Self-employed people can become unemployed if their business has to close
down. It may also be the case, though you continue to be self-employed the
amount of work you are getting has reduced so much that it no longer provides
you with a sufficient income.
If you find yourself unemployed or you are getting less work you may qualify
for a social welfare payment. You do not need to de-register
as self-employed to get a social welfare payment.
If you do not qualify for a social welfare payment you may be eligible to
sign on for unemployment credits or pay voluntary contributions. Unemployment credits and voluntary
contributions can help you to qualify for a social insurance payment in the
The website selfemployedsupports.ie has
information on the services and entitlements available.
Self-employed people pay Class S PRSI. Class S PRSI only covers you for
certain social welfare payments. It does not cover you for
However, if you worked as an employee in the last 4 years, you may have paid
Class A PRSI and should apply to your Social Welfare Local Office for Jobseeker’s Benefit. Your
Social Welfare Local Office will check their records to find out whether you
have enough Class A contributions to get Jobseeker’s Benefit.
If you get Jobseeker’s Benefit you may continue to do some work. However,
you must have lost at least one day of employment and as a result of this loss
be unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7 days. Your earnings must also have
been reduced because of the loss of employment.
For example, if you are engaged under a contract for service to work (on a
self-employed basis) for 3 days per week and unemployed for the remainder of
the week, you may qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit. Jobseeker’s
Benefit is taxable.
If you do not qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit you may get
Jobseeker’s Allowance. When you apply for Jobseeker’s Benefit you will be
asked if you want to be assessed for Jobseeker’s Allowance if your claim for
Jobseeker’s Benefit is unsuccessful.
To get Jobseeker’s Allowance you must be:
If you are self-employed, you may be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance
depending on your earnings from your business. You do not need to close your
business or stop working as self-employed for you to get Jobseeker’s
Allowance. You will get Jobseeker’s Allowance if your income is below a
Income from self-employment and the means test
The earnings from your business will be assessed in the means test for
Jobseeker’s Allowance. The assessment must reflect the income you may
reasonably be expected to get from your business over the next 12 months.
Income for the last 12 months will be taken as a guide but allowing for any
factors which it is known will vary. You should be prepared to discuss these
factors when you are assessed for Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Earnings are assessed as gross income less work related expenses over 12
months. Your expected annual earnings from self-employment is divided by 52 to
find your weekly means from self-employment.
Any ‘drawings’ you take from the business is not an allowable expense.
If your ‘drawings’ from the business are greater than the level of income
calculated, the ‘drawings’ are assessed as cash income.
There is no exhaustive list of all expenses allowed because expenses vary
with the nature and extent of the self-employment. However the following are
the main allowable expenses in most cases:
- Materials (supplies costs)
- Motor running costs (portion applicable to business)
- Depreciation of machinery or equipment
- Insurance relating to the business
- Telephone (portion applicable to business)
- Lighting and heating (for business and not domestic use)
- Bank charges
- Van leasing
- Labour costs
- Pension plan
- Any other costs associated with running the business
- Household running costs are not allowed as deductions against business
- Class S PRSI contributions (where paid or payable) (Note if payable but
not being paid, a separate report should be made by the Social Welfare
Investigator on this aspect.)
To prove the level of income from your business you must give your receipts
and payments (documentation showing money coming in and out of your business)
or audited accounts to the person dealing with your application in your Social
Welfare Local Office.
When you apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA)
Usually, you will be asked for your receipts and payments or audited accounts
for the current and previous year. For example, if you apply for Jobseeker's
Allowance in April 2013 you will be asked for your receipts and payments from
January to April 2013 and for 2012. However, in certain cases you may be
required to show audited accounts for the last two or more years. Find out more
about signing on for a jobseeker’s
You may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance while you are waiting to
be assessed for a jobseeker’s payment or if you don’t qualify for a
Supplementary Welfare Allowance
Welfare Allowance provides a basic weekly allowance to eligible people who
have little or no income. If your weekly income is below the Supplementary
Welfare Allowance rate for your family size, a payment may be made to bring
your income up to the appropriate Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate.
You cannot get Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you are working more than
30 hours per week.
If you have claimed a jobseeker’s payment but it has not yet been paid and
you have no other income, you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance
while you are awaiting payment.