COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is a social welfare payment for employees and self-employed people who have lost all their employment due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
You can apply for the payment if you are aged between 18 and 66. Students, non-EEA nationals and part-time workers can apply for the payment.
PUP is paid every Tuesday into a bank account in the State.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will remain open to new applicants and continue to be paid until 31 March 2021. From 1 April 2021, if you are unemployed you will have to apply for a jobseeker’s payment.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been told to self-isolate by your GP, you should apply for COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.
You can find out more about COVID-19 and social welfare payments.
Who can get COVID-19 PUP?
Employees, self-employed people, workers applying for international protection (including those in direct provision), students and part-time workers can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Both EEA and non-EEA workers qualify.
To qualify for PUP, you must:
Have lost your job or been laid off because of COVID-19
Be self-employed and your trading income has ceased due to the COVID-19 public health emergency or your trading income has collapsed to the extent that you are available to take up other full-time employment. You do not need to de-register as self-employed to get a payment.
You must also:
- Be aged between 18 and 66
- Live in the Republic of Ireland
- Have been in employment or self-employment in Ireland on or after 13 March 2020
- Be genuinely seeking work
- Not be getting any income from employment
- Have at least one PRSI contribution in the 4 weeks before claiming PUP or be in insurable self-employment.
If you are refused PUP because the DSP does not have any recent record of your employer’s PRSI contributions, you should contact the DSP and provide proof of your recent earnings. For example, your recent payslips or a copy of your ‘Payroll details’ which you can find in the ‘Your job/pension’ section in your Revenue ‘MyAccount’.
You may lose your payment if you:
- Refuse to return to your place of work following lay off
- Refuse an offer of suitable employment
- Refuse or fail to engage with activation measures – this can include training that will help you find a job
If you are self-employed
If you are self-employed you can earn up to €480 over 4 weeks and keep your PUP payment.
The €480 limit is based on gross income (before tax and PRSI) minus expenses. You do not need to apply to or notify the DSP that you are earning below this amount over 4 weeks.
If your earnings go over €480 in a 4 week period, you must stop your PUP payment. You must keep evidence of your earnings so you can provide it for inspection.
If you earn over €480 over 4 weeks and you work less than 24 hours a week, you can apply for the COVID-19 Part Time Job Incentive for the Self-Employed.
If you get a redundancy payment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are eligible to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This applies to both voluntary and compulsory redundancy. If you were temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 and later get a redundancy payment, you are eligible for PUP as long as you continue to meet all the other eligibility criteria. Your redundancy payment does not impact your eligibility for the payment.
Can I get PUP when I return to education?
If you are a student and getting PUP, your payment will continue as long as you continue to satisfy the qualifying conditions outlined above.
If you are entering the first year of your course, you may qualify for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). For more information on how to qualify – see ‘Back to Education Allowance and PUP’ below.
Can I reapply if I stopped claiming my payment?
If you stopped claiming because you returned to work, but are laid off or become unemployed again because of COVID-19, you can reapply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
If you were getting PUP and stopped claiming because you left Ireland, you can reapply when you return. However, you may not be paid for the 14 days that you are required to self-isolate when you return from abroad.
A cross-border or frontier worker is any employed or self-employed person who works in one jurisdiction and lives in another. Living in another jurisdiction means that you return to your home country every day, as a rule, or at least once a week. If a frontier worker loses their job, they should claim unemployment benefits from the country they are living in.
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 public health emergency, you can claim the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
Workers who live in Northern Ireland cannot apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
Should I apply for PUP or a jobseeker payment?
If you have lost your job and have dependants, you may get a higher payment if you apply for Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) instead of PUP. This is because PUP does not pay anything extra for dependants. Your dependants include your spouse or partner and your children.
If you were working casually, and were getting a jobseeker’s payment, and you became fully unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, you can claim PUP.
If your days at work have been reduced, you do not qualify for PUP. You can apply for:
- Short Time Work Support if you are working 3 days or less per week
- Jobseeker’s Allowance if you do not satisfy the PRSI conditions for Short Time Work Support
- Supplementary Welfare Allowance if you are working more than 3 days per week (for example, you are working 5 mornings per week)
You can also read about
- Jobseeker’s Benefit (Self-Employed) – based on PRSI contributions
- Jobeeker’s Allowance for Professional Artists – means tested
PUP and other social welfare payments
If you were working and getting one of the following social welfare payments, you can keep your social welfare payment at its current rate and claim the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (if you have lost your job due to COVID-19):
- Carer’s payments
- Disability Allowance
- Working Family Payment
- One-Parent Family Payment
- Jobseeker’s Transitional payment
Back to Education Allowance and PUP
People currently getting PUP can qualify for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). You do not have to satisfy the usual time limits for BTEA. For example, you may qualify for BTEA for a 3rd level course even if you have been getting PUP for less than 9 months. You must be entering the first year of your course.
You will have to transfer to a jobseeker’s payment (for example, Jobseeker’s Allowance) before you can get BTEA, and your BTEA rate will be based on your qualifying payment.
PUP and Maternity Benefit
If you are pregnant and your employer has no work available and cannot pay you, you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This applies both when your due date is within 16 weeks and if it is more than 16 weeks from the last day of your employment.
If you are getting PUP, you are treated as if you are in employment when you apply for Maternity Benefit. You submit your Maternity Benefit application as normal. Your maternity leave should start no later than 2 weeks before the end of the week in which your baby is due.
If you are still getting a COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment when you are due to begin your maternity leave, you must close your claim and claim Maternity Benefit. You should ask your GP to complete form MB3 to send along with your application.
Rate of payment
The rate of COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is linked to your previous earnings. You do not need to contact the DSP about your earnings. The DSP has access to this information from Revenue.
There is no payment for adult or child dependants.
From 16 October 2020 to 31 January 2021, COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) weekly rate:
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate|
|€400 or over||€350|
|€300 – €399.99||€300|
|€200 – €299.99||€250|
|Less than €200||€203|
Employee earnings assessment
If you are an employee, your average gross weekly earnings is assessed in 3 separate periods – from January to December 2019, from January to February 2020 and from March to September 2020. The higher figure is used.
For example, if your average gross weekly earnings were €210 in January to February 2020 and €195 in March to September 2020, the figure of €210 will be used. Similarly, if your average gross weekly earnings in 2019 were higher than in 2020, the 2019 figure will be used.
Self-employment earnings assessment
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.
To request a review of your new rate, you should email PUPRerate@welfare.ie. You can also write to PUP Rerate Requests, Department of Social Protection, Intreo Centre, Cork Road, Waterford. You should include all supporting documentation with your request.
Changes from February 2021
The rate of payment will be reduced in February 2021 to bring it gradually in line with the standard jobseeker payment of €203.
Tax and PRSI
The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is liable to income tax and USC at the end of the year. However, the amount of tax you are liable to pay depends on your overall income during the year. You will not pay tax, if your tax liability is less than your tax credits and allowances.
In January 2021, your Preliminary End of Year Statement will be available from Revenue. The statement will show your income tax and USC for 2020. It will tell you whether you have underpaid or overpaid your tax for 2020. If you have underpaid your tax, you can:
- Arrange to fully or partially repay the tax due using myAccount or
- Revenue can collect the underpayment by reducing your tax credits over a period of 4 years, starting in January 2022
You will not have to pay interest on any underpayment.
You will be deemed to have paid PRSI contributions at the same class that you were paying immediately before you were laid off while you are getting the payment. This will help you to qualify for other social welfare payments such as Jobseeker’s Benefit, Maternity and Adoptive Benefit.
If you think you have been wrongly refused the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, you can appeal this decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.
You should include any additional information in support of your application.
Returning to work
You must close your claim for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment on the day you start work.
If you have questions about closing your claim, you can contact the DSP income support helpline on 1890 800 024 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm).
If you applied for the COVID19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and your employer has re-employed you under the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme or the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, you must close your claim for the payment. You can close your claim using MyWelfare.ie.
If you are self-employed and have closed your COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, you may be able to get an Enterprise Support Grant of up to €1000.
You can find more information about supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19.
How to apply
You should apply online for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment on MyWelfare.ie. This is the quickest way to apply.
- A basic MyGovId account (all you need is an e-mail address and password)
- Your personal details
- Your bank details (payment can only be made to an Irish bank account)
The DSP has asked people to ensure that essential details such as dates of birth, PPS numbers and IBANs are entered correctly as this can delay applications. An IBAN has 22 characters.
If you cannot apply online, you can contact the Department of Social Protection for a paper form and apply by post.