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Friday 22 August 2014

60,000 people claiming social welfare abroad

Published 07/07/2013 | 10:37

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Nearly 60,000 people living overseas claim Irish welfare payments from destinations as far flung as the Cayman Islands, Iran and Morocco.

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The total bill for sending pensions, child benefits, disability allowances, carer payments, jobseeker's and maternity benefits to countries around the world last year was nearly 300 million euros.

 

Around €13.3m was paid out for child benefit alone. Those payments were made to 5,039 families - in respect of 7,922 children - who live outside Ireland.

 

The Department of Social Protection said it could not give a country-by-country breakdown of where child benefits are being claimed abroad.

 

But it could detail the whereabouts of claimants for all other welfare payments.

 

The Government abandoned plans last year to cut child benefits paid to EU nationals working in Ireland for their children who live abroad, under EU regulations.

 

The newly-released figures also show State pension cheques - worth €260m - were picked up in more than 90 countries around the globe last year.

 

Pensioners who have left Ireland but still qualify for the payments were most likely to live in the UK (11,229), the US (6,607) or Australia (3,761).

 

Hundreds more are retired in New Zealand (243), the Netherlands (302), Spain (620), Germany (615), France (368), Belgium (88) and Portugal (73).

 

These include overseas residents claiming contributory and transition state pensions, as well as widows or widowers contributory pension.

 

Scores of pensioners get their payments in well-known tax havens such as Andorra (4), Bermuda (3), Cayman Islands (1), Cyprus (42), Isle of Man (38), Luxembourg (7), Malta (26) and British Virgin Islands (1).

 

Other far-off destinations where people pick up monthly Irish State pension cheques include Zimbabwe (6), Sri Lanka (2), Trinidad and Tobago (4), Qatar (1), Malawi (1), Jordan (2), Hong Kong (8), Fiji (1), Cambodia (1), Costa Rica (1), Guatemala (1), India (3) and Iran (1).

 

There were 13 people who claimed carers benefit while abroad last year - in Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland - totalling €140,000.

 

Legislation allows for carers to be paid their allowances abroad for 13 weeks if the person they are looking after is getting medical treatment there.

 

More than 200 people are claiming disablement benefits, adding up to more than one million euros a year, in countries around the globe.

 

These include Australia (12), Belgium (1), Canada (3), Czech Republic (1), Denmark (1), England (63), Estonia (1), France (5), Germany (3), Hungary (1), Italy (4), Latvia (1) and Lithuania (1).

 

Also the Netherlands (1), New Zealand (1), Northern Ireland (44), Poland (26), Qatar (1), Scotland (2), Spain (11), Thailand (1), USA (14) and Wales (4).

 

Anyone claiming illness benefits in Ireland can take their payments with them to any country in the EU.

 

Likewise, anyone who paid their last social insurance contribution or claimed jobseeker's benefit in Ireland before moving abroad can apply for illness benefit if they get sick overseas.

 

It is usually not payable outside the EU except for special circumstances such as for medical treatment.

 

Another 300 illness benefit payments, of €198.36, are paid out every week to claimants in Belgium (2), Cyprus (1), Czech Republic (1), Denmark (1), France (3) and Germany (3).

 

Illness benefits are also paid in Greece (1), Italy (2), Lithuania (1), Malta (2), Netherlands (1), Northern Ireland (185), Poland (22), Portugal (3), South Africa (9) and the UK (54).

 

Only four people outside the State claim the weekly 206.08 euro occupational injury benefits - three in Northern Ireland and one in Poland.

 

Invalidity pensions, totalling €3.95m last year, were paid out in countries such as Australia (203), US (17), Thailand (2), Slovakia (7), Portugal (2), Philippines (3), Norway (4), Lithuania (20), India (1), Germany (47) and the Canary Islands (1).

 

These payments are for people permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity, and who have paid enough social insurance contributions.

 

Twenty expectant mothers claimed maternity benefits overseas last year, worth €130,000. They qualified for the payment based on social insurance contributions paid while working in Ireland.

 

Legislation also allows jobseekers to claim payment, for up to 13 weeks, if they are looking for work in another country within the EU.

 

The Department of Social Protection said around 330 people are currently getting jobseeker's overseas.

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