Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

The closure of businesses, because of Covid-19 , affected thousands of workers in Ireland. To help people who had lost income, the government introduced the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. It has become known as the PUP

No more claims for the PUP will be accepted after July 7th 2021


How Much is the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment ?

  • The Covid-19 PUP was initially €203 a week when it began in March 2020.
  • From the 24th March, it was increased to €350 a week for all applicants.
  • In July 2020 the payment was reduced to €203 for those earning less than €200 per week prior to the pandemic.
  • On Sept 17th 2020 the top €350 PUP flat weekly rate was reduced to €300 . This amount was due to be paid to those who were earning more than €300 per week before the pandemic.
  • On Sept 17th 2020 – those earning between €200 and €300 a week pre-Covid had their payment reduced to €250 a week. This stays the same from Oct 16th.
  • From Oct 16th 2021 a PUP rate of €300 will be paid to those who were previously earning between €300 and €400 a week.
  • Further changes were due to take place in September 2021, November 2021 and Feb 2022 – see the table below for details.


Summary of PUP Rates from Feb 2021 Onwards


PUPWEEKLY RATE
Previous
Weekly Earnings
Feb to 3th SeptFrom Sep 14 to
Nov 15th
From Nov 16th 2021
to 8th Feb 2022
Feb 8th 2022
Under €200€203See Note **JobseekersJobseeekers
€200 to €300€250€203JobseekersJobseeekers
€300 to €400€300€250€203Jobseeekers
Over €400€350€300€250€203

How Long Will the PUP Continue to Be Paid ?

Welfare originally said it would be paid for 6 weeks. Later, they changed this to 12 weeks. Eventually, they said it would be paid for the “duration of the crisis” . It was then extended until the end of March 2021.
On Feb 23rd it was announced that the PUP will be extended again until June 30th 2021.
In June 2021 it was announced that claims from students will no longer be paid after 7th Sept 2021


** The Dept has announced (Sept 1) that the process of moving the people on the €203 PUP rate to a Jobseeker’s payment has now been deferred until 26th October. The department will write to all affected people at the end of September to outline the options available to them.



How to Claim the PUP


No more claims will be accepted after July 7th 2021

Yo can claim online at MyWelfare.ie

You will need a basic Mygovid account to do this. All this needs is a name and email address.

Postal applications are possible – to request a form and apply by post you can email forms@welfare.ie . Or call their hotline 1890 800 024

Paper applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment can also be downloaded here . To be returned to PO BOX 12896, Dublin 1. via Freepost, (you just write “Freepost” on the envelope).


Earnings Assessment

Originally, for employees , the Department looked at your average gross weekly earnings for all of 2019 and the average for January and February of 2020. The highest average figure of the two will be used.

For example, if your average gross weekly earnings in 2019 were €195 and in the first 2 months of 2020 the average was €210, they will use the higher figure of €210.

November 2020 Changes to PUP Earnings Assessment

How previous earnings are assessed was changed from November 2020.
People who only started employment after February 2020 but have now been laid-off due to increased Covid restrictions can have their payment rate fixed by reference to their earnings in the period March to September 2020.

But anyone who was in employment before February 2020 but whose earnings have reduced in the period since February can still have their PUP payment rate set by reference to their earlier, higher, earnings.

This change resulted in about 30,000 claimants will getting an increase to their PUP from November 17th. See the table above for the rates .


Self Employed Earnings

If you are self-employed, your average weekly income in 2018 is used to decide your rate of payment. However, if you have already submitted your 2019 returns to the Revenue Commissioners and feel that it may make a difference to your rate, you can request a review of your payment from the DSP.

PUP Appeals

If your PUP rate is cut or you think you should be on a higher rate, you can appeal. You will need to request a review of earnings by forwarding all supporting documents. To request this review this you can :
Email: PUPRerate@welfare.ie OR write to: PUP Rerate Requests, DEASP, Intreo Centre, Cork Road, Waterford


Self Employed Earnings of €960 Over 8 Weeks is Allowed.

The Minister for Social Protection, Heather announced obn Dec 10th that self-employed people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) who are looking to restart their business can now earn up to €960 over an eight week period, while retaining their full PUP entitlement.

This is an increase from the €480 previously allowed over a four week period hat was announced in October.

This allows self-employed people getting PUP to take up occasional work opportunities and keep their PUP.

Self-employed people who resume their business on a limited or reduced basis when they leave PUP are eligible for the Part-Time Job Incentive scheme.


You do not need to formally apply to or notify the Department that you wish to avail of this earnings allowance of up to €9600. However, you must retain evidence of your earnings and have them available for inspection as you may be asked to provide these in future. You must also ensure that your earnings are within the threshold of €960 over an 8 week period and must stop your PUP payment should your earnings go above this level.

If your earnings are over €960 in an 8 week period and you work less than 24 hours per week, you can apply for the COVID-19 Part Time Job Incentive for the Self-Employed.


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Will the PUP be Backdated ?

There has been a lot of confusion about backdating. Most (maybe all) people who didn’t claim straight away, or whose claims were delayed, did not get their payment backdated to the day they lost their job.
On April 2nd a press release from Welfare said that… “any arrears due back to the last date of employment will be calculated and paid at a future date.”

On May 25th – Social Welfare said on their website …

If you are due arrears you will be paid when your claim is reviewed.
It may take a number of months before the Department will be able to review payments made to customers for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. If you are due arrears you will be notified and receive payment. There is no need to take any further action.”

Update – November 26th – PUP Arrears are now due to be paid to the majority of claimants on December 1st. More Details Here



Ending a PUP Claim

People who return to work should close their PUP claim on the actual date that they start back at work.

A single PUP payment covers 7 days from the Friday 11 days before the payday to the Thursday, 5 days before the payday.
If you close your claim and have at least one unpaid day of unemployment – welfare will pay you the full payment for that week.
So – this means that many workers will get one, or in some cases,two more payments after they return to work.

  • Example 1 –
  • Someone returns to work on Monday June 15th.
  • They close their claim on Monday June 15th
  • Covid Payment arrives Tuesday June 16th covering Fri June 5th to Thursday 11th June.
  • They are entitled to that full payment of €350.
  • They should also get another payment on Tue 23rd June because they were unemployed for at least one day from Friday 12th June.

Example 2

  • Someone returns to work on Saturday June 13th.They close their claim on June 13th
  • The Covid Payment on Tuesday June 16th covers Fri June 5th to Thursday 11th June.They are entitled to that full payment of €350.
  • They will also get another week’s payment on Tue 23rd June because they were unemployed on Friday 12th .

The easiest way to close a claim for the pandemic unemployment payment is online via MyWelfare.ie.

You can also email – at info@welfare.ie .
The department’s helpline is 1890 800 024 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm).


Claiming Jobseekers Benefit

Originally Welfare told everyone who applied for the PUP that they should also apply for a jobseekers’ payment within the first 12 weeks. This requirement for everyone to apply seems to have been dropped sometime in April – but couples with children should still apply for Jobseekers because they may get more that way.


Why is the PUP higher than Jobseekers?

The maximum PUP payment is €350 per week . The single person rate of Jobseekers allowance is currently €203 a week.

The main reason PUP is a higher rate than the basic Jobseekers Benefit is that it had to be done in a hurry.
Welfare said that if they forced everyone to apply for Jobseekers and go through a full assessment – all the claims could have taken several weeks or more to get paid. This could have resulted in thousands of people being left with no income at all. Instead , they set up this emergency payment of €350 for all with a quick and simple application.

The €350 a week is the same as the Jobseekers rate for an adult with an adult dependant. Some people may be getting more than they would on Jobseekers – but the Minister for Welfare said that they would rather overpay some people instead of underpaying others.

The COVID payment includes no amount for children. If you have a dependent partner and children you will be better off on full Jobseekers. If you eventually qualify for a higher amount of Jobseekers – then welfare should backdate any underpayment.

Who Can Get the PUP ?

  • Aged between 18 and 66
  • Living in Ireland
  • The payment is available to employees, self employed , full time or part time,
  • including people working and getting other social welfare benefits IF they have lost ALL employment in Ireland * because of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
    (includes temporarily laid-off from work or asked to stay at home from work due to the pandemic )
  • must have been in employment or self employment on or after Friday 13 March 2020, OR . If you work shifts, short time or other atypical work patterns you must have been in employment on or after 6 March 2020.
  • *If you are a cross-border worker who lives in Ireland, were working in Northern Ireland and you lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can also claim the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
  • Self Employed people can claim it but your trading income has to have “collapsed to the extent that you are available to take up other full-time employment if it was offered to you.” They will qualify for as long as they are available to take up other work. (The requirement originally was that you must have ceased trading because of the pandemic – but that was amended in early April)
  • Students who lose all employment can also claim the new COVID-19 payment. However, students should not apply for a jobseeker’s payment afterwards as they are not eligible. They should remain on the new COVID-19 payment.
  • If you have voluntarily taken time off work to look after your child because of school or childcare closures and you are no longer paid by your employer, you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
  • If you were working and were also in receipt of any social welfare payment such as a Carers Payment, Working Family Payment (WFP) or One-Parent Family Payment, you can, provided you have lost your job due to Covid-19, also claim the Covid emergency payment, in addition to retaining your existing welfare payment. The €350 COVID- 19 Payment Unemployment Payment will replace your employment income and will be regarded by the Department as equivalent to previous employment income. Your underlying social welfare payment will be adjusted to take account of the difference between the Covid-19 payment and your normal employment income. This may take some time and any overpayments will be taken from future payments.
  • Originally (up to April 25th) people who lost your job and were getting a partial social welfare payment, such as Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance, did not qualify for the Pandemic payment. Instead, they were told they would get the full rate of jobseeker’s payment. This was changed on the Welfare website on 25th April and now they say if casual Jobseekers claimants are now fully unemployed as a result of the COVID pandemic they should apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Their casual claim will be suspended and the COVID-19 payment will issue instead.
  • People getting Working Family Payment (WFP) will keep their WFP if they have lost all their employment because of COVID-19 related issues. They should also claim the new COVID-19 payment. But they shouldn’t apply for a jobseeker’s payment as this will close their Working Family Payment claim. Welfare say that your underlying social welfare payment will be adjusted to take account of the difference between the Covid-19 payment and your normal employment income. This may take some time and any overpayments will be taken from future payments.

You are not eligible to apply for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment if you:

  • were not laid-off from work by your employer, or
  • are continuing to receive income from your employment, or
  • voluntarily left your employment. (except to look after children).
    • In April ,welfare amended the wording a couple of times – and they now say. ” If you left work to care for a child or another person and your employer is no longer paying you, in some circumstances, you may qualify . ” Contact the DEASP using MyWelfare or call 1890 800 024 to find out if you can qualify.

Who Can’t Get it ?

  • If you were not laid-off from work by your employer
  • you are continuing to receive income from your employment,
  • If you voluntarily left your employment. (except to look after children).
  • Workers who live in Northern Ireland cannot apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. They can claim off the UK.
  • Casual Jobseekers claimants are now fully unemployed as a result of the COVID pandemic should apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Their casual claim will be suspended and the COVID-19 payment will issue instead.
  • Community Employment (CE) / TuS participants will continue to get a CE payment – so they should not apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
  • The application form asks the applicant to declare “I declare that I am not being paid by my employer at the moment.” So it should not be applied for if your hours have just been reduced. Your employer could apply for the COVID Wage Subsidy

Is PUP going to be Taxed ?

Revenue has indicated that it will treat the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment as taxable income.
If they treat it like Jobseekers Benefit – then when people return to employment it could result in an income tax liability of between 20% and 40% of the Covid Payments received. ( The actual amount will depend on your total income for the year). If your total taxable income in the year is less than €16500 – you will not be liable for any tax on it.

More Details here on the Taxation of Covid Unemployment Payment


How to Apply for Covid Payment

There is no need for to attend your local Intreo Centre

Paper applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment can also be downloaded here , printed and returned to PO BOX 12896, Dublin 1. via Freepost, (you just write “Freepost” on the envelope).

Or you can phone the Dept of Social Protection on 1890 800 024 or 01 2481398 for an application form . Or email them – forms@welfare.ie

You do not need to have a Public Services Card (PSC) to claim the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. However, you will need to get one later.

Payments were originally to Irish banks only. (From November Revolut and N26 accounts are now allowed) .

Those applying on or after 8th April can also choose to collect their payment in a post office. They can nominate their local post office and they will need to bring a form of ID with them when collecting their payment .
Payments will be made into a bank/credit union account or to a nominated post office every Tuesday once an application is processed.


You can apply for full Jobseekers Payments through the online channel mywelfare.ie .


PRSI

If you are getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or you are being paid under the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, when you apply for social insurance payments (for example, Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and the State Pension (Contributory), you will be treated as if you have been paying insurance contributions based on your normal social insurance class.