Carer’s Allowance

Carer's Allowance is a payment to people living in Ireland who are looking after someone who is in need of support because of age, physical or learning disability or illness, including mental illness. The Carer's Allowance is not payable to everyone, it is mainly aimed at carers on low incomes who live with and look after certain people who need full-time care and attention. There are rules about who may be entitled to claim Carer's Allowance and these rules are set out under 'Rules' below. You will also qualify for free household benefits (such as Free Electricity/Natural Gas/Bottled Gas Refill Allowance, Free Television Licence, Free Telephone Rental Allowance) and a Free Travel Pass. Carer's Allowance is not taken into account in the assessment for a medical card. If you consider that you have been wrongly refused Carer's Allowance, or you are unhappy about a decision of a Social Welfare Deciding Officer about your entitlements, you can appeal this decision.

Caring for more than one person
If you are providing care to more than one person you may be entitled to an additional 50% of the maximum rate of Carer's Allowance each week.

Care sharing
Two carers who are providing care on a part-time basis in an established pattern can also share a single Carer’s Allowance payment and the annual Respite Care Grant. Each carer must be providing care from Monday to Sunday but can do so on alternate weeks. A carer providing full-time care on a part-time basis is required under legislation to provide this care for a complete week (Monday to Sunday). Both carers will get the Household Benefits Package. A carer who is providing care on a part-time basis to someone who attends a residential institution, for example, every other week, can also be accommodated on the Carer’s Allowance scheme. You must meet all the usual qualifying conditions for Carer’s Allowance.

Rules
In order to be entitled to a Carer's Allowance:

The person being cared for must be:

What counts as means?
Your means are any income you or your spouse/civil partner/cohabitant have or property (except your home) or an asset that could bring in money or provide you with an income, for example, an occupational pension, pensions/benefits from another country.

Investments and savings
The actual income from investments and money in a savings account is not taken as your means. Instead, investment items such as, money in a savings account, cash-in-hand or money in a current account and the cash value of investments and property are added together and a special formula is used to work out your weekly means.

How means are assessed
The means test for the Carer's Allowance involves assessing your income (excluding your home). Since April 2008, the amount of weekly income that is not taken into account is €332.50. In the case of the income of a married couple, civil partners or cohabitants, (except for social welfare payments from other states, to which special rules apply) the first €665 of their combined weekly income is disregarded.

Carer's Allowance and half-rate payments
Since 27 September 2007, if you are getting certain social welfare payments and you are providing full time care and attention to another person, you can keep your main social welfare payment and get half-rate Carer's Allowance as well. If you were getting another social welfare payment before claiming Carer's Allowance, you may get your original payment reinstated and also get half-rate Carer's Allowance. If you are getting Carer's Allowance and subsequently become entitled to another payment, you can claim the other payment and get half your rate of Carer's Allowance but only if the other payment is a qualifying payment for half-rate Carer's Allowance. For example, if you are getting Carer's Allowance and work 15 hours each week, you can build up an entitlement to a contributory payment. This means, if you are out of work sick you may be entitled to Illness Benefit. In this case, you may get full-rate Illness Benefit and half-rate Carer's Allowance, it will depend on your PRSI contributions, level of earnings and current means. If you are being claimed for as a qualified adult on your spouse/civil partner/cohabitant’s social welfare payment and you are providing full time care to another person, you may apply for half-rate Carer's Allowance and retain your current Increase for a Qualified Adult in full.
Rates
Your payment is made up of a personal rate for yourself and extra amounts for your child dependants.
Carer's Allowance rates from January 2011:


Carer

Maximum weekly rate

Aged under 66, caring for 1 person

€204

Aged under 66, caring for 2 or more

€306

Aged 66 or over and caring for 1 person

€239

Aged 66 , caring for 2 person

€358.50

Increase for a Qualified Child

€29.80 (full-rate)
€14.90 (half-rate)

Carers Allowance has no qualified adult payment. You may claim full-rate increase in your payment for a child dependant if you are a carer and are single, widowed, separated or a civil partner who is not living with the other civil partner. You may claim half-rate increase in your payment for a child dependant if you are a carer and are living with your spouse/civil partner/cohabitant

Credits
You may get credited social insurance contributions (PRSI).

How to apply
You can get an application form in your Local Social Welfare Office or from the Carer’s Allowance Section. Or you can download the form from the Social Welfare website www.welfare.ie. Payment will be awarded from the date your application is received or from the date the qualifying payment is awarded, if later. Forward the completed application form with the relevant certificates to Carer's Allowance Section at the Department of Social Protection - see address below.

Where to apply
Department of Social Protection Carer's Allowance Section
Social Welfare Services Office
Government Buildings
Ballinalee Road
Longford
Ireland
Tel : (043) 334 0000