Janet Horner chats about maintaining your PRSI credits while away.
Returning from volunteering overseas can be a very stressful time, trying to re-establish your life at home and move on from your time overseas.
As Comhlámh’s Information and Support Officer I meet many returned volunteers who face short-term and long-term problems in relation to their social welfare entitlements. Many recently returned volunteers need to access unemployment, illness or maternity benefit but struggle to do so as there is a gap in their PRSI record from their time overseas. Those who were overseas for longer periods of time and are now approaching state pension age can find that their pension entitlement is less due to this gap in their record. For those who have been overseas for really long periods of time, they can even struggle to access any pension entitlement at all. This can leave people in a very challenging and difficult situation.
Thinking about your PRSI record before going overseas is really important. Having a full PRSI record means that you are entitled to claim various social welfare supports should you need them on return. The VDW Scheme is a free scheme to avail of that ensures that volunteers and development workers are protected in their social welfare and state pension entitlements as far as possible. Whether or not you expect to need social welfare supports on your return it is worthwhile filling in the simple form before you go overseas (and asking your sending agency to do the same) to ensure that your rights are protected and that you will not face any additional stress. All you need to do then is just let us know when you have returned and we will ensure that your record is brought up to date.