Partial Capacity Benefit
What is Partial Capacity Benefit?
Partial Capacity Benefit is a social welfare scheme which allows you to return to work or self-employment (if you have reduced capacity to work) and continue to get a payment from the Department of Social Protection (DSP).
If you have been getting Illness Benefit (for a minimum of 6 months) or Invalidity Pension and wish to return to work, you may qualify for Partial Capacity Benefit if your capacity for work is reduced by your medical condition.
You will qualify for Partial Capacity Benefit if your restriction on capacity for work is assessed as moderate, severe, or profound. You will not qualify if it is assessed as mild.
You can check the financial consequences of starting work and claiming Partial Capacity Benefit by using the Benefit of Work Estimator tool on welfare.ie.
The work you do while on Partial Capacity Benefit does not have to be for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes.
If you are getting Illness Benefit and want to do volunteer work, you must apply directly to the Partial Capacity Benefit section for permission (see ‘Where to apply for Partial Capacity Benefit’ below).
If you are getting the Invalidity Pension and want to do volunteer work, you must apply directly to the Invalidity Pension section for permission.
If you are on Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension and want to do a FET (formerly FÁS) training course, you do not go onto Partial Capacity Benefit. Instead, you apply to the Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension section, as appropriate.
You cannot get Partial Capacity Benefit and take part in a Community Employment Scheme.
How to qualify for Partial Capacity Benefit
To qualify for Partial Capacity Benefit, you need to be getting either:
You may not work until you get written approval to do so from the Department of Social Protection. You should also get your doctor’s approval before taking up employment.
You can work as many hours as you wish, as there is no restriction on earnings. You can also be self-employed while getting Partial Capacity Benefit.
How long can I get Partial Capacity Benefit?
If you are coming from Invalidity Pension, your Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) will continue for up to 3 years (156 weeks), or until you turn 66. You can apply for PCB again at the end of the 3 years. You will be reassessed to find out if you qualify.
If you are coming from Illness Benefit, your PCB payment will continue to the end of your entitlement to Illness Benefit.
State Pension (Contributory) and Partial Capacity Benefit
If you are getting Partial Capacity Benefit and you will be 66 at your next birthday, you can look at your options for a State Pension.
Coming from Invalidity Pension
If you are coming from Invalidity Pension, your Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) will stop when you are 66. You will transfer to a State Pension (Contributory).
If you want to defer your State Pension, you must contact the Department of Social Protection (DSP) before you reach 66. You will not get PCB during the deferral period.
Coming from Illness Benefit
If you are coming from Illness Benefit, you may continue to work after you turn 66 and get PCB until the date your claim is due to end.
The PCB section will send you a letter 13 weeks before you turn 66. If you want to continue getting PCB and defer your State Pension (Contributory), you must sign and return the declaration to the PCB section. If you do not return the declaration, the DSP will close your PCB claim when you reach 66.
If you are unable to work due to illness
If you are getting Partial Capacity Benefit and you are unable to work for a period of time due to illness, you should contact the Partial Capacity Section – see ‘Where to apply’ below.
For short periods of illness (up to 8 weeks at a time), you can stay on Partial Capacity Benefit, but your weekly rate can be increased to the full Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension personal rate.
For longer periods of illness (more than 8 weeks), DSP will reassess your Partial Capacity Benefit claim and you may return to your Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension. If you become able for work again, you can contact DSP about going back onto Partial Capacity Benefit.
Partial Capacity Benefit rates
Partial Capacity Benefit is made up of a personal rate for you and may include increases for your qualified adult and qualified child(ren). The personal rate of payment is based on the assessment of your restriction on capacity for work, whether you were in receipt of Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension and your current rate of payment.
% of your personal rate of Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension payment
Increases for qualified children and adults continue to be paid at the same rate. The conditions for payment of increases are the same as those that applied to your Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension claim.
Maximum rates of Partial Capacity Benefit in 2024
Person previously getting Illness Benefit at the maximum personal rate
Person aged under 66 and previously getting Invalidity Pension at the maximum personal rate
Partial Capacity Benefit will be paid directly by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) into your Irish bank or building society account (not a mortgage account). It is taxable.
You can also keep the Household Benefits Package but it will be means-tested after the first 2 years and annually after that. The means test has a weekly income limit. This limit is the maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) for your circumstances (this includes any dependents you may have) plus €120. Your weekly income limit is then compared to your weekly means in a means test.
If you were getting Invalidity Pension and a Living Alone Allowance (LAA) with your Invalidity Pension (or you start to live alone while you are getting PCB), your rate of PCB will be calculated on the basis of your Invalidity Pension and your LAA. So, for example, if your restriction on capacity for work is severe, your PCB payment will be 75% of your IP and LAA payment.
How to apply for Partial Capacity Benefit
To apply, fill in a Partial Capacity Benefit application form (pdf). The Partial Capacity Benefit Section can post you an application form - see 'Where to apply' below for their contact details.
A Medical Assessor will assess the restriction on your capacity for work. This may require you to attend a medical assessment. You should include all appropriate medical evidence with your application. If you qualify for Partial Capacity Benefit, you are not required to send in medical certificates.
When to apply
You must apply for Partial Capacity Benefit within 21 days of starting work.
You can apply for Partial Capacity Benefit before you get a job. You must start work within 13 weeks of making your application.
Partial Capacity Benefit is not paid to people over 66. You should apply for a State Pension at least 3 months before your 66th birthday.
You can appeal a decision on your claim for Partial Capacity Benefit to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. You should appeal within 21 days of getting the decision.