Persons who cease to be covered by compulsory social insurance, including those who were previously self-employed, may opt to protect their existing long-term social insurance pension entitlements by becoming insured on a voluntary basis and paying voluntary contributions. Payment of voluntary contributions does not provide social insurance cover for short term benefits such as illness benefit.
Persons who wish to become a voluntary contributor must satisfy certain contribution conditions and must apply to become a voluntary contributor within 12 months after the end of the contribution year in which they were last compulsorily insured.
Those who were previously self-employed where that self-employment has terminated due to illness or disability may access social welfare support by establishing entitlement to assistance-based payments such as disability allowance, subject to satisfying the qualifying conditions for the scheme. In general, their means will take account of the level of earnings in the past 12 months in determining their expected income for the following year and, in the current climate, account is taken of the downward trend in the economy. As in the case of a non-self-employed claimant for disability allowance, the means of husband/wife, civil partner or co-habitant will be taken into account in deciding on entitlement to a payment.