Social welfare payments
If you’ve finished school and are 18 years-old or over, unemployment and lack of money to get by can be a scary prospect. Understanding the social welfare system can be useful.
You’ve to wait three months after finishing school before you can claim social welfare payments.
Come September, if you’re unemployed or working part-time and in need of financial support, you may be able to make a claim.
Money worries can be stressful and finding a solution can seem complicated, especially when it comes to social welfare.
Unemployed? Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance
There are two types of general unemployment benefit outlined below. When you’re under 25-years-old a few things are taken into account when working out what you might be eligible for.
Jobseeker’s Benefit applies to people who have built up social insurance contributions (PRSI) by working and paying tax.
Generally this payment is for people who have lost their job, and had been earning a certain amount of money.
This won’t apply if you’ve just finished school or college. But if you’ve worked in the past, make an appointment at your local social welfare office and they can tell you what you’re entitled to.
Find your local office on www.welfare.ie.
The amount you receive depends on your previous employment.
This is the type of assistance you’re more likely to qualify for while looking for work but in need of support in the mean time.
- If you’re 18-21-years-old, the maximum amount per week is €100 (if you have no children)
- If you’re 22-24-years-old, the maximum amount per week is €144 (again, if you have no kids)
- If you’re 25 or over, the maximum amount is €188.
From 14 January 2014 there will be changes to jobseeker’s allowance for new claimants:
- If you’re 18-24-years-old, the maximum amount per week will be €100 (if you have no children)
- If you’re 25 the maximum amount will be €144 (again, with no children)
- If you’re 26 or over, the maximum amount will be €188.
There are a few criteria that you have to meet to qualify for jobseeker’s allowance:
- You must be aged between 18-66 years-old
- You must be unemployed (part-time work and internships are possible, more on this below)
- You must be capable of work
- You must be available for and actively seeking work
- You must satisfy the conditions of a means test.
What does means test mean?
A means test is an evaluation of your financial situation to see if you’re eligible to benefits.
If you’re under 25-years-old and living at home, your parents’ income is also taken into consideration.
So depending on your circumstances, it might be harder to qualify, or you might get less money. Find out more about this on www.welfare.ie.
How do I apply?
To apply for unemployment benefit make an appointment at your local social welfare office.
Google the office in your area or check www.welfare.ie. You can download the Jobseeker’s Benefit/Allowance form and fill it in in advance, making things a bit easier.
There’s a few important things you’ll need to bring:
- Your PPS number – if you don’t know it, you can get it by calling Lo Call 1890 927999. It should also be on any payslips or offical letters you have
- Proof of identity – your passport, birth certificate or Garda ID
- Proof of address – a recent utility bill in your name, a phone bill, a bank statement, or any government letter addressed to you
- You might need proof you’ve been applying for jobs, like print outs of emails or copies of any rejection letters
- If you’ve just finished studying, you might need a letter from college to say you’re no longer a student.
It’s not possible to apply over the phone or online!
How long will it take?
It depends on the situation, but usually a few weeks at least. You should try to apply as soon as possible if you’re in need of financial support. If you’re seriously stuck, you can apply for the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme at your local health centre.
How do I collect the money?
You can pick it up each week from your local post office. You’ll need photographic ID with you, and they can to ask to see this, anytime.
If you get a part-time or casual job (up to and including three days per week), you may still be paid some of your Jobseeker’s Allowance. That said, you must show that you are trying to get full-time employment.
There’s a few rules around the number of hours you work and the sort of job, just to make sure you’re still available for full-time work if it comes up. The best thing is to check in with your welfare office as soon as possible.
All these internships?
If you’ve graduated from college and are faced with the old “can’t get a job without experience, can’t get experience without a job” dilemma, there is an internship programme called JobBridge.
Other benefits and options
There are other social welfare benefits available that you might also be entitled to, like rent or fuel allowance if you’re living out of home.
Again, if you’re under 25-years-old, it can be a bit harder to qualify, and it’s not unusual to be asked why you’re not living at home, so be prepared to answer that question.
When you apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance, you’ll be asked all about what sort of work you want to do.
You might be asked to come in at some point to talk to their career advisor about next steps for finding a job. Take advantage of this. There are back-to-work programmes, as well as grants for going back into education that may be of interest.
Specific advice for you
You can contact citizensinformation.ie on 0761 074000 for advice tailored to your individual situation.
Knowledge really is power in this situation, so check out all the options available to you.