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What Illness Benefit is

Illness Benefit is a scheme to support you if you cannot work in the short term because you're sick or ill.

Illness Benefit 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.

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

How to qualify

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

Age

You must be under the age of 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 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 instead:

  • 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

or

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.

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 an IB1 Form (application form for Illness Benefit and Injury Benefit) and accompanying ‘Certificate of Incapacity for Work’ stocks of which are held by doctors
  • claim Illness Benefit from the first day of your illness
  • attend your doctor and submit 'Certificate of Incapacity for Work’ as required
  • notify the department when you are fit to return to work. Your last Certificate of Incapacity for Work’ should be marked as Final by your doctor before you go back to work. If it is not, you should notify the department at:

Illness Benefit Section

Phone:
Address:
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, PO Box 1650, Dublin 1

illnessbenefit@welfare.ie

Rates of payment

Usually you do not receive payment for the first 6 days of illness, or any Sunday during your illness.

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.

Illness Benefit rates are paid at four different rates. The department works out which rate you are paid you based on your average weekly earnings in the relevant tax year. The department works 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.

  • 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 you have only worked one week in that year and earned €232.36 for that week, your reckonable weekly earnings would be €232.36.

    Average weekly earnings Personal rate (€) Qualified adult rate (€)
    €300 or more 203.00 134.70
    €220 - €299.99 159.00 87.20
    €150 - €219.99 131.00 87.20
    less than €150 91.10 87.20

Apply

  • claims for Injury Benefit are normally made on form IB1 (application form for Illness Benefit and Injury Benefit) and accompanying ‘Certificate of Incapacity for Work' which are available from your doctor
  • a ‘Certificate of Incapacity for Work’ can be provided in paper form (purple coloured certificate) or, in some practices, this can be completed and submitted online by the doctor. Where the doctor has completed an ‘Online Certificate of Incapacity for Work’, the doctor will provide the customer with a receipt for your own/employer’s records

You must get a doctor to examine you. You may have to pay for this exam, but you can get the 'Certificate of Incapacity for Work’ for free as the department pays for it.

Illness Benefit 'Certificate of Incapacity for Work’ are only available from your doctor.

The claim form and ‘Certificate of Incapacity for Work’ (if ‘Online Certificate of Incapacity for Work’ has not been submitted by a doctor) should be submitted to:

Illness Benefit Section

Phone:
Address:
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, PO Box 1650, Dublin 1

Operational Guidelines