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February 2, 2024

Can You Get Illness Benefit when Self-Employed in Ireland?

If you’re self-employed, you're not eligible for Illness Benefit in Ireland. But you do have other options available. Read on for more details and explore your options.

Aine Kavanagh

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Aine Kavanagh

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If you’re self-employed, you cannot apply for Illness Benefit in Ireland because you don’t fulfil the PRSI requirements to qualify for it. 

But wait.

Even though you don’t qualify for Illness Benefit, you could still apply for alternative benefits when you're sick long-term and need time off.

We’ll discuss why the Irish government doesn’t offer Illness Benefit for self-employed individuals and explore alternative benefits you can apply for.

Further Reading

  • Learn everything you need to know about Illness Benefit in Ireland, from eligibility criteria to the application process, in our comprehensive guide.

Can Self-Employed Individuals Claim Illness Benefit in Ireland?

Self-employed people pay their PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance ) contributions under class S, which automatically makes them ineligible to qualify for Illness Benefit. 

According to Irish law, only individuals who pay PRSI contributions under class A, E, H, or P can apply for Illness Benefit payments.

As of February 2024, the Irish government has no plans to make Illness Benefit accessible to self-employed people. 

Now you must be wondering…

Why are self-employed people ineligible for Illness Benefit in Ireland?

Illness Benefit in Ireland is funded by the Social Insurance Fund, which relies on Irish citizens' PRSI contributions. 

As a self-employed person, you contribute to this fund at a rate of 4%, which is 11.05% lower than the combined maximum employer (11.05%) and employee (4%) contribution of 15.05%. 

This difference in contribution rates affects the benefits each group can access. 

Essentially, self-employed people don’t qualify for certain benefits due to their lower contribution.

However, depending on your situation, you can still access a significant portion of the fund's benefits by applying for alternatives.

5 Alternatives to Illness Benefit for Self-Employed People in Ireland

As a self-employed individual in Ireland, you can apply for the following social welfare payments (if you qualify for them):

1. Disability Allowance

Disability Allowance is a means-tested weekly payment for Irish citizens aged 16 to 66. They should have a disability that lasts at least one year and restricts them from working.

Disability Allowance payment rates from January 2024:

  • Personal rate: €232

  • Increase for adult dependant: €154

  • Increase for child dependant (under 12): €46 (full rate), €23 (half rate)

  • Increase for child dependant (above 12): €54 (full rate), €27 (half rate)

2. Invalidity Pension

The Invalidity Pension is a weekly payment for people who are permanently incapable of working due to a severe illness or disability.

You must fulfil certain medical and social insurance contribution conditions to qualify for the Invalidity Pension. (Check out our Invalidity Pension guide to find out what those are.) 

Invalidity Pension payment rates from January 2024:

  • Personal rate: €237.50

  • Increase for adult dependant: €169.70

  • Increase for child dependant (under 12): €46 (full rate), €23 (half rate)

  • Increase for child dependant (above 12): €54 (full rate), €27 (half rate)

3. Partial Capacity Benefit

Partial Capacity Benefit is a scheme that allows people on Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension payments to return to work (in a reduced capacity) while receiving a partial payment.

Eligibility for Partial Capacity Benefit depends on the Department of Social Protection’s assessment of your ‘restriction on capacity for work’. You will qualify for this benefit if your incapacity is assessed as moderate, severe, or profound (no medical certificate needed).

Partial Capacity Benefit payment rates from January 2024: 

  • Moderate:

    • If you received Illness Benefit: €116 

    • If you received the Invalidity Pension: €118.75

  • Severe:

    • If you received Illness Benefit: €174

    • If you received the Invalidity Pension: €178.15

  • Profound: 

    • If you received Illness Benefit: €232

    • If you received the Invalidity Pension: €237.50

4. Long-Term Illness Scheme

The Long-Term Illness Scheme in Ireland is a health support program that provides medications and medical supplies to you for free if you get diagnosed with specific long-term illnesses.

Some of these illnesses include:

  • Intellectual disability

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Epilepsy

  • Acute leukaemia, etc. 

5. Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA)

Supplementary Welfare Allowance is a weekly means-tested payment for Irish citizens who don’t have enough income to meet their or their family's basic needs.

SWA payment rates from January 2024:

  • People aged 25 and above and those aged 18 to 24 living independently:

    • Personal rate: €230

    • Increase for adult dependant: €154

    • Increase for child dependant (under 12): €46

    • Increase for child dependant (12 and above): €54

  • People aged 18 to 24 who aren’t living independently

    • Personal rate: €141.70

    • Increase for adult dependant: €141.70

2 FAQs on Illness Benefit for Self-Employed

Here are answers to some common queries about Illness Benefit for self-employed in Ireland: 

1. What Was the Enhanced Illness Benefit?

The Enhanced Illness Benefit in Ireland was a temporary benefit introduced by the Irish government to provide income support to people who couldn't work due to COVID-19.

Both employed and self-employed people diagnosed with COVID-19 could apply for it. 

The government discontinued this benefit in September 2022.

2. What’s the Difference between Illness Benefit and the Invalidity Pension?

The main difference between the two payments lies in their duration, purpose, and eligibility.

Illness Benefit offers temporary income support to people who cannot work due to a short-term sickness or injury. Its eligibility is also restricted to employees (class A) and those who contribute under classes E, H, and P, excluding Class S PRSI.

Meanwhile, the Invalidity Pension provides long-term income support to those with a permanent incapacity for full-time or part-time work because of a disability. 

Anyone who fulfils the qualification criteria can claim Ireland’s Invalidity Pension, regardless of their employment status. 

Scale and Manage Your Health Insurance Benefits with Kota

Even if you're ineligible for the Irish Illness Benefit, the Department of Social Protection (DSP) provides various social welfare benefits to support you when you’re sick.

But while these payments are helpful, they may be insufficient to cover your medical expenses and additional costs

For that, you need Kota!

Kota helps contractors and business owners set up comprehensive health insurance packages from leading providers within minutes. 

It also lets you:

  • Take charge of your coverage and investment choices.

  • Craft an insurance benefits package that suits your needs.

  • Save time and money by eliminating brokers and avoiding extra fees.

Join Kota and manage your health insurance effortlessly with our all-in-one digital mobile app.


Aine Kavanagh

Article written by

Aine Kavanagh

👋🏻 Hi I'm Aine, Head of Customer Success at Kota. Whether you're a Kota customer, a Kota user, or you're just browsing, I hope to help educate and empower those who want to know more about owning their own benefits, and building financial autonomy 📚

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