Child benefit extension to students aged 18 and teens with disability to come in from May 1st

Payment for further year implemented four months earlier than had been scheduled

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has confirmed in the Dáil that child benefit will be extended to 18-year-olds in full-time education and children with a disability from May 1st, four months earlier than planned.

Currently the monthly benefit is paid up to the age of 18 but the Government announced in Budget 2024 that it would be extended for a further year, with the move having been scheduled to be introduced in September.

About 60,000 children will benefit from the measure at an additional cost to the exchequer of €21.6 million over the four extra months and €43.2 million for 2024. The €140 monthly payment currently applies to children up to the age of 18 but will be extended to those in full-time education and to children with a disability up to the age of 19.

The legislation to provide for the measure was passed in the Oireachtas last month, and Ms Humphreys said that “significant technical and operational changes” originally provided for a September extension, but she was in a position to implement it four months earlier.


Ms Humphreys said “child benefit is one of few tools at my disposal that I can use to support working families. I have prioritised double and lump sum payments, and I do know they have been important to families.”

She told Fine Gael TD Ciaran Cannon, who asked when the measure would be implemented, that “children are starting school later, and then have transition year. So that means a lot of young people are in full-time secondary education for longer.”

She said: “I was talking to a woman the other day. She told me she used the child benefit payment to pay for grinds for her daughter for the Leaving Cert, so she was absolutely delighted” the payment is being extended for another year.

Later the Minister confirmed that over the past decade, 69 per cent of applicants for disability allowance whose claims had been refused proved successful on appeal, either in full or partially. Between 2014 and March 2024 the Social Welfare Appeals Office received 58,485 appeals, of which 39,658, or 69 per cent, were granted. Ms Humphreys said “the department is aware that many people submit an application immediately on diagnosis, but before full medical reports are received”.

Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín described the figures as “shocking”, and said people with disabilities were “struggling to survive and to get what they are entitled to from the State, and in 69 per cent of the refusals the Minister’s department made a mistake”.

“The department might say that people with disabilities may not be able to fill the forms properly. Surely, it is the Minister’s job to make sure there is a system of application that is accessible to people with disabilities,” he said. Ms Humphreys rejected his claim that the department “is blocking people from getting assistance”. Insisting that “that is not true”, she pointed to the statistics and said “the number of people receiving disability allowance has increased massively in recent years” from about 100,000 to more than 158,000 over the past 10 years, a more than 50 per cent increase.

Fine Gael TD Richard Bruton suggested the department should alert medical professionals to clarify for applicants “the exact form of certification required, and what must be certified. In my experience, that is what repeatedly sees people fail at the first attempt and succeed at the second.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times