The information below provides an overview of some frequently asked questions in relation to applying to the Department of Social Protection for social welfare entitlements when you are unemployed.
What do I do when I become unemployed?
If you lose your job, are made redundant, or laid off you may qualify for a social welfare payment, either Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance.
To get either payment, you must apply at your Social Welfare Local Office. When you apply, you declare you are unemployed and actively seeking work. This is also known as 'signing on'. New applicants for are jobseeker's payment are issued with the new Public Services Card.
- Attend your local Social Welfare Local Office or INTREO centre. Some offices have appointment times for new claims. You could ring to check before calling in. Details of locations are available on www.welfare.ie
- Bring two forms of identification with you:
- photo ID (passport, driver’s licence)
- proof of address (ESB bill, phone bill, etc.).
- Also bring other relevant documents such as a P45 and your Redundancy Notice. If you haven't got these, go in anyway. You can supply them later when you get them.
- Once your claim is registered, you will first be assessed for Job Seekers Benefit. There may be a waiting period due to a backlog of claims.
Note: If there is a delay, and you have no other income (i.e. no spouse/partner working), you can go to the Community Welfare Officer at your local Health Centre to apply for a Supplementary Welfare Allowance payment, which is means tested.
If you are paying a mortgage or rent, you may be entitled to Mortgage Interest Supplement or Rent Supplement. Again, this is paid through the Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre.
If you have been made redundant, see here for more information.
How do I qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit payment?
You must have 2 years PRSI paid: i.e. 104 weeks PRSI contributions since you first started work.
You must ALSO have:
At least 39 weeks PRSI paid and/or credited in the relevant tax year. (For claims made in 2015, the relevant tax year is 2013)
26 weeks PRSI paid in the relevant year and 26 weeks PRSI in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year.
For every week that you work you get a 'paid' contribution. If you don't have 13 paid contributions in the relevant tax year, you must have the 13 contributions paid in any one of the following years:
- The 2 tax years before the relevant tax year (2012 and 2011)
- The last complete tax year (2014) or
- The current tax year (2015)
For every week you claim a Social Welfare payment you get a 'credited' contribution. You must also be looking for full-time employment, as well as being capable of and available to work, in order to claim Jobseeker's Benefit. Full details are available here.
Made Redundant - Will the amount of my redundancy payment affect my rate of benefit?
It depends on your age:
If you are 55 years or over there is no disqualification from receiving JB irrespective of the amount of the redundancy payment.
If you are under 55, and have received a redundancy payment in excess €50,000, you will be disqualified from receiving JB for a period of up to 9 weeks from the last date of employment for the following periods:
- €50,000.00 - €55,000 - 1 Week
- €55,000.01 - €60,000 - 2 Weeks
- €60,000.01 - €65,000 - 3 Weeks
- €65,000.01 - €70,000 - 4 Weeks
- €70,000.01 - €75,000 - 5 Weeks
- €75,000.01 - €80,000 - 6 Weeks
- €80,000.01 - €85,000 - 7 Weeks
- €85,000.01 - €90,000 - 8 Weeks
- €90,000.01 and over - 9 Weeks
Remember, if you take voluntary redundancy, you may be disqualified for leaving your job voluntarily even if the amount you get is below the figures above. For more details about redundancy and its effect on JB, see this link.
How much will I get paid on Jobseeker's?
The amount you will get depends on which payment you are entitled to, your age, and how much your earnings were in the relevant year.
Weekly Jobseeker's Benefit payment in 2015:
|Average weekly earnings
||Qualified adult rate
|Less than €150
|€150 - €219.99
|€220 - €299.99
|€300 or more
If you are eligible for a personal rate of Jobseekers Benefit, you may also be eligible to get an increase for an adult dependant and child dependant. Your average weekly earnings do not affect the amount you get for a child dependent.
What happens if I don’t have enough PRSI contributions paid to qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit?
You can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is a means tested payment. Details of how means are assessed are available here, but basically, any other income you have is assessed, as well as the value of a second property, savings, shares, etc.. Jobseekers Allowance is also subject to certain age restrictions:
Weekly Jobseeker's Allowance Payment
The current maximum personal rate of Jobseeker's Allowance is:
€188 per week for those aged 26 or over
€144 per week for those aged 25
€100 per week for those aged 18-24
If married, or living with a partner, you get a personal rate and may claim an increase for a qualified adult dependant and qualified child dependant. Any weekly earnings do not affect the amount you get for a child dependent but will affect the qualified adult rate.
There is no limit to how long you can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. Even if you don't qualify for a payment, you should continue to sign to get 'credits' so that your future SW entitlements are preserved, including SW pensions. This is very important.
How often will I have to sign on for my unemployment payment?
Initially, you may be asked to sign weekly. After the first payment is made, you will generally be asked to sign on once every four weeks if you live within 10km of your local office or once every three months if you live more than 10km from the office.
You may be entitled to a tax refund. If your spouse/partner is in employment over 19 hours a week, and you have children, you may qualify for Family Income Supplement (FIS).
A Fuel Allowance of €20.00 per week is payable for 32 weeks (from September to May) to those receiving Jobseeker's Allowance for 15 months or more, but you must be living alone or only with a qualified dependant or other eligible adults. A Smokeless Fuel Allowance (€3.90 per week) is payable to those on Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance who satisfy certain conditions.
Payment of these allowances is limited to one per household. Full details of the other supports available are detailed here.
If you are having difficulty keeping up with bills, loans payments, you should contact MABS for advice. See here for a full list of supports for jobseekers.
Is the procedure the same if I am only reducing my hours worked?
Yes. The same form applies to all types of Jobseeker claims (Either download UP1 or UP6 (if you have claimed in past 2 years)). You should also bring a letter from your employer about what days/ hours you will be working in the future. The amount payable for any day of unemployment (Monday to Saturday) is one-sixth of the weekly rate, except for systematic short-time workers (i.e. those reduced to working the same set days each week), when it is one-fifth of the weekly rate.In 'short-time working' cases the total number of days worked and on Jobseeker's Benefit cannot be more than 5 in any working week.
Any three days of unemployment (excluding Sundays) in a period of six consecutive days (called the '3 in 6' rule) form a period of interruption of employment (PIE). Any two PIEs not separated by more than 26 weeks are treated as one PIE, and 'linked' to older claim's qualifying conditions. In other words, the 'old' claim's qualifying conditions apply to the 'new' claim if its within 26 weeks.
If your hours (and income) have been reduced, you should check whether you now come under the earnings threshold for FIS. To download the form click here.
Who pays for Bank Holidays when I am working reduced hours?
Casual or part-time employees must have worked at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks ending on the day before the public holiday to establish a statutory entitlement to pay in respect of a public holiday. Part-time or casual workers are not entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance in respect of paid public holidays.
NOTE: Good Friday is a bank holiday not a public holiday therefore employers are not legally required to pay in respect of that day. If the employer does pay in respect of Good Friday, JA/JB is not payable.
I am self-employed but my income and work has drastically reduced in the past six months. Can I claim Jobseeker’s Allowance?
Self-employed people can become unemployed if their business has to close down. It may also be the case that you continue to be self-employed and 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 future.
The website selfemployedsupports.ie has information on the services and entitlements available for self-employed people.
I need more information for my particular situation. Where can I get it?
This is a link to more specific answers on the www.welfare.ie site. You can also e-mail the department of social protection for more information.
Source: Citizens Information