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 Carers Allowance and these rules are set out under 'Rules' below.
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.
Carer's Allowance is paid directly into your bank or building society account or by a book of payable orders, whichever you prefer. (Payable orders may be cashed each week at a Post Office chosen by you).
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 have the option of appealing this decision.
The Respite Care Grant is automatically paid to people getting Carer's Allowance in June of each year.
In order to be entitled to a Carer's Allowance:
• You must be living with, or in a position to provide full-time care and attention to a person in need of care who does not normally live in an institution. However, you may continue to be regarded as providing full-time care and attention, if you or the person being cared for is undergoing medical or other treatment in a hospital or other institution for a period not longer than 13 weeks.
• You must be resident in the State
• You must not live in a hospital, convalescent home or other similar institution
• You must be at least 18 years old and
• You must not be engaged in employment, self-employment, training or education courses outside the home for more than 15 hours a week. During your absence, adequate care for the person requiring full-time care and attention must be arranged.
The person being cared for must be:
• Over the age of 16 and so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention or
• Aged under 16 and in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance.
The person receiving care is regarded as requiring full-time care and attention where
• He or she is so incapacitated as to require continuous supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself or continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions, and
• He or she is so incapacitated as to be likely to require full-time care and attention for a period of at least twelve months.
What counts as means?
Your means are any income you or your spouse/partner 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. Find out more about how capital is assessed in the means test for Carer's Allowance.
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 a married/cohabiting couple's income (except for social welfare payments from other states, to which special rules apply), From April 2008, 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/partner’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.
More information is available in the Revenue's document on half-rate Carer’s Allowance.
Your payment is made up of a personal rate for yourself and extra amounts for your child dependants.
Carer's Allowance rates from January 2010:
Carer Maximum weekly rate
Aged under 66, caring for 1 person €212
Aged under 66, caring for 2 or more €318
Aged 66 or over and caring for 1 person €239
Aged 66 , caring for 2 person €358.50
Increase for a Qualified Child
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 or separated. You may claim half-rate increase in your payment for a child dependant if you are a carer and are living with your spouse or partner.
You may get credited social insurance contributions (PRSI).
You should apply for a Carer's Allowance as soon possible. To apply fill in an application form for Carers Allowance (pdf) or contact your local Social Welfare local office for a copy of this form.
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 and Family Affairs - see address below.
WHERE TO APPLY
Carer's Allowance Section
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Social Welfare Services Office
Tel: (043) 334 0000
Locall: 1890 927 770
Application forms are also available at your local social welfare office.