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Illness Benefit for COVID-19

Watch the below video for our summary

Illness Benefit Infographic

The enhanced Illness Benefit payment for COVID-19 for a single person is €350 per week. It is paid from the first day of medical certification (no waiting days).

Enhanced Illness Benefit -– FAQS

Detailed information on Illness Benefit is available at Citizens Information

Last Reviewed: 1 July

How much is the enhanced Illness Benefit payment?

The enhanced Illness Benefit payment for COVID-19 for a single person is €350 per week. It is paid from the first day of medical certification (no waiting days).

How long will I get the enhanced Illness Benefit?

If you need to self-isolate because you may have COVID-19, it is paid for a maximum of 2 weeks. It can be extended, but you will need to re-apply.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, it is paid for a maximum of 10 weeks. If your medical certificate is for fewer than 10 weeks, you will be paid for the duration of the medical certificate.

How will I be paid the Illness Benefit?

You will be paid directly to your account in a financial institution. Alternatively, you can arrange to have your payment made to your employer if they continue to pay your wages.

I am a cancer patient on active treatment and I am cocooning. Do I qualify for the enhanced Illness Benefit?

You will not receive the COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit if you are cocooning. However, you can apply for the normal Illness Benefit payment of up to €203 per week.

I am a cancer patient/survivor and I am concerned about working during COVID-19

Everyone’s risk is different – it depends on your cancer type, your treatment, your age and your general health. If you’re worried, the best thing to do is ask your cancer doctor or oncology nurses who know your medical history.

Health authorities have recommended that extremely medically vulnerable patients should cocoon to help protect themselves from infection as they are deemed to be at very high risk. You can find information on cocooning by clicking here.

As a cancer patient in work, if you are concerned about exposure to COVID-19, phone your GP or treating oncologist for advice before attending work.

Inform your manager or HR Department that you are seeking medical advice before attending work and that you may be “at-risk”. Request compassionate work arrangements such as working from home, paid compassionate leave, re-arrangement of annual leave or paid time off to be worked back at a later date. Maintain good communication with your employer. If you cannot work from home and need to return to the workplace, make sure to practice social distancing and wash your hands regularly and properly.

Unless you have been advised to self-isolate on the instruction of a doctor or the HSE due to exposure to COVID-19, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you  will not qualify for the enhanced Illness Benefit payment for Covid-19. If you have been advised to cocoon and cannot work, you can apply for the normal Illness Benefit payment of up to €203 per week.

What if I need to care for someone affected by COVID-19?

Many employers can, and do, agree flexible arrangements with staff who need to take short periods of time off to care for another person. These include; arranging for employees to work from home, to change shifts, to re-arrange parental leave or to bring forward annual leave entitlements.

When it is not possible to make appropriate compassionate leave arrangements with your employer, you may be able to use the following types of statutory leave:

- Force Majeure Leave

Workers are entitled to be paid Force Majeure Leave when they are urgently required to care for an immediate family member who is affected by an illness, including an actual or probable case of COVID-19.

An immediate family member means a child, spouse, brother, sister, parent or grandparent or a person in a relationship of domestic dependence with the worker.

Force Majeure Leave is limited to a total of 3 days in a 12 month period or 5 days in a 36 month period. In the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19, it is expected that employers, will if possible, allow workers to take the full 5 days in one block, as required.

- Parental Leave

Parents are entitled, with 6 weeks notice, to take up to 22 weeks of unpaid parental leave to care for each child up to 12 years old (16 years old for children with a disability). Employers are free to waive notice periods for parental leave.

- Parents Leave

Parents are also entitled, with 6 weeks notice, to take parents leave of 2 weeks for each child under 1 year of age born on or after 1st November 2019.

Parents taking Parents Leave are eligible to apply for Parents Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Information on the scheme can be found at www.gov.ie and applications can be made online at www.mywelfare.ie or by post. Employers are free to waive notice periods for parents leave.

What if my employer does not top up the Illness Benefit payment?

Workers whose employers do not top-up the Illness Benefit payment and still face financial distress, can apply for additional emergency income support. This support is called a Supplementary Welfare Allowance and is based on a means test.

Representatives of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are based in Intreo centres or social welfare offices and are responsible for processing the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

If you require immediate support and cannot attend an Intreo Centre, phone 1890 800 024 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

How will I cope if my mortgage payments and other expenses are not covered by the Illness Benefit?

Banks and financial institutions have agreed to adopt a flexible approach with regard to mortgage and other loan payments during the COVID-19 crisis, including offering payment breaks to qualifying customers. In the first instance, you should contact your bank and explain your position to them.

Advisors from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) may also be able to assist.

Workers, in receipt of Illness Benefit payment who still face financial distress because their employer fails to pay sick pay beyond the level paid by the State, can apply for additional emergency income support in the form of Supplementary Welfare Allowance. This is based on a means test and an examination of expenditure by the person making the application.

Representatives of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are based in Intreo centres or social welfare offices and are responsible for processing the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

People who require immediate support can phone 1890 800 024 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

What do I need when applying for Social Welfare Payments?

Depending on the type of payment you apply for, you may need the following:

  • PPS Numbers for yourself, your spouse and your children
  • Proof of where you live e.g. bank statement, bill
  • Proof of identity e.g. passport, driving licence, work permit
  • Evidence of any income you, your spouse and children have
  • Documents to show your income and financial situation e.g. End of Year Statements, bank statements etc

What if I can’t collect my social welfare payment because I’m self-isolating?

If you usually collect your payment at a post office, but cannot due to self-isolation, a nominated person (Temporary Agent) can be nominated to collect the payment on your behalf.

When collecting the payment, a Temporary Agent must show the welfare recipient’s public service card as well as their own valid photo I.D. e.g. passport, driving licence or public service card.

To nominate a Temporary Agent, the welfare recipient must complete a form, which is available here and from the Post Office.

You can also arrange to have your payment paid into a bank account.

Am I entitled to any other benefits?

As a cancer patient, you may be entitled to Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you are sick and do not qualify for any other payments. This also applies if you have little or no income and cannot provide for you and your family.

This payment is a basic weekly allowance and is means tested. It helps to tide people over for emergencies and difficult times. It can also be paid if your main social welfare payment does not cover your ongoing needs. You may get help with certain special needs like rent or mortgage interest payments or for urgent or exceptional needs. The allowance will only be paid out if you are in severe financial difficulty.

If you have claimed for a social welfare benefit or pension but it has not yet been paid, and you have no other income, you may qualify for the allowance while waiting for the payment.

Representatives of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are based in Intreo centres or social welfare offices and are responsible for processing the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

If you require immediate support and cannot attend an Intreo Centre, phone 1890 800 024 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

Illness Benefit Infographic
Illness Benefit Infographic
Illness Benefit Infographic for those diagnosed with Covid-19 coronavirus
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line

If you or someone in your life is undergoing cancer treatment and are concerned about the coronavirus, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Cancer Nurseline 1800 200 700 or through our online form.