birth certificates of adopted
children and non-Catholic marriage certificates are only available from the
General Register Office. The Superintendent Registrars are located in each
county and hold records of all births, deaths and marriages that took place in
those counties. You can get more information about getting a Birth,
Marriage or Death certificate.
Where to apply
To claim a social welfare payment you should fill in the correct application form and return it to the Department of Social Protection. The return address is printed on the application 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 put it into 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 birth certificate to prove you have given the correct date of birth.
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. The type of information required depends on the payment you apply for.
When you send your application form into 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 documentation with your application form.
At this point, the Department may request further 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 or not 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.
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 laid out in Social Welfare Acts, Statutory Instruments, and relevant Department guidelines, circulars etc. 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 his or her decision on your claim in writing. Generally, if your application for a payment has been successful you will get a letter stating this. If the decision is unfavorable however, the deciding officer must give you a letter stating you claim has been rejected and also the reasons for this decision in writing. 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 challenge his or her decision.