Volunteering & Social Welfare Payments

In general, individuals can volunteer for as long and as frequently as they wish without affecting any of their social welfare payments.

For those in receipt of payments from the Department of Social Protection due to being unemployed or disabled the following criterias must be met before volunteering:

  1. The individual must continue to meet the conditions for getting their unemployment payment, for example, s/he must be genuinely seeking work and be available to take up work as soon as the opportunity arises.
  2. The voluntary organisation must have official approval from the individual's local employment exchange before taking on the volunteer. To do this, the organisation must complete a simple application form (VW1) which can be obtained from the local office of the Department of Social and Family Affairs or Kerry Volunteer Centre.

Volunteering and disability-related social welfare payments

There are various disability-related social welfare payments which can be claimed. Whilst returning to paid employment will effect payment, voluntary activity if it adheres to the following conditions will not affect payment:

  • The voluntary activity is not paid and is being done without motivation of financial gain.
  • The Disability Benefit / Injury Benefit sections of the Department must be contacted beforehand.
  • People on a Unemployment Supplement or Invalidity Pension who wish to undertake work need to apply to the Unemployment Supplement or Invalidity Pension sections of the Department with medical evidence (a letter from their doctor) that the work is rehabilitative and beneficial to them.
  • For people on Disability Allowance, a letter from the voluntary organisation is required by the Disability Allowance section of the Department stating that the work is being done on a voluntary basis and no payment is being made for it.
  • A person in receipt of Blind Person's Pension who takes up work is only affected when there is a change in means (that is, if they are being paid). Contact the Blind Person's Pension section of the Department if unsure.
Before starting voluntary work or training of any kind, it is essential to get permission from the Department of Social Protection. For further information please see www.welfare.ie or contact the Department of Social and Family Affairs on 1890 66 22 44 if you have any queries about any of the information above.