The social welfare system is primarily a contingency-based system, with entitlement based on a, pre-defined contingencies, such as sickness or unemployment. While it can happen that a person may experience more than one contingency at the same time, for example, an unemployed person may become sick, a general principle usually applies whereby even if a person experiences more than one of the pre-defined contingencies at any one time, they can still only receive one of those payments. This principle is common to social security systems across the world.
Under the Irish social welfare system there have been a limited number of exceptions to this general principle. In the past these included the situation whereby a recipient of one parent family payment could, at the same time, receive short-term social insurance benefits such as maternity benefit, unemployment benefit and so forth at half rate if the contingency arose.
As part of the publication of the spending estimates for 2004, a measure was introduced whereby this entitlement to concurrent half-rate payment of a number of benefits is discontinued for new claimants with effect from 19 January 2004. Existing recipients are not affected by this measure for the duration of their claims.