EXPLAINER: When will the Social Welfare Christmas Bonus be paid and who is entitled to it in 2020?
Over 1.6 million social welfare recipients across Ireland will receive the Christmas Bonus this December, with the payments expected to cost €390 million according to the Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.
The Christmas Bonus is an extra payment for people getting a long-term social welfare payment.
As per previous years, the 100% Christmas Bonus (the minimum payment is €20) will be paid to long term social welfare recipients such as pensioners, people with disabilities, carers and lone parents.
On an exceptional basis this year, the Christmas Bonus will also be paid to recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) provided they have been in receipt of a PUP payment - continuously or otherwise - for at least 4 months (17 weeks) since March.
It’s estimated that 311,270 people who have been on the PUP will receive the Christmas Bonus, totalling over €93 million. This means that approximately 90% of PUP recipients (currently 350,000) are in line to receive a Christmas Bonus.
So, who is entitled to the Christmas Bonus?
In 2020, people getting the following payments will get a Christmas Bonus:
- Back to Education Allowance (people coming from jobseeker's payments need to be on their payment and/or BTEA for 15 months)
- Back to Work Enterprise Allowance
- Back to Work Family Dividend
- Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (long-term only - 15 months/over 455 days)
- Blind Pension
- Carer's Allowance and Benefit (including half-rate Carer's Allowance)
- Community Employment
- Deserted Wife's Allowance and Benefit
- Daily Expenses Allowance, formerly called Direct Provision Allowance (long-term only - 15 months)
- Disability Allowance
- Disablement Pension and Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension under the Occupational Injuries Scheme
- Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Farm Assist
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory) and (Non-Contributory)
- Invalidity Pension
- Job Initiative
- Jobseeker's Allowance (for at least 4 months)
- Jobseeker's Transitional payment
- Magdalene Laundry Payment
- One-Parent Family Payment
- Partial Capacity Benefit
- Rural Social Scheme
- State Pension (Contributory) and (Non-Contributory)
- VTOS (people coming from jobseeker's payments must have been on their payment and/or VTOS for 15 months)
- Widow, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension (Contributory) and (Non-Contributory)
The Christmas Bonus is also paid to people getting Blind Welfare Allowance, Mobility Allowance, and rehabilitative training allowance from the HSE. Survivors of Thalidomide who get payments from the Department of Health also get the bonus.
What about those receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)?
People getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) or a jobseeker's payment, will get the Christmas Bonus in 2020.
To qualify, you must have been getting the payment for 17 weeks (weeks do not have to be consecutive) since 13 March 2020. This means you may still qualify for the Christmas Bonus if you have had a break in your payment because, for example, you temporarily returned to work.
In addition, one of the following must apply:
- You are getting PUP for at least 1 day in the 7 days that start on 27 November 2020 and ends on 3 December 2020, or
- You are getting Jobseeker's Allowance for at least 1 day in the 7 days that start on 2 December 2020 and ends on 8 December 2020 or
- You are getting Jobseeker's Benefit for at least 1 day in the 7 days that start on 3 December 2020 and ends on 9 December 2020
How much is the Christmas Bonus?
In 2020, the Christmas Bonus will be 100% of your normal weekly payment (including the Living Alone Increase, the Island Allowance and the Over-80 Increase). The Christmas Bonus does not include Fuel Allowance. The minimum Christmas Bonus payment is €20.
If an Increase for a Qualified Adult is paid directly to your dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, the Christmas Bonus is also paid directly to them.
When will it be paid?
The Government confirmed last week that all social welfare recipients entitled to a Christmas bonus will receive the payment on the week beginning December 7.
As the PUP Payment Week runs from Friday to Thursday, any person in receipt of PUP for any one day of the period Friday, 27th November to Thursday, 3rd December, will receive the Christmas Bonus payment on Tuesday, 8th December as long as they have accrued their 17 weeks.
For example, people who go back to work early next week will still receive the Christmas Bonus as they were in receipt of PUP for at least one day during the said period.
The same criteria is also being applied to those on Jobseeker’s payments, who in previous years would have only received the Bonus if they had been out of work for at least 15 months.