With all the changes over the last two years, it’s difficult to keep up to date on current entitlements. Ciara O’Gorman, Development Manager with South Munster Citizens Information Service briefly describes the main payments for people affected by Covid-19 for people of working age (between the ages of 18 and 66).
For more in-depth information, or advice on your specific circumstances Ciara advises you to telephone or email your local CIC where staff will be happy to help you.
IF YOU HAVE NO WORK, OR LESS WORK THAN BEFORE
Your employer may have closed their business and sent you home. Where this is temporary, this is called a temporary lay-off. If it is permanent, you may be made redundant.
EMPLOYMENT WAGE SUBSIDY SCHEME
Your employer may have continued to pay you under the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). EWSS is administered by Revenue through your employer’s payroll. The EWSS will end for most businesses on 30 April 2022. For businesses directly impacted by the public health restrictions introduced in December 2021, the EWSS will end on 31 May 2022. If you were getting a Working Family Payment, this will continue while you are being paid under the EWSS.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT PAYMENT
The Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is for employees and self-employed people living in Ireland who lost their employment due to Covid-19. The PUP payment is closed to new applicants from 22 January 2022. If you have lost your job, you can apply for Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) instead of PUP. JB is based on your PRSI contributions. JA is means tested. You apply for both payments at the same time (on the same application form) and the Department decides which one you qualify for.
If the number of days you work has decreased, you may be entitled to Short Time Work Support. You must be unemployed for 3 days per week (excluding Sunday) to qualify for this. You can get this even if your employer is paying you through the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).
If your hours have been reduced but you continue to work for more than 3 days per week (for example, you have been asked to work 5 mornings per week), you may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. You can call your local CIC to discuss your exact circumstances and possible entitlements.
If you are parenting alone you may be entitled to One-Parent Family Payment. The other parent of your child may have reduced the maintenance they pay to support your child. You should notify your local Intreo center in this case. You can get an increase to your payment for up to 12 weeks. After this, your payment will be reassessed. You should also check if you qualify for Working Family Payment if you have dependent children and your hours or pay have been reduced.
If you are pregnant and getting PUP or being paid through the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), you can still apply for Maternity Benefit, Parent’s Benefit and Paternity Benefit. The time you spend on PUP or being paid through TWSS or EWSS is treated the same as a period of employment. If you are receiving PUP and have not returned to work before you are due to start your maternity leave, you should ask your GP to complete form MB3 (pdf).
ASKING FOR A REVIEW OF YOUR PAYMENT
If you work and also get a social welfare payment, and your hours or income from work have decreased, you can ask for your payment to be reassessed. You can continue to get both Working Family Payment and One-Parent Family Payment with your PUP.
IF YOU CANNOT WORK BECAUSE YOU ARE SICK
If you are ill with Covid-19, you can get a special form of Enhanced Illness Benefit for Covid-19 absences. You may also get it if you are told by a doctor or the HSE to self-isolate or restrict movements due to being a probable source of infection. You must be in employment or self-employment to qualify. If you do not qualify for Illness Benefit for Covid-19 absences, you may be able to receive Supplementary Welfare Allowance instead. Enhanced Illness Benefit for Covid-19 absences is paid from the first day of sickness. If you cannot attend work due to illness that is not Covid-19, you can apply for standard Illness Benefit.
If your income is a mix of social welfare and pay from employment, you can continue to get your usual social welfare payment if you become sick or have to self-isolate. If your income is less than the rate of enhanced Illness Benefit you would get, you can apply to have your income topped up to this rate. This top-up will not affect the other payments. If you work in the civil and public sector, you do not need to apply for Illness Benefit for Covid-19 absences as separate leave arrangements are in place.
IF YOU CANNOT WORK BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO LOOK AFTER CHILDREN
If you left work to care for a child or another member of your family, you can get information and advice on the social welfare payments that may be available to you by contacting your local CIC.
IF YOU CANNOT PAY YOUR RENT
If you are having difficulty paying rent, you may be able to claim:
• Rent Supplement or
• Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
Rent Supplement is a short-term income support to people in the private rented sector who are finding it difficult to pay their rent. Rent Supplement means assessments have changed to allow for the higher rates of payments that claimants get with PUP.
You may be able to get HAP from your local authority if you are assessed as having a housing need. You have to apply to your local authority’s housing section to be included on the housing list. It is based on your means and is paid directly to your private landlord.
GOING BACK TO WORK
If you are returning to work you must close your Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) claim. You can do this on MyWelfare.ie. If you are returning to work and your hours have been reduced, you may be entitled to keep or claim another social welfare payment:
• Short Time Work Support if you will work 3 days or fewer
• Working Family Payment if you have dependent children and will work more than 38 hours per fortnight
• Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you work more than 3 days (for example, you work 5 mornings) and are earning less than the basic social welfare rate for your family size
• Rent Supplement based on your means
All of the above, except for Short Time Work Support, depend on how much you earn from your employment.
Another point to note is that if you are getting the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or you are being paid under the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, when you apply for social insurance payments (for example, Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and the State Pension (Contributory), you will be treated as if you have been paying insurance contributions based on the social insurance class you were paying before you stopped working.
For anyone needing information, advice or who has an advocacy issue they can call a member of the local Citizens Information team in North Cork. Phone: Fermoy 0818 07 7970 Monday and Tuesday from 9-5pm, Wednesday and Thursday from 9-1pm; Mallow 0818 07 8000 Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 9-5pm and Tuesday from 9-12.30pm; Mitchelstown 0818 07 8030 – calls being answered by Mallow.
Alternatively you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie for further information