This week we covered the delay in maternity benefit payments and asked our mums to get in touch.


This system backlog has seen some mothers on maternity leave go for more than a month without any sort of income.


The Department of Social Protection said the backlog would be resolved ‘in a matter of weeks’. The payments stand at €235. Paternity benefits, which are paid for two weeks, have not been affected.


The number of women waiting for their claims to be processed is 2,850, with almost half of these being mothers who have already begun their maternity leave.



One mum, Sinead, shared her story on MummyPages Facebook, writing: “I had my son over a month ago and I'm still waiting on mine.”


She expressed her annoyance with the Department when she inquired about her claim: “I called them twice. A 45-minute wait is not practical when you have a little man with reflux.”


Department website advises women to apply six weeks before their due date. For some women who have been affected by delays, their application time had no bearing on whether they received benefits on time.


Another mum, Amy, said: “‘Make sure to send it six weeks before you're due to take mat leave’, what's the point?


"I sent mine in at the start of February, maternity leave began May 4; and when I rang them, I was told they were only dealing with claims that are due to start April 4. Absolute joke!”


“So frustrating,” she added.  “I'm due next week and probably won't have any maternity benefit until the end of May or start of June.”



The Department of Social Protection said this problem would be resolved ‘in a matter of weeks’; however, the number of weeks is unclear. One mum said, “When I enquired via email yesterday, I was told by the Department it is a six- to eight-week delay.”


Some mothers were angry that this delay came as a complete surprise; and with no obligation under Irish law for employers to pay during maternity leave, many mothers have been left without the ability to budget.


“This is ridiculous,” said Lynn. “When applications were made, women should have been informed of this delay, at least giving us the courtesy of an opportunity to put measures in place. I'm on maternity leave starting Friday, with no contribution from my employer. I’m solely relying on my benefit to pay the mortgage and childcare for my other children. This is just absolutely not acceptable!”


Expectant mum Leanne said, “I'm going on maternity leave in three weeks, and my job doesn’t cover it. I hope they will back-date my payment if I'm not going to be paid for a couple of months.


“It's ridiculous as we are working mothers.”



In a statement to MummyPages, the Department said the issue has been ongoing since February.


The Department also said this issue with training staff was caused by a ‘high turnover of staff’: “The Department has recently experienced a high turnover of staff in our Buncrana office which processes maternity claims. We have also experienced challenges in recruiting replacement staff, and once recruited, it takes time for staff to be fully trained.”


"However, as is the case when implementing any new system, it takes time to familiarise and train staff in the new processes.”


Some readers who replied to our thread confirmed this issue wasn’t a recent revelation. “This has been going on ages,” said Fiona. “I've been on maternity leave since the week before Christmas and it was almost the end of January when my payments started. I had my forms sent in plenty of time.”

Another mother said she had received her first payment when her child was five months old.



Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has advised women to apply for an Exceptional Means Payment of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme. The Exceptional Means Payment is under the SWA scheme.


SWA is a weekly payment for people that have insufficient means or no income. The Exceptional Needs Payment is means tested and those in full-time work or education aren’t eligible.

In a statement, the Department said: “Where a delay in Maternity Benefit is causing financial difficulty, we would ask customers to contact their local Community Welfare Service for assistance.

“The rate for Supplementary Welfare Allowance is €191 per week."


The Department also advised women to apply online to have claims processed faster.