As Covid illness payments end today
Over 4,056 people are in receipt of a disability payment from the Department of Social Protection because they were unable to return to work after their Covid Enhanced Illness Benefit payment ceased, it has been revealed following an analysis of welfare claims by Denis Naughten TD.
“While the Government is today making the final payment of Enhanced Illness Benefit to people who contracted Covid, we still have thousands of workers who contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus over the last two years and were unable to return to work at least 12 weeks later,” stated Denis Naughten.
“These workers, some of whom worked on the frontline during the pandemic, are being ignored by the health service, which has still to establish a proper treatment programme for those suffering from conditions associated with long Covid.”
Denis Naughten added: “There was a sharp rise in the number of people in receipt of an illness payment experiencing Covid-19 in excess of 12 weeks over the winter period, the increase in numbers has now slowed but is still growing.
“As of yet there are no figures available on the incidence of long Covid in Ireland. However, analysis of figures from the Department of Social Protection shows that 0.81% of workers are still unable to return to work 12 weeks after their initial infection. This is indicative of the significant challenge we are facing, particularly within our health service, to manage and treat the impacts associated with this condition.
“The figures I have obtained from the Department of Social Protection are indicative of a much higher rate of long Covid in the community, with many people ineligible for such a welfare payment or back in work but with the illness impacting on their productivity and daily lives.
“If this incident rate was applied to the population as a whole then there could be at least 21,000 people who are unable to go to work due to long Covid. This figure does not take into account the tens of thousands who are suffering with less severe forms of long Covid who are going to work but not contributing to the same extent they did prior to the illness. Nor does it take into account the thousands of people who recovered from the initial infection but had a subsequent relapse.
“Not only is this having a significant impact on our labour force but, as an Australian long Covid study put it, even low rates of Covid-related permanent illness or disability could still lead to significant future burden of disease on our society.
“The long Covid claimants who have been deemed medically unfit to work are now making up between 8-10% of the total number of Illness Benefit claims, which shows the real impact this condition is having on people’s lives. If these figures are reflected across the population as a whole, then this will have a significant impact on our society as well as our hospital waiting lists,” said Denis Naughten.
|PQ figure date||Enhanced Illness Benefit (Covid-19) claimants 10+||Illness Benefit 2+ weeks post EIB claimants|
|15th September 21||767||460|
|14th February 22||4,314||3,018|
|31st March 22||4,811||3,428|
|24th June 22||5,291||3,783|
|15th September 22||5,637||4,056|
Previous Welfare PQ replies
- Based on the PQ below 0.81% of Enhanced Illness Benefit claimants of over 10 weeks went on to receive another illness related payment for at least 2 weeks, meeting the emerging scientific criteria for long Covid.
For Written Answer on : 15/09/2022
Question Number(s): 252 Question Reference(s): 45310/22
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: Denis Naughten T.D.
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the number of claims submitted and the number of persons who have received enhanced illness benefit for Covid-19; the number of persons who were in payment for two, four, six, eight and ten weeks, respectively; the number of persons who transferred to illness benefit after the ten-week payment period had expired; the number of these claims that were in payment for more than two weeks; the number that were transferred to disability allowance after the ten-week payment period had expired; the number of these claims that were in payment for more than two weeks; the number of such claims that were rejected or pending; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Enhanced Illness Benefit (EIB) is a form of Illness Benefit that is payable to self-employed persons or an employee who is told to self-isolate or has been diagnosed with Covid-19. It is important to note that a person may have received Enhanced Illness Benefit on more than one occasion since the payment was introduced, and thus have more than one claim for Enhanced illness Benefit. The number of claims received and the individuals claiming EIB up to 11th September 2022 are provided in Table 1.
Table 1: Number of EIB Claims and EIB Recipients
EIB is payable for up to 10 weeks where a person is diagnosed with Covid-19. In a case where a person continues to be ill beyond 10 weeks, standard Illness Benefit may be paid for an extended period, based on the person’s continued eligibility. Details on the duration of EIB claims are set out in Table 2. The data in Table 2 refers to the claim duration, based on the certification dates.
Table 2: EIB claim durations
Of the 7,417 claims with a total certification period of 10 or more weeks, these relate to 5,637 individuals of whom 4,056 transferred to Illness Benefit payments, and were certified for 2 or more weeks. 98 persons who had at least one EIB claim of more than 10 weeks duration are now in receipt of Disability Allowance. A total of 73 people had a Disability Allowance claim rejected, while 27 people had Disability Allowance claims pending as of end-August 2022.