15 Mar 2020

Workers whose employers do not supplement the State Illness Benefit payment

Workers in receipt of the enhanced illness benefit payment who still face financial distress because their employer fails to pay sick pay beyond the level paid by the State, can apply for additional emergency income support, in the form of Supplementary Welfare Allowance (based on a means test).

Applications are usually made in person, normally when a person is no longer confined to their home. People who require immediate support and cannot attend an Intreo Centre can phone 1890 800 024 or 01 2481398 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance

What the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people who do not have enough income to meet their needs and those of their families.

How to qualify

If you have no income, you may be entitled to the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA). If your weekly income is below the Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your family size, a payment may be made to bring your income up to the appropriate Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate.

If you have claimed a social welfare benefit or pension but it has not yet been paid and you have no other income, you may qualify for basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance while you are waiting for your payment. However, the amount paid while you are waiting will be deducted from the arrears of your social welfare payment.

If you have started work, you may qualify for basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance for up to 30 days while you are waiting for your wages.

You will normally qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you satisfy the following conditions:

  • you are living in the State
  • you satisfy the SWA - Means Assessment
  • you have applied for any other benefit or allowance you may be entitled to
  • you have registered for work with your local Intreo Centre if you are of working age
  • you satisfy the habitual residence condition
  • EU/EEA and Swiss migrant workers who have been working in Ireland can access basic SWA and supplements without having habitual residence assessed, provided they have the right to reside in Ireland. However, people from the EU/EEA or Switzerland who move to Ireland in search of employment are subject to the habitual residence test in the normal way while looking for work

You will not normally qualify for basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you are:

  • in full-time work, that is, working for 30 hours or more per week*
  • in full-time education
  • involved in a trade dispute. However, you may claim Supplementary Welfare Allowance for your dependants

*This condition does not apply to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. However, any income they have from work is taken into account in the means test.

Rates of payment

The basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is made up of a personal rate for the applicant and additional amounts for any adult dependant or child dependant(s). A child dependant is a person under the age of 18 who lives with you and depends on you for support. If you have been getting SWA for at least 26 weeks, the age limit is 22 for a child dependant in full-time education or up to the end of the academic year after their 22nd birthday.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance rates from January 2020


You should contact the Community Welfare Services at your local office

An application form is available to download here or from your local office

Claim Form: Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA1)

Claim Form for Supplementary Welfare Allowance/ Exceptional Needs Payment - Download Here

To help process your claim, you should have the following:

  • Personal Public Service (PPS) Numbers for yourself, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your children
  • proof of address
  • proof of residency (where relevant)
  • proof of identity, for example, a Public Services Card (if you have one), a passport, driving licence, work permit, immigration (GNIB) card
  • documents to show your income and financial situation, such as pay slips and bank statements

Operational Guidelines

Operational guidelines describe the processes and procedures that staff in the department follow when carrying out their work.

Operational Guidelines: Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme

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