What is Illness Benefit?
Illness Benefit is a weekly payment that you may get if you cannot work because you are sick or ill.
To get Illness Benefit, you must be under 66 and meet the social insurance (PRSI) conditions – see ‘How to qualify for Illness Benefit’ below.
You should always apply for Illness Benefit if you are medically certified as unfit for work. Even if you don’t qualify the weekly payment, you may get PRSI credited contributions which can help you qualify for future social welfare payments.
If you don’t qualify for Illness Benefit or while you are waiting for a decision on your claim for Illness Benefit, you may get a Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
Whether your employer pays you, or not, while you are out sick from work, you should apply for Illness Benefit. Illness Benefit is not linked to your employer's policy on pay for sick leave. However, if you get sick pay from work and Illness Benefit, you should ask your employer about any arrangements in place for this.
Illness Benefit can be paid abroad in some situations. Find out about the rules for getting Illness Benefit abroad.
COVID-19 and enhanced Illness Benefit
When a worker is told to self-isolate by a doctor or has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they can apply for a COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week.
COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit has different 'Rules' than normal Illness Benefit. Find out more about getting COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.
How to qualify for Illness Benefit
To qualify for Illness Benefit, you must:
- Be aged under 66
- Be medically certified as unfit for work by a medical doctor (GP).
- Have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions – see below.
- Apply within 6 weeks of becoming ill.
There is no payment for the first 3 days of illness. These are known as ‘waiting days’ (Sunday is not counted as a waiting day.) There are no waiting days if you were getting certain other social welfare payments within 3 days of the start of your illness.
Social insurance (PRSI) contributions
To qualify for Illness Benefit you must meet 2 social insurance (PRSI) conditions:
- You must have at least 104 weeks of PRSI contributions paid since you
first started work
- 39 weeks of PRSI contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax year,
of which 13 must be paid contributions. If you do not have
13 paid contributions in the relevant tax year, then 13 paid contributions
in one of the following tax years can be used instead:
- Either of the 2 tax years before the relevant tax year
- The last complete tax year (before the year in which your claim for Illness Benefit begins)
- The current tax year
26 weeks of PRSI contributions paid in the relevant tax year and 26 weeks of PRSI contributions paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year.
The relevant tax year is the second-last complete tax year before the year in which your claim for Illness Benefit begins. For example:
|If your claim begins in:||The relevant tax year is:|
- Only PRSI contributions paid at class A, E, H and P count towards Illness Benefit.
- If you were getting long-term Jobseeker's 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 were getting Occupational Injury Benefit (OIB) immediately before applying for Illness Benefit you may use the tax year that applied to your OIB claim or the tax year that applies to your Illness Benefit claim, whichever is of greatest benefit to you.
To help you qualify for Illness Benefit, you may use your Irish PRSI contributions and your social insurance contributions from a country covered by EU Regulations or the United Kingdom (UK). Your last social insurance contribution must be paid in Ireland.
How long is Illness Benefit paid?
Illness Benefit is paid for a maximum of:
- 2 years (624 payment days) if you have at least 260 weeks of social
insurance contributions paid since you first started work
- 1 year (312 payment days) if you have between 104 and 259 weeks of social insurance contributions paid since you first started work
If you claim Illness Benefit within 26 weeks of your last IB claim, it is treated as one claim. For example, John was getting IB for 6 weeks. He returned to work for 10 weeks. He got ill again and claimed IB for a further 6 weeks. His IB claims are treated as one claim. This means he has used up 12 weeks of his IB.
If you have used up your entitlement to Illness Benefit and return to work, you must have a minimum of 13 PRSI contributions paid before you can requalify for Illness Benefit. (You must also meet the other qualifying conditions for Illness Benefit.)
If you were getting Illness Benefit for 1 year only, you may requalify with fewer than 13 contributions, if additional contributions bring your total PRSI contributions paid up to 260. (For example, if you had 250 contributions when your Illness Benefit expired, you could work and pay 10 contributions to requalify.)
Before your payment is due to stop, you will be contacted by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) telling you when your payment will stop and giving you information on your options, for example:
- If you are ill and likely to be permanently incapable of work and satisfy the PRSI conditions, you may get Invalidity Pension
- If you do not get Invalidity Pension and you have a disability that is expected to last for a year or more, you may get a Disability Allowance
- If you do not qualify for any other payments and your income is too low to meet your needs, you may get a Supplementary Welfare Allowance
- If your Illness Benefit is ending because you are turning 66, you may get a State Pension. You should apply 3 months before your 66th birthday.
A review of your entitlement to Illness Benefit
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 their opinion on whether you are fit for work. You must attend for a medical assessment when asked, or your Illness 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 getting 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.
Work and Illness Benefit
You cannot work while you are getting Illness Benefit.
If you are getting Illness Benefit for at least 6 months, you can apply for Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB).
The PCB scheme allows you to return to work (if you have a reduced capacity to work) and continue to get a social welfare payment. A Medical Assessor (who is a doctor employed by the Department of Social Protection) will assess the restriction on your capacity for work.
The rate of PCB paid is based on this assessment.
You cannot take up work until you have written approval to do so from the Department.
You must get written approval from the Illness Benefit section of the DSP before you take part in any training or educational course or voluntary work.
Illness Benefit and other social welfare payment
Sometimes you can get Illness Benefit at the same time as another social welfare payment. For example, you may get help under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme including the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, if you meet the qualifying conditions.
The social welfare payment that may be paid with Illness Benefit are:
|Blind Pension||Blind Pension and Illness Benefit can be paid at the same time, if you meet the qualifying conditions for both.|
|Carer's Allowance||Illness Benefit and Half-rate Carer's Allowance can be paid at the
same time, if you meet the qualifying conditions for both.
If you are getting an increase in your Illness Benefit for an adult dependant, your adult dependant can get a Half-rate Carer's Allowance if they meet the qualifying conditions.
|Disablement Benefit||Disablement Benefit and Illness can be paid at the same time, if you meet the qualifying conditions for both and your Disablement Benefit payment does not include an Incapacity Supplement.|
|Domiciliary Care Allowance/Carer's Support Grant||Domiciliary Care Allowance and the Carer's Support Grant can be paid with Illness Benefit.|
|Working Family Payment (WFP) and Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD)||If you are getting Working Family Payment (WFP) and become ill, you can continue to get WFP with Illness Benefit for up to 36 days (6 weeks). Back to Work Family Dividend can continue to be paid with Illness Benefit for 36 days (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/Benefit 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 get a reduced rate of Illness Benefit (so that both payments together give you the maximum rate of Illness Benefit that you are entitled to).|
|Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA)||BSCFA and Illness Benefit can be paid at the same time, if you meet the qualifying conditions for both.|
Rate of Illness Benefit
Your Illness Benefit rate will depend on your average weekly earnings in the relevant tax year.
Average weekly earnings are your gross earnings (without deductions) in the relevant tax year divided by the actual number of weeks worked in that year.
Usually, no payment is made for the first 3 days of illness.
Weekly Illness Benefit payment in 2022:
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate||Increase for an adult dependant|
|€300 or more||€208||€138|
|€220 - €299.99||€162.90||€89.30|
|€150 - €219.99||€134.20||€89.30|
|less than €150||€93.30||€89.30|
Spouses, partners and children
Taxation of Illness Benefit
Illness Benefit, both the personal rate and Increase for a Qualified Adult is taxable. Any increases for child dependants is not taxed.
Illness Benefit is paid directly to you without any tax deducted. It is taxed by reducing your tax credits and rate band. Whether you are employed or unemployed, Revenue will take account of the amount of Illness Benefit paid to you when they adjust your tax credits or review the tax of your spouse or civil partner.
Transfer from Carer's Benefit or Carer’s Allowance
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.
How to apply for Illness Benefit
You must apply for Illness Benefit within 6 weeks of becoming ill.
If you don't apply within 6 weeks you may lose some of your payment. If there is a good reason for a delay in applying, your payment may be backdated.
Paper application form
You must get an Illness Benefit claim form (IB1) and a medical certificate called a ‘Certificate of incapacity for work’ from your family doctor (GP). You fill in the IB1 form and freepost it to the Department of Social Protection - see 'Freepost' address below.
Your GP can provide one medical certificate to cover the duration of your illness. Some GPs can complete the medical certificate online. If your GP cannot send it online, you will get a paper medical certificate which you must fill in with your personal details and freepost it with your IB1 form to the Department.
You do not pay for the ‘Certificate of incapacity for work’ as the Department pays the doctor an agreed fee. However, you may have to pay for the doctor to examine you.
Hospital certs: if you are or have been an in-patient in a hospital, you should ask a hospital doctor to give you a pro forma letter which you can bring to your GP who then gives you the claim form (IB1) and medical certificate (Certificate of incapacity for work) with no charge. If you’re still in hospital, a family member can bring the pro forma letter to your GP on your behalf.
You can get more information about applying for Illness Benefit.
Completed claim forms (IB1) and medical certificates (Certificate of incapacity for work) should be sent by Freepost to: Social Welfare Services, P.O. Box 1650, Dublin 1.
If you think you have been wrongly refused Illness Benefit, you can appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. You should appeal within 21 days of getting the decision.