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How Illness Benefit works

Illness Benefit is a scheme to support you if you cannot work in the short term because you're sick or ill. This is not linked to your employer’s policy on pay for sick leave. Whether your employer pays you or not while you are out sick from work, you should claim Illness Benefit within 6 weeks of becoming ill.

You can decide to have your Illness Benefit paid into your bank, building society, credit union or post office account. It can also be paid by cheque in certain circumstances or directly to your employer only into a to bank, building society, credit union or post office account. If you get sick pay from work, you should ask your employer whether you should nominate payment to them while you are claiming Illness Benefit.

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. This is a weekly payment for people who do not have enough income to meet their basic needs and the needs of their spouse or partner and child or children.

How to qualify

To qualify for Illness Benefit, you must meet conditions related to:


You must be under pensionable age which is currently 66.

Social insurance (PRSI) contributions

You must have at least 104 class A, E, H or P social insurance (PRSI) contributions paid since first starting work, and either one of the following:

  • 39 weeks of social insurance (PRSI) contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax year (the second complete tax year before the year your claim begins) of which 13 must be paid contributions
  • 13 paid contributions in either of the two tax years before the relevant tax year, the last complete tax year, or the current tax year

Example 1: If you make a claim in 2019, the relevant tax year is 2017.

Example 2: If you make a claim in 2020, the relevant tax year is 2018.

Other Conditions

You must also:

  • submit a completed application form and medical certificate
  • claim Illness Benefit from the first day of your illness
  • attend your doctor and submit medical certificates as required
  • Notify the department when you are fit to return to work. Either by your doctor marking your medical certificate as a final medical certificate, by email to ClosemyIBclaim@welfare.ieor by telephone (01) 704 3300, LoCall 1890 92 84 00, If calling from outside the Republic of Ireland please call + 353 1 704 3300

Rates of payment

Usually you do not receive payment for the first six days of illness, or any Sunday during your illness.

Illness Benefit rates are paid at four different rates. We work out which rate we pay you based on your average weekly earnings in the relevant tax year. We work out your average weekly earnings by dividing your total earnings (before tax and some other deductions) in the relevant tax year by the actual number of weeks you have worked.

Depending on your circumstances, some or all of your Illness Benefit payment may be liable to income tax. Tax is not charged on increases paid for any dependent children.

The Department pays Illness Benefit without deducting tax. The Department does, however, notify Revenue of the taxable amount of Illness Benefit to be taken into account for income tax purposes. This means you do not have to do anything for the correct tax to be paid.

Information about the taxation of social welfare payments is available from Revenue and on the Jobs and Pensions page of the Revenue website www.revenue.ie

Social insurance (PRSI) and Universal Social Charge (USC) are not charged on Illness Benefit payments.

Example of average weekly earnings

Reckonable earnings (earnings taken into account) in relevant tax year = €16,800

Number of weeks of work = 35

Average weekly earnings = €480 (€16,800 divided by 35)

If a customer only worked one week in that year and earned €232.36 for that week, their reckonable weekly earnings would be €232.36.


Your GP will give you an Illness Benefit claim form (IB1) along with a social welfare medical certificate of incapacity for work on your first visit.

  • you fill out the IB1 claim form
  • your doctor completes the certificate of incapacity for work medical certificate

Each week

Your last certificate of incapacity for work should be marked as a Final Certificate by your doctor before you go back to work. If it is not, you should notify the department by email at ClosemyIBclaim@welfare.ie or by telephone (01) 704 3300, LoCall 1890 92 84 00, If calling from outside the Republic of Ireland please call + 353 1 704 3300

You must get a doctor to examine you. You may have to pay for this exam, but you can get the social welfare medical certificate for free as the department pays for it.

Illness Benefit medical certificates of incapacity for work are only available from your doctor, not online or from department offices.


You should send completed claim forms (IB1) and medical certificates of incapacity for work to:

Illness Benefit Section
Address: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Dublin 1, Ireland, PO Box 1650
Telephone numbers: (01)7043300

Operational Guidelines

Operational Guidelines Illness Benefit