In general employees (over 16 years of age and under 66) pay related social insurance (PRSI) contributions some of which is used to pay social insurance based social welfare payments.
There are 2 types of social welfare payment; some are based on your PRSI records- your work records- ; they are called contributory payments. Some payments are related to the basis of your residence in Ireland and your means (income); they are called non contributory payments.
If you are a self employed person with earnings of at least €5000 per year you will pay PRSI contributions. These are called S class contributions can be used to qualify for payments for older people, people with disabilities, pregnant women and for Child Benefit. You can get more information on Self Employment and social welfare here http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Self-Employed-Contributions.aspx
You may qualify for some free dental, visual and hearing care under the Treatment Benefit Scheme if you have enough PRSI contributions. You can apply for the scheme through your dentist, optician or hearing specialist who can check if you qualify before you start treatment. You can get more information here http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Treatment-Benefit1.aspx
In order to apply for Social Welfare payments you must present to your local INTREO Centre where you will be assessed by a Deciding Officer of the Department of Social Protection. You can find your local INTREO Centre here http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/List-of-Social-Welfare-Local-and-Branch-Offices-by-County.aspx
If you have lost your job you may be entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance. Jobseekers payments are paid to people on a weekly basis. Those who have lost their job or have lost hours of their job may be eligible. You can get detailed information on these payments here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/unemployed_people/jobseekers_benefit.html http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/unemployed_people/jobseekers_allowance.html
You may qualify for basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance while these payments are being processed or in some cases where you don’t qualify for Jobseekers payments. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/supplementary_welfare_schemes/supplementary_welfare_allow.html .
You can apply for this and other emergency payments with your local Community Welfare Service. In most cases this service can be found in your local INTREO Centre but sometimes in rural areas they may be based out in the Community. You can find the list of Community Welfare services here http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/otheroffice/community-welfare-office-contact.aspx but it is a good idea to call and check before you go to make sure the information is up to date.
Child Benefit is paid to the parents or guardians of children under 16 years of age, or under 18 years of age if the child is in full-time education, Youthreach training or has a disability. If you are working and your child is living here you would normally qualify for Child Benefit. If you are working or on certain contribution based payments and your child is living outside Ireland but within the EU you may qualify for Child Benefit. If you are not working you will need to be habitually resident to claim this payment more of which here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/social_welfare_payments_to_families_and_children/child_benefit.html
Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a weekly tax-free payment which gives extra financial support to employees on low incomes with children. Self employed only people cannot qualify for this payment. You must have at least 1 child who either normally lives with you or is financially supported by you. Alternatively if you have a child who is dependant on you and who lives within the EU, is under 18 or between 18 and 22 and in full time education may also be eligible.
To qualify for FIS, you must work at least 19 hours a week or 38 hours a fortnight and your average weekly family income must be below a certain amount for your family size. You will receive 60% of the difference between your average weekly income and the income limit set for your family size. You can more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/social_welfare_payments_to_families_and_children/family_income_supplement.html
If you are working and become pregnant you may qualify for Maternity Benefit. Maternity Benefit is a contribution based payment paid to women who are on Maternity Leave and who are working within 16 weeks of their due date or are in receipt of certain contribution based payments and have the correct number of contributions to qualify. If you were working in another EU country and you have worked in Ireland and have paid at least one full rate PRSI contribution, you may combine your contributions from that country with your Irish PRSI contributions to help you qualify for Maternity Benefit. You must have paid your most recent PRSI contribution in Ireland to do this. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/social_welfare_payments_to_families_and_children/maternity_benefit.html
If you are working and your wife or partner becomes pregnant you may qualify for Paternity Benefit. It is paid for 2 weeks and is available for any child born or adopted on or after 1 September 2016. You can start paternity leave at any time within the first 6 months following the birth or adoption of your baby. You should apply for the payment 4 weeks before you intend to go on paternity leave (12 weeks if you are self-employed). You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/social_welfare_payments_to_families_and_children/paternity_benefit.html
Illness Benefit is a contribution based payment paid to people who are unable to work due to accident or illness and have enough contributions to qualify. If you were working in another EU country and you have worked in Ireland and have paid at least one full rate PRSI contribution, you may combine your contributions from that country with your Irish PRSI contributions to help you qualify for Illness Benefit. You must have paid your most recent PRSI contribution in Ireland to do this. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/disability_and_illness/disability_benefit.html you can get information on the Habitual Residence Condition below.
Disability Allowance is paid to people who are unable to the work they would normally do as they are ill and either have been or will be unable to work due to this illness for at least one year. You need to be habitually resident and satisfy a means test to qualify. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/disability_and_illness/disability_allowance.html
Invalidity Pension is paid to people who are unable to work as they have a long term illness or disability. To qualify you must have worked for 5 years. You can combine PRSI contributions earned in another EU country to qualify but you will receive a lower rate of payment. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/disability_and_illness/invalidity_pension.html
Domiciliary Care Allowance is a payment for people under 16 years who have a severe disability which means that they need full time care and attention, far more than a healthy child of the same age. To qualify the disabled person must be normally resident in Ireland, live with the person caring for them and the person who cares for them must be habitually resident in Ireland. You can get more information here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/disability_and_illness/domiciliary_care_allowance.html
Carers Allowance is paid to a person who provides full time care and attention to a person with a serious illness or disability who cannot care for themselves or would be at risk if they did not have this care and supervision. To qualify the person applying must be habitually resident and satisfy a means test. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/carers/carers_allowance.html
Carers Benefit is paid to a person who has to leave work to care for a person who needs full time care and attention. It is paid for up to 2 years to a person who has enough PRSI contributions. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/carers/carers_benefit.html
The Carers Support Grant is paid once a year to people who are in receipt of Carers Allowance, Carers Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance. You can use it to pay for respite care for the person you are caring for or for anything you wish. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/carers/respite_care_grant.html
Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a payment to support people who have a long term housing need to pay their rent who are unable to do so themselves. In order to qualify you must be on a Local Authority housing list. If you are accepted on to the scheme you will pay a contribution to your rent based on your income, your Local Authority will pay the balance. You can get more information here http://hap.ie/
HAP has replaced Rent Supplement in most cases now. It was intended for people who have a short term housing need who cannot pay their rent themselves. The scheme still exists in very limited circumstances; you can get more information on it here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/supplementary_welfare_schemes/rent_supplement.html
Social Housing in Ireland is provided by Local Authorities. You can get more information in our housing section. If you become homeless or are at risk of homelessness in Ireland you are the responsibility of the local authority in whose area you have become homeless. You can get more information on this in our housing section.
Habitual residence is a condition which you must satisfy in order to qualify for some non PRSI contribution based social welfare payments. This condition took effect from 1st May 2004 and applies to all applicants regardless of nationality.
When deciding if you are habitually resident, the following five factors are considered:
1. Your main centre of interest, what connects you to Ireland rather than another country
2. The length and continuity of residence in Ireland and in any other country
3. The length and purpose of any absence from Ireland
4. The nature and pattern of your employment
5. Your future intention to live in the Republic of Ireland as it appears from all the circumstances.
Generally if you have been living in Ireland here for some time and are working legally in stable employment you will be considered to be habitually resident unless there is strong evidence to suggest otherwise.
Exceptional Needs Payments (ENP) are payments made to people for essential but unusual situations which they cannot afford to pay for from their own income. This could be for funeral costs or clothing if you are ill. You can get more information on this here http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/supplementary_welfare_schemes/exceptional_needs_payments.html
Urgent Needs Payments (UNP) are paid for food and clothes in emergencies, for instance when your home has been flooded or damaged by fire. You do not need to be habitually resident to qualify for either of these payments but you must satisfy a means test; that is you must prove you need it and that you cannot afford to pay this unexpected cost from your own income. You can get more information on this here http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/SWA---Urgent-Needs-Payments.aspx
If you are refused a social welfare payment, apart from ENP/UNPs, you can appeal this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO). In the case of ENPs and UNPs you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by an officer in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
If you are unhappy with the decision on your social welfare claim you can appeal to this independent agency. You can get more information on how the SWAO works here http://www.socialwelfareappeals.ie/ .
If you would like help to make an appeal or with applying for a payment you can contact your local Citizens Information Office http://centres.citizensinformation.ie/ or Crosscare Housing and Welfare Information on 01 8726775.
This project is co-financed by the European Commission under the European Integration Fund
and is supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Dept of Justice & Equality & Pobal.