Overview: Benefits and work
Many people work part-time before taking up full-time employment. If you are returning to work you may have questions about how your benefits will be affected. When you take up work you can, in some cases, retain part of your payment, you may be able to keep your extra benefits or you may qualify for additional supports.
You can use the Benefit of Work Ready Reckoner from the Department of Social Protection to help you assess the financial consequences of taking up full-time work.
If you are working part-time, up to 3 days a week, the documents Jobseeker's Benefit and work and Jobseeker's Allowance and work explain how your payment will be affected. If you find part-time work (less than 24 hours a week) and you have been getting Jobseeker's Allowance for at least 390 days (15 months) you may be eligible for the Part-time Job Incentive Scheme. You may have to pay tax on your social welfare income when you take up work. Read about taxation of social welfare payments.
If you are returning to work full-time (over 19 hours a week) and you have children you may be able to claim Family Income Supplement (FIS). FIS is a weekly tax-free payment for people on low pay.
If you are returning to work you may qualify for the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) which aims to help families more from social welfare into employment. This scheme became fully operational in May 2015 but applications have been accepted from Monday 5 January 2015. The BTWFD and Family Income Supplement (FIS) can be paid together and the BTWFD is not taken into account in the means test for FIS.
Work and other payments
If you are getting One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) you are allowed to earn a certain amount each week and keep your payment. You can claim FIS while you are getting an OFP. If you are parenting alone and no longer qualify for the One-Parent Family Payment you may qualify for a Jobseeker's Transitional payment. You can work part-time while you are getting this payment.
If you are getting a means-tested disability payment, such as Disability Allowance or Blind Pension, you may earn a certain amount from work without it affecting your payment. If you are getting Illness Benefit (for at least 6 months) or Invalidity Pension you can apply for Partial Capacity Benefit and keep part of your payment, depending on how restricted your capacity for work is.
If you are getting a carer's payment you can work up to 15 hours a week.
Keeping your extra benefits when you return to work
You must be getting a social welfare payment to qualify for most extra benefits such as Fuel Allowance and the Household Benefits Package. If you are working part-time and claiming a social welfare payment you may be able to keep them.
If you are returning to work through an employment scheme such as Community Employment you can generally retain any extra benefits you have but you may have to pay tax and PRSI on your income from the scheme (the Universal Social Charge (USC) does not apply to employment schemes). Read the individual documents on the schemes to find out exactly how your extra benefits may be affected.
The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance helps you meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for children going to school. In general you must be gettiing a social welfare payment to qualify. People getting Family Income Supplement can qualify for the Allowance.
If you are returning to full-time work (over 30 hours a week) you may be able to keep your Rent Supplement if you have been accepted as being in need of accommodation under the Rental Accommodation Scheme by your local authority and you have been unemployed or not in full-time employment for at least 12 months before you start work. However, you will be reassessed for Rent Supplement and if you do qualify for Rent Supplement you may get a different rate. You can read more about Rent Supplement and changes to your circumstances.
If you are unemployed and you are returning to full-time or part-time work, you may be able to keep your medical card for 3 years. You must have been getting certain social welfare payments for 12 months or more or have been on an employment support scheme or educational opportunity scheme. If you take up full-time employment you can retain your medical card for 3 years from the date you start work. If you take up part-time employment the 3-year period starts from the date your income exceeds the relevant medical card guideline.
The After-School Child Care Scheme (ASCC) supports low-income unemployed people to return to work. The scheme provides subsidised after-school childcare places to people with children of primary school age who find employment, increase the number of days they work or take up a place on an employment support scheme.
You can get more information on childcare options and affordable child care from citizensinformation.ie.