Back to Work Allowance

The Back To Work Allowance Scheme allows people to return to work and keep some of their Social Welfare payments, such as disability allowance, for up to four years. People who have been receiving unemployment benefit or assistance for at least 2 years (previously, this was at least 3 years) and are aged at 23 years or over can qualify for the scheme.

You can also qualify for the scheme if you have been receiving certain other Social Welfare Payments – including Disability Allowance and Carer’s Allowance – for at least 15 months (12 months if you are over 50).

The work involved must be likely to develop into a lasting job, be for a minimum of 20 hours a week and last for at least 12 months.


If taking up self-employment, you will be paid an allowance equal to

  • 100% of your allowance rate for the first year,
  • 75% for the second year,
  • 50% for the third year,
  • 25% for the fourth year.

If taking up employment, you will be paid an allowance equal to

  • 75% of your allowance rate for the first year,
  • 50% for the second year,
  • 25% for the third year.

While on the Back to Work Allowance, if your household income (including income of your spouse/partner) is less than €317.43, you will retain any secondary benefits you already have such as Free Travel, Fuel Allowance, Free Electricity Allowance, etc. You will also retain your Medical Card entitlement.

To find out more about the Back to Work Allowance, contact your local Social Welfare Office.

Reviewed: September 28, 2006