People providing care for family members often are so busy with their caring responsibilities that they don’t always have time to look at what supports are available to them. It is important that they know that carers may be entitled to a number of supports from the Department of Social Protection (DSP).
The two main social welfare payments for carers providing full-time care are Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit. One may also qualify for an annual Carer’s Support Grant. Another consideration would be taking Carer’s Leave from work to care for a loved one. There are also some secondary benefits for which the person who is caring, may qualify.
What is the difference between Carer’s Benefit and Carer’s Allowance?
Carer’s Benefit is a short-term payment paid for up to two years to people who give up employment to care on a full-time basis for someone who requires full-time care and attention. It is PRSI based and you have to have a certain number of PRSI contributions paid. People who are self-employed and paying a Class S PRSI contribution will not qualify.
Carer’s Allowance is a payment for people who are caring on a full-time basis for someone who requires full-time care and attention and will require it for at least 12 months. You must satisfy a means test and the habitual residency condition to qualify for Carer’s Allowance.
To claim either payment, you must complete an application form and submit it to DSP. It is important that you put in detailed information in relation to the level of care that you are providing to support your application.
What does ‘full time care’ mean?
A person is seen as needing full-time care when they need continual supervision to avoid danger to themselves or they need continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day with normal bodily functions. For example, help to walk and get about, eat or drink, get washed or dressed. The Department of Social Protection will decide if the person needs full-time care. This decision will be based on the information that the Carer provides on the application form
This Medical Report is not needed if the person being cared for is a child who is getting Domiciliary Care Allowance.
You or the person needing care must not be living in a hospital or institution. However, you can continue to be seen as providing full-time care if you or the person being cared for is having medical or other treatment in a hospital or institution for no longer than 13 weeks.
Do you have to be caring for a set number of hours to qualify for a Carer’s payment?
The time spent providing care must not be less than 35 hours per week, over five to seven days. If you are away, you must be able to arrange full-time care for the person you care for.
Can you do any paid work while on Carer’s Benefit or Carer’s Allowance?
You can be employed, self-employed, in training or in education outside the home for up to a maximum of 18.5 hours per week.
If on Carer’s Benefit, the maximum amount you can earn is €350 per week after tax, PRSI & Union dues are deducted
If you are single, €350 of your total weekly income is not taken into account in the means test for Carer’s Allowance. If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting the first €750 of your combined total weekly income is not taken into account.
What is Carer’s Leave?
Carer’s leave allows employees to leave work temporarily to provide full-time care and attention for someone who needs it. You can take carer’s leave for a minimum of 13 weeks and up to a maximum of 104 weeks.
Carer’s leave from employment is unpaid but your job will be kept open for when you return.
You must have worked for your employer for 12 months without a break in employment. Employers are entitled to at least six weeks written notice from the employee of the intention to take carer’s leave.
The person you will be caring for must need full-time care and attention..
What is taken into account in the means test for Carer’s Allowance?
First of all, like Carer’s Benefit, you must be providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires that level of care. In addition however, you must be habitually resident in the State and pass a means test. In certain circumstances you may be eligible for Half Rate Carer’s Allowance
The main sources of income included in the means test for Carer’s Allowance are any cash income and capital income – this includes savings, investments, shares or any property you have (but not your own home).
The first €50,000 of your capital is not taken into account. Any payment from the Department of Social Protection is not included in the means test
You can get up to €14,000 per year for renting out a room in your own home without it affecting your payment.
What are the qualifying conditions for Half-Rate Carer’s?
If you are in one of the following situations you may qualify for half-rate Carer’s Allowance:
• Already getting Carer’s Allowance but also meet the qualifying criteria for another social welfare payment
• Changed from another social welfare payment to get Carer’s Allowance
• Caring for someone and being claimed for by a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant
• Getting a social welfare payment other than Carer’s Allowance and caring for someone
You cannot get half-rate Carer’s if you are in receipt of a jobseekers payment or signing for unemployment credits.
What is the Carer’s Support Grant?
The Carer’s Support Grant is paid to carers once a year by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). It is €1,850 for 2023.
It is paid once a year, usually on the first Thursday in June, for each person you are caring for. It is not taxable. You cannot be working outside the home for more than 18.5 hours or signing for Jobseeker’s Credits. You can apply for this payment even if you are not receiving Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit.
You can apply for a Carer’s Support Grant for any given year from April of that year until December 31 of the following year e.g. you can apply for the Carer’s Support Grant for 2022 at any time from April 2022 up until 31 December 2023. The grant rate for 2022 was €1,850.
Are there any additional supports available to Carer’s?
If you get Carer’s Allowance you may also get the Free Household Benefits Package (if you are living with the person you are caring for) and Free Travel.
If you get Carer’s Benefit or Carer’s Allowance, at full or half-rate, you are eligible for a GP visit card.
If the person that you are caring for passes away, your Carer’s Benefit payment will continue for six weeks following the death, while Carer’s Allowance continues for 12 weeks.
If you need further information about this issue or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in Bantry on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you.
WEST CORK HELPLINE 0818 07 8390
The offices are staffed from 10am -5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am-4pm. Alternatively you can email on firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie