Voluntary work and social welfare payments
Voluntary work is a good way to keep active, learn new skills and get involved in your local community. You may do some unpaid work as a volunteer and keep your social welfare payment. However, you must continue to meet all the conditions attached to your payment.
Your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office or the section paying your social welfare payment will usually decide whether you can keep your social welfare payment and work as a volunteer.
Usually, you get a disability payment because you cannot work. If you are getting Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension you must get permission to work as a volunteer. You must apply to the section that pays your social welfare payment before starting any voluntary work.
You can work as a volunteer while you are getting Invalidity Pension or Illness Benefit and it is not necessary to apply for the Partial Capacity Benefit scheme.
If you are getting Invalidity Pension you cannot do more than 19.5 hours of voluntary work per week. If you are getting Illness Benefit or Disability Allowance, there is no limit on the number of hours per week you can work unpaid as a volunteer.
To qualify for a carer’s payment you must be providing full-time care. If you are getting Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit, you can do a maximum of 18.5 hours per week of voluntary work. Before you start working as a volunteer, you must get permission from the Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit section in the Department of Social Protection.
To get Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit you must be available and looking for work. If you want to do voluntary work, you must first get permission from a Deciding Officer at your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. You must continue to satisfy the conditions of your jobseeker’s payment.
A number of factors are taken into account by a Deciding Officer in determining whether the work involved is voluntary, these include:
- The aims and standing of the voluntary organisation (they can be national or local voluntary groups)
- The type of work involved
- The weekly number of hours worked.
Examples of unpaid voluntary work a jobseeker may do include assisting youth clubs, care groups, sports groups, and local residents associations.
If you want to do voluntary work and continue to get Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit, you must apply under the voluntary work option before you start any voluntary work. To apply, fill in application form (VW1)(pdf), which is available from your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
Other social welfare payments
If you are getting one of the payments listed below, there are no restrictions on the number of hours or type of unpaid work you may do. In addition, you don’t need prior permission to do voluntary work.
- State Pension (Contributory)
- State Pension (Non-Contributory)
- State Pension (Transition)
- Widow’s/Widower’s/Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension
- Widow’s/Widower’s/Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
- Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
- Blind Pension
- One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
- Farm Assist
- Maternity Benefit
- Paternity Benefit
- Adoptive Benefit
- Health and Safety Benefit