You may get Illness
Benefit from the Department of Social Protection if you cannot work because
you are sick or ill. You must be aged under 66, covered by the appropriate
class of social
insurance (PRSI) and satisfy the PRSI conditions.
Illness Benefit is not linked to your employer's policy on pay for sick
leave (your employer can decide their own policy on sick pay and sick leave).
More information is available in our document about sick
leave and employment.
Whether your employer pays you or not while you are out sick from work, you
should claim Illness Benefit from the first day of your illness – see
“Rules” below. If you get sick pay from work, you should ask your employer
what administrative arrangements are in place while you are claiming Illness
If your income is too low to meet your needs, while you are waiting for a
decision on your claim for Illness Benefit, you may be entitled to basic
Supplementary Welfare Allowance, which is a means-tested payment.
You must apply for Illness Benefit within 7 days of becoming ill. No payment
is made for the first 6 days of illness which are known as waiting days. (Note
that this was extended from 3 to 6 days from 6 January 2014.) The only time
that the 6 waiting days are not applied is if you were getting certain other
social welfare payments within 3 days of the start of your illness.
Whether you qualify for payment or not, you should always submit a claim for
Illness Benefit when you are certified unfit for work. You may be
entitled to PRSI credited contributions for each week you are ill and these
could help you qualify for future social welfare payments.
Social insurance (PRSI) contributions
To qualify for payment of Illness Benefit you must satisfy the following
- You must have at least 104 weeks PRSI contributions paid since you first
- 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
- Either of the two 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:
claim begins in:
relevant tax year is:
- Only PRSI contributions paid at class A, E, H and P count towards Illness
- If you were getting long-term Jobseeker's Allowance, Pre-Retirement
Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit
immediately before applying for Illness Benefit, you do not need to have 13
- 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 more beneficial.
To help you qualify for Illness Benefit you may combine your Irish PRSI
contributions with social
insurance contributions from a country covered by EU Regulations (and the
Channel Islands and the Isle of Man which are covered under a bilateral
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 reckonable
social insurance contributions* paid since you first started work
- 1 year (312 payment days) if you have between 104 and 259 weeks
reckonable social insurance contributions* paid since you first started
*Reckonable social insurance contributions paid in Ireland, EU countries,
Channel Islands and the Isle of Man can be combined for this purpose.
Before your payment is due to stop you will be contacted by the Department
of Social Protection telling you when payment will stop and giving you further
information on options available:
- If you are ill, likely to be permanently incapable of work and satisfy
the PRSI conditions you may qualify for Invalidity Pension
- If you do not qualify for Invalidity Pension and you have a disability
that is expected to last for a year or more you may qualify for a
- If you do not qualify for any other payments and your income is too low
to meet your needs you may qualify for a basic Supplementary
- If your Illness Benefit is ending because you are turning 66 you may be
eligible for a State
Pension. You should apply 3 months before your 66th birthday.
If you return to work you must have a minimum of 13 reckonable PRSI
contributions paid before you may requalify for Illness Benefit. (All other
qualifying conditions must also be satisfied.)
If you were on 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. (So, for example, if you had 250 contributions
when your IB expired you could work and pay 10 contributions to requalify.)
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.
Work and Illness Benefit
You cannot work while you are getting Illness Benefit (you can do voluntary
work in some cases). If you have a current Illness Benefit claim and have been
getting Illness Benefit for at least 6 months you can apply for Partial
Capacity Benefit (PCB). PCB is a scheme which allows you to return to work
(if you have a reduced capacity to work) and continue to receive a social
welfare payment. A Medical Assessor (who is a doctor employed by the Department
of Social Protection (DSP)) will assess the restriction on your capacity for
work, and the personal rate of PCB paid is based on this assessment. You cannot
take up work until you have written approval to do so from the DSP.
You cannot undertake a training or educational course or do voluntary work
without prior, written approval from the Department of Social Protection. You
must apply to the Illness Benefit section for this approval. From 1 January
2014 new participants on SOLAS training courses can retain Illness Benefit but
cannot get a training allowance or training bonus at the same time.
Illness Benefit and other social welfare payments
||If you are getting Blind Pension you may also get Illness Benefit if
you are ill and unable to work and you satisfy the PRSI conditions.
||If you are getting Illness Benefit and you satisfy the conditions for
Carer's Allowance, you may get half the personal rate of Carer's
Allowance along with your Illness Benefit payment.
It may also be possible for you to receive an Increase for a
Qualified Adult for someone on your Illness Benefit claim while they
receive a half-rate Carer's Allowance for caring for you or someone
||If you are getting Disablement Benefit you may also get Illness
Benefit if you are ill, unable to work and satisfy the PRSI conditions
(provided that the Disablement Benefit payment does not include an
increase for Incapacity Supplement).
|Domiciliary Care Allowance/Carer's Support Grant
||Illness Benefit is payable if you are getting Domiciliary Care
Allowance and /or the Carer's Support Grant (formerly Respite Care
|Family Income Supplement (FIS) and Back to Work Family
||If you are receiving Family Income Supplement (FIS) and become ill,
payment of FIS may continue with Illness Benefit for up to 36 days (6
weeks). Similarly if you become ill while you are getting Back
to Work Family Dividend, payment of BTWFD may continue 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
||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 qualify
for a reduced rate of Illness Benefit (so that the combined amount of
both payments is not greater than the rate of IB to which you are
Payment of Illness Benefit abroad
You can continue to get Illness Benefit if you go to live in another country
covered by EU Regulations. You must tell the Department of
Social Protection in advance (otherwise you may lose payment or your payment
may be delayed).You must continue to send medical certificates from your doctor
abroad to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and you should also keep
the Department informed of any change in your circumstances. You may be called
for medical assessment while living abroad (this is arranged by the DSP with
the Social Security Office of the country you are in). You must attend for a
medical assessment when asked, or your Illness Benefit will be suspended.
If you go to live in another country covered by EU Regulations and become
ill you may apply for Illness Benefit from Ireland if you paid your last
insurance contribution in Ireland or you were getting Jobseeker’s Benefit in
Ireland before you went abroad.
Illness Benefit is not paid in countries not covered by EU
Regulations. However, if you go to a country not covered by EU
Regulations to get approved treatment your payment may resume when you
You can read detailed FAQs from
the DSP on claiming Illness Benefit abroad.
Reviews of 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 an opinion on whether or not you are fit for work. You must
attend for a medical assessment when asked, or your benefit will be
If your Illness Benefit is stopped, you have a right to appeal the decision
- see ‘Where to apply’ below. If you are receiving 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.
Usually no payment is made for the first 6 days of illness and no payment is
made for any Sunday during your illness. Note that this was extended from 3 to
6 days from 6 January 2014.
Illness Benefit rates are graduated according to your average weekly
earnings in the relevant tax year. Average weekly earnings are calculated
by dividing the total reckonable gross earnings (without deductions) in the
relevant tax year by the actual number of weeks worked in that year.
Weekly payment in 2016 for claims started in 2009 or
|Average weekly earnings
||Personal rate, €
|€300 or more
|€220 - €299.99
|€150 - €219.99
|less than €150
Weekly payment in 2016 for claims started in 2008 or
|Average weekly earnings
||Personal rate, €
||Qualified adult rate,
|€150 or more
|€125 - €149.99
|€80 - €124.99
|less than €80
Illness Benefit can be paid directly into your bank, building society
account. or to an account in a credit union which offers the facility for
Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT).
Spouses, partners and children
You can get an increase in your payment for an adult
dependant or child
dependant if you meet certain conditions.
Taxation of Illness Benefit
Illness Benefit, both the personal rate and Increase for a Qualified Adult,
(excluding increases for child dependants) is considered to be income for tax
purposes and it is taxable from the first day of payment.
Illness Benefit is paid directly to you without any deduction of income tax.
If you are employed, your employer will take your Illness Benefit into account
purposes. If you are unemployed, Revenue will take account of the amount of
Illness Benefit paid to you when they adjust your tax credits or review the tax
affairs of your spouse or civil partner. Contact Revenue for more
How to apply
You should apply for Illness Benefit within 7 days of becoming ill. A delay
of more than 7 days may cause you to lose some of your payment. If there is a
good reason for a delay in applying, your payment may be backdated.
You can get a first social welfare medical certificate (known as MC1), which
includes an application form for Illness Benefit, from your family doctor (GP)
or hospital doctor. The reason you can only get this form from a doctor is
because a doctor must complete the medical certificate part of the form.
You must see your doctor and send in an intermediate medical certificate
(known as MC 2) each week for as long as you are ill, unless you are told
You must get a final medical certificate from your doctor before you go back
Note that in all cases social welfare medical certificates
(MC1 and MC2) are not available online or from DSP offices. They are only
available from doctors who are on the Department's panel of medical
You are not required to pay for a social welfare medical certificate as the
Department pays the doctor an agreed fee. However, you may have to pay for the
If you wish to make a backdated claim for Illness Benefit you need to supply
a First Medical Certificate (MC1) stating the date the illness began, a letter
from your doctor giving details of your illness and treatment and a current MC2
If you have any difficulties completing the forms, staff in your local
social welfare office will be happy to help you. Any questions you
have about Illness Benefit should be made directly to your social welfare
local office or you can call the Illness Benefit enquiries telephone line -
see 'Where to apply' below.
If you think you have been wrongly refused Illness Benefit you can ask for
the decision to be reviewed. You can also appeal the decision to
the Social Welfare Appeals Office, either straightaway or after the review.
You must request a review or appeal a decision within 21 days of being informed
of the decision.
Where to apply
Department of Social Protection
P.O. Box 1650
Tel:(01) 704 3300
Locall:1890 928 400
You can email the Illness Benefit section using the secure enquiry form.