What is PCB?
It is a payment made to a person whose capacity to work has been reduced due to illness. They must have been in receipt of Illness Benefit for at least 6 months prior to application or be receiving Invalidity Pension.
It allows you to retain a percentage of your current benefit payment while earning a wage.
How to apply
You must complete an application form from the PCB section of revenue, phone number listed below. The form is not available online so must be posted out.
This benefit requires a medical assessment to classify your level of incapacity as moderate, severe or profound. Depending on the classification you will continue to receive a percentage of your illness benefit or invalidity pension regardless of the hours you work.
Level of incapacity % of benefit retained
You cannot undertake work until you have received written confirmation of approval of this payment.
Is it worth it?
This is a difficult question to answer as it depends very much on your personal situation and circumstances. There is a possibility that you could end up with less income after returning to work on this scheme.
Mywelfare.ie provides a tool to try to estimate the benefit of working: https://www.mywelfare.ie/benefitofworkdaestimator
How it works in the real world
The information online doesn’t include any real world examples so I reached out and managed to connect with some people who have been through the process. Their input gave helpful insight into how this actually works and I will try to outline here.
Application Form and Medical Assessment
The PCB application form consists of lots of personal questions and a consent to release your medical information.
There is a section for your doctor to fill in regarding your condition. This seems to be your medical assessment which was the case for the people I spoke to.
This raises the question of how standardised these assessments are as the questions are fairly subjective. One GP might say I am ‘moderately’ incapacitated but another may think my case is ‘mild’. This has an effect on potential income. In fact, if categorised as mild then I don’t qualify at all.
Fictional Case Study
Let’s work through an example to take into account some of the factors involved with this benefit.
- Ann receives €200 invalidity pension per week
- She has been classified as “moderately” incapacitated by her GP so receives PCB of 50%, this reduces her payment to €100
- She applies for a job working 5 hours a week at €10 per hour
Invalidity Pension PCB
Government Payment 200 100
Wages - 50
Total Income 200 150
In this example, Ann’s income is reduced by €50 under PCB. She would need to work twice the hours or for double the hourly rate to maintain the income she currently receives on benefits. Her wages are also subject to income tax which will reduce the amount further.
Ann has lots of experience and is qualified for the role she seeks. She misses the social aspect of work and the challenges and sense of achievement she got when she was working. She decides the drop in income is worth the potential boost to her self-esteem. She wants to feel ‘normal’ again and be part of society.
She also has the comfort of knowing that if her circumstances change or if work becomes too much for her she can simply revert back to her invalidity pension.
There are some complications to this scheme.
- You must apply and qualify for PCB prior to taking up employment.
- The time to process an application can be very lengthy. It can take weeks to receive the form. Then you must arrange for your GP to carry out the assessment and then wait for the PCB section of revenue to approve the application. In some cases this may lead to missed opportunities as employers may not hold positions open while the paperwork is being processed.
I would recommend contacting Citizens Information or MS Ireland for advice and guidance on how to proceed with this benefit and to see if it is appropriate for you in your circumstances. It will be far less stressful if you have someone to talk you through the process.
Partial Capacity Benefit section of revenue phone number (01) 704 3300
MS Ireland Information Line phone number 1850 233 233