Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Questions (101)

Pearse Doherty


101. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the way she can put a cap on illness benefit of 12 months in cases when there is ongoing treatment such as chemotherapy involved. [11380/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The purpose of illness benefit is to provide income support - during relatively short spells of incapacity or illness - for people of working age who are unable to work due to illness and who satisfy certain social insurance conditions. In relation to the duration for which illness benefit is payable, an OECD review entitled “Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers” noted that paying illness or sickness benefit without a time limitation was very unusual across the OECD, and pointed to the risk that people in such circumstances would never return to the labour market. Against that background, the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2008 provided that entitlement to illness benefit would be limited to two years (or 624 days) duration for claims arising after the 5 January, 2009. However, a person who has paid between 104 and 259 contributions at an appropriate class, since entering employment, is entitled to receive payment of Illness Benefit for a maximum of one year (or 312 days) in any one period of interruption of employment.

I should point out that people who are unable to work long-term because of a disability or a medical condition, and who have exhausted entitlement to this short-term payment, may apply for continued income support through the Invalidity Pension or Disability Allowance schemes. Should they not qualify for either of these schemes they have also recourse to apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.