It is condition of social welfare benefits that an application is made in the prescribed format.  In some cases, the application must be made within a certain time period.  A person cannot simply rely on his or her entitlement and accrue benefits, pending making the claim.  Where the claim is not made within a certain time limit, there may be disqualification for a particular period.

Prescribed forms of application apply under the regulation.  The Department may accept applications in writing and social welfare officers will assist in relation to the application.  Where a claim is made for one type of payment, the Department officers will generally treat it as a claim for related payments to which the applicant may be entitled.

The 2010 Act provides for the declaration of unemployment by way of electronic communication for the purposes of claiming Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance

In relation to particular types of claims, it may  be necessary to submit certain proofs such as birth certificates, death certificate and other information or proof.  In the case of contribution-based payments, the relevant prescribed social insurance contributions must be available.

There are prescribed periods in which an application must be made for each type of payment.  If the application is made outside that period, then part or all of the pre-claim period made if this allowed.  The rules vary for each type of payment.

In the case of job seekers benefit, jobseeker’s allowance, family income supplement, and the state non-contributory pension, the prescribed time for making the claim is the first date of entitlement and no payment will be made for the pre-claim period.

In case of disability allowance and illness benefit, the claim must be made within seven days of first entitlement.  The claims may only relate to periods commencing  seven days before the claims.

In the case of contributory state pension and  widower’s contributory pension, the claim must be made within three months of entitlement and thereafter. Periods more than 12 months prior to the claim are disallowed.  The claim periods are different for each payment.

The time limits may be extended where there is good reason and certain other ground.  The good reason must apply during the period concerned but even in such cases the extent of backdating is limited generally to 6 months.

Lack of knowledge of the entitlement is not usually regarded as sufficient. If, however, a  person is advised incorrectly by the Department itself, this may be sufficient ground.  In some cases, it may not be reasonable for him to rely on advice and he may be obliged to make further enquiries in which event, there may otherwise  not be good cause.

In certain cases where incorrect advice is given, in the case of certain payments, the claim may be backdated to commencement of entitlement or the date on which incorrect information was given by the Department. A retrospective  claim may also be permitted if a person was unable to make the claim. However, illness and disability per se will not be sufficient.

Backdating may be permitted where the delay is due to circumstances beyond the claimant’s control.  The circumstances must be overriding and the force majeure itself must be the cause of the failure to make the application.  The application must be made upon expiry of the force majeure.

Backdating may be permitted where a person has financial indebtedness that cannot be financed form  current income and hardship would otherwise arise.

In the case of contributory long-term payments, an additional allowance may be made over and above the limitation on a retrospective claim.  This reflects the entitlement based on social insurance.  However, a proportion of the period prior to 12 months is disallowed.  The percentage paid diminishes, tapers down considerably.

A deciding officer may revise a decision in relation to a payment if it appears the original decision was wrong or if new facts or circumstances emerge or have been brought to his attention.  Where decision is revised due to the original decision having been based on a false statement which was false or misleading to the knowledge of the person making it or by reason of wilful concealment of a material fact, the review takes effect retrospectively.

The original decision may be allowed to stand for the period where the false statement or wilful concealment was not operative.  If the person might reasonably be expected to be aware of the relevant facts, the deciding officer may conclude that he was so aware and decide accordingly. Where by reason of a revised decision, benefits are repayable, the  claimant is legally obliged to repay the sum concerned.

In certain cases, there may be entitlement to two payments simultaneously.  Where two principal income maintenance benefits are payable simultaneously, the (overlapping) regulations generally provide that only one payment is made.  Some benefits of their nature are supplemental, and the so-called overlapping rules do not apply to them.  The regulations provide which payments may be paid together.  In some cases, there is an entitlement to concurrent payments for a limited period or at a reduced amount.

Persons imprisoned are generally disqualified from receiving social insurance and social welfare payments. An absolute disqualification  applies to jobseekers’ allowance, disability and other  means tested benefits while imprisoned or detained in legal custody.  The provision does not apply to persons detained under the criminal law (insanity) act.  It does not apply to imprisonment pending trial where the person is subsequently acquitted, or the charge is withdrawn.

Where a person is disqualified by being in prison, payment or part of the payment may be made to such other persons as the Department permits such as dependent et cetera.


The 2015 Act  provide for a range of consequential amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 arising from the introduction of the Back to Work Family Dividend scheme. References to the Back to Work Family Dividend are made in various general provisions of the Consolidation Act relating to

  • making claims for and paying social welfare payments,
  • the powers of social welfare inspectors to investigate claims for social welfare payments,
  • the powers of deciding officers and appeals officers to make decisions and revised decisions in relation to claims for social welfare payments,
  • overpayments and the recovery of overpayments, and
  • the exemption of social welfare payments for means test purposes.

The 2018 Act provided for the automatic award of benefits by electronic applications where it is to the benefit of the claimant, an increase in the National Training Fund levy, an amendment to the Civil Registration Acts in relation to the term of office of an tArd-Chláraitheoir and his or her Deputy, and an amendment to the Pensions Acts to provide a right of entitlement, in certain circumstances, to spousal pension benefits for same-sex spouses and civil partners who are members of occupational pension schemes

The 2018 Act provided that decisions to award a social welfare benefit or payment which is to the benefit of a claimant can be made by an automated information system. It also provides that decisions which deny entitlement to a benefit or payment must in all cases be made by a Deciding Officer. The date on which this provision comes into force was to be set by Commencement Order.


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