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Despite what many people think, you can still receive a range of social welfare payments if you are self-employed.  However you must also meet any conditions of the payment, eg. to receive a Jobseekers payment you must be available and looking for full-time work.  Generally speaking these payments are means-tested and any profit you make from your self-employment will be assessed.

The starting point for assessing your income is usually your last complete tax return.  However in many circumstances your income will have dropped since your last tax return.  If this is the case you can ask for your income to be assessed on a different basis, for example the past 3 months or 6 months.  You will have to provide evidence to support your request.  If you are making no profit, and have no other income, you should receive the full rate of payment.

If your income has dropped you can ask for your claim to be re-assessed.  If you are not happy with the amount which has been assessed against you, you can appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.