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.
To qualify for Illness Benefit, you must meet conditions related to:
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:
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.
You must also:
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.
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|
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: