Disability payments and work
If you are getting certain disability payments you may be allowed to work or attend training. People getting Illness Benefit and Invalidity Pension cannot work (except for unpaid voluntary work). They must transfer to the Partial Capacity Benefit scheme if they wish to work.
If you are getting a means-tested payment, your income from work will be assessed in the means test. However, some of your income from work is not assessed.
The Department of Social Protection (DSP) has produced a Benefit of Work Estimator tool on welfare.ie for people getting Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension or Illness Benefit. This can help you to assess the financial consequences of taking up work or claiming Partial Capacity Benefit.
Employment and disability payments
Social assistance (means-tested) payments: Disability Allowance and Blind Pension are means-tested disability payments. If you start work, you must notify the DSP and provide proof of your earnings (a pay slip, your contract of employment or a letter from your employer). You do not need to have been getting your payment for a minimum period of time before you can take up work. You may keep your Disability Allowance or Blind Pension if your income is below a certain level.
If you leave your new job, you should contact the DSP and your Disability Allowance will be quickly re-instated at the appropriate rate.
Income from work
To qualify for a means-tested payment your income from various sources is examined to see whether it is under a certain level. Some earnings from work are not taken into account in the assessment of your means and do not affect your payment. For Disability Allowance and Blind Pension, earnings of up to €120 from work (either as an employee or as a self-employed person) are not taken into account at all in the assessment of means. (The means assessed are your gross earnings less PRSI, any pension contributions and any union dues. You cannot deduct income tax or income levies.)
If you earn more than €120 per week from work, 50% of your earnings between €120 and €350 are not taken into account in the Disability Allowance or Blind Pension means test.
Disability Allowance: all earnings from work over €350 are assessed as income and your entitlement to Disability Allowance will be reduced in line with the appropriate reduced rates of payment for Disability Allowance. If you have no other means, the maximum amount you can earn is €437.50 and still keep an entitlement to the minimum personal payment of €3 (since 27 March 2019). If you are getting payments for a qualified adult or qualified children your means from work are deducted from the family rate that applies to you.
Blind Pension: all earnings from work over €350 are assessed as income and your entitlement to Blind Pension will be reduced in line with the appropriate reduced rates of payment for Blind Pension. If you have no other means, the maximum amount you can earn is €442.60 and still keep an entitlement to the minimum personal payment of €3 (since 27 March 2019).
There is no restriction on the number of hours you can work.
Social insurance payments: Invalidity Pension and Illness Benefit are social insurance (PRSI-based) payments. You cannot work while you are getting these payments (with the exception of voluntary unpaid work).
If you have been getting Invalidity Pension or Illness Benefit (for at least 6 months) you can apply for Partial Capacity Benefit, if you have a reduced capacity to work. The work does not have to be rehabilitative. You may have to pay income tax on your total income. Exemptions for rehabilitative work are no longer available.
Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme and rehabilitative work
Injury Benefit is one of the benefits available under the Occupational Injuries Scheme. If you are getting Injury Benefit you can do light voluntary work. You can also do part-time work which is part of a treatment or charitable in character (provided you do not earn more than €50 a week) without permission. However, if you wish to do other rehabilitative work or a training course you must get written permission from the DSP (called an exemption) before starting. Exemptions allowing a person to work are not normally granted within the first 26 weeks of Injury Benefit.
Incapacity Supplement is paid to people who are getting Disablement Pension and who do not qualify for any other disability payments. You can work provided you do not earn more than €33 a week on average. However, if you wish to do other rehabilitative work or a training course you must get written permission from the DSP before starting. Initial requests for an exemption to do training courses are automatically granted but subsequent requests are referred to a DSP medical advisor. If you wish to take part in a Community Employment Scheme, you cannot retain your Incapacity Supplement but you can retain your Disablement Benefit.
People getting Disablement Pension (without another payment) can work (full- or part-time) and do not need permission from the Department.
Employment schemes and other payments
People getting Disability Allowance can qualify for the Rural Social Scheme (if they are actively farming or fishing).
People getting Illness Benefit, Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance, and Blind Pension can qualify for Community Employment.
People getting Disability Allowance and Blind Pension can qualify for Working Family Payment (WFP) if they meet the criteria. People getting Invalidity Pension and Illness Benefit cannot work and therefore cannot qualify for WFP. People getting Partial Capacity Benefit do not qualify for WFP.
If you work while getting Disability Allowance or Blind Pension you can retain any extra benefits you were getting. However, the amount of Rent Supplement you get may be affected by your increased income.
In general, you can retain any extra benefits you were getting when you take part in an employment scheme.
You can read about Rent Supplement and how additional income from work or taking part in an employment scheme may affect it in our document on Rent Supplement and changes to your circumstances.
Keeping entitlement to Free Travel
Since 6 April 2017, under the Make Work Pay initiative, if you move from a long-term disability payment (see list below) to a job, you can keep your entitlement to Free Travel for a period of 5 years, provided you have registered for a Public Services Card.
- Disability Allowance
- Invalidity Pension
- Partial Capacity Benefit (from Invalidity Pension)
- Disablement Benefit paid along with Incapacity Supplement
- Transfer from Disability Allowance or Invalidity Pension to a Community Employment, SOLAS or Back to Work scheme.
FET training courses
If you are getting Disability Allowance or Blind Pension and take up a place on a FET training course you receive a training allowance at the same rate as your social welfare payment. Your social welfare payment is suspended when you are on the training course. You can return to your social welfare payment when you leave the training course.
If you were getting Invalidity Pension or Illness Benefit, and take up a place on a FET training course you will continue to get your full social welfare payment including any increases you get for your dependents. You do not get a training allowance or a training bonus. You must always apply for prior written permission from DSP before you can take up a training course.
You can read more in our document on training allowances.
You retain any extra benefits that you had before taking up the course. You can read about how taking part in a training course may affect your Rent Supplement in our document on Rent Supplement and changes to your circumstances.