For Written Answer on : 31/05/2022
Question Number(s): 451 Question Reference(s): 27359/22
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the supports that are available to frontline workers who are unable to work due to long-Covid; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
My Department provides a suite of income supports for those who are unable to work due to an illness or disability. Provisional outturn for illness, disability and caring related payments was €4.8 billion in 2021.
It is important to note that entitlement to these supports is generally not contingent on the nature of the illness or disability but on the extent to which a particular illness or disability impairs or restricts a person’s capacity to work.
Long-Covid, like all other conditions that impair or restrict the person’s capacity to work, is covered by the range of disability-related payments provided by my department, which are not condition-specific.
In March 2020, under the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 (No. 1) and subsequent regulations, the Government provided for entitlement to Illness Benefit for persons who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 or who are a probable source of infection with Covid-19.
The rate of this enhanced Illness Benefit is higher than the normal maximum personal rate of standard Illness Benefit, for a limited period. This is to allow the person to comply with medical advice and self-isolate while having their income protected.
Enhanced Illness Benefit is payable for 7 days where a person is isolating as a probable source of infection of Covid-19 and up to 10 weeks where a person has been diagnosed with Covid-19.
Enhanced Illness Benefit is a temporary measure that has been extended until the end of June. €106 million was spend on the enhanced Illness Benefit in 2021.
In a case where a person continues to be ill beyond 10 weeks, standard Illness Benefit may be paid for an extended period but for a maximum of two years, based on the person’s continued eligibility. Additional payments may be made in respect of a qualified adult and qualifying children.
Where a person becomes permanently incapable of work due to their illness, they can apply for long-term payments. Disability Allowance is a means-tested payment and Invalidity Pension is based on a person’s social insurance record. Secondary benefits may also be payable if people meet the eligibility criteria.
Apart from these income supports, my Department also provides means-tested supports under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme for people who are ill but who do not qualify for Illness Benefit. My Department may also make an exceptional needs payment to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet from their weekly income.
My Department keeps the range of income supports under review in order to make sure they meet their objectives. Any changes to the current system would need to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.