Entitlements and schemes you may not realise you are eligible to claim for
There are many different social welfare payments available to people living in Ireland and all have different eligibility criteria. Some such as Child Benefit are available to the majority of people with children, while others are benefits based on your PRSI contributions and others are means tested.
To people unfamiliar with the system it can be very confusing. According to Fiona Kearney an Information Officer in the Clonmel Citizens Information Centre, it can result in some people not claiming payments which they would be eligible to receive. She gives some examples as follows:
Working Family Payment (WFP) is a weekly tax- free payment available to employees with children who meet the eligibility conditions. It gives extra financial support to people on low pay who work at least 38 hours a fortnight.
You must be an employee to qualify for WFP and you cannot qualify if you are only self-employed.
Fiona gives an example that if your household’s income after tax was €600 per week and you have three dependent children, you could get a €85.80 top up per week under the Working Family Payment. A lot of people may not be aware of this.
The Carer’s Support Grant is an annual payment made to carers by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). Carers can use the grant in whatever way they wish. Many people who are eligible do not claim this annual grant.
Fiona says that the Carer’s Support Grant has increased to €1,850 this year from €1,700 previously. She added that “It is available to a person who is caring for someone else on a full-time basis and not working outside the home for more than 18.5 hours per week. It is not necessary to be in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit to claim this grant. It is also not means-tested. “We encounter people who are caring full-time for an elderly parent or they may be retired themselves and caring for their spouse. They may have a good standard of living and savings and not be eligible for Carer’s Allowance, which is means- tested. However, they can apply for the Carer’s Support Grant, which is paid once a year, usually on the first Thursday in June for those who are eligible. It is not a taxable payment”
Citizens Information also get calls from people in their late 60s, who have passed the State Pension age, paid their contributions, but are continuing to work. According to Fiona, some of these people do not realise that you can claim your pension from 66 even if you’re still working. Also that if you are on the means –tested State Pension (Non- Contributory), you can earn €200 each week if you are an employee (not self- employed) and it will not impact on your pension amount.
There have been improvements to the Treatment Benefit Scheme which is available to workers (both employees and self- employed) and retired people who have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions. The amount of PRSI contributions that you need depends on your age.
Since 27 March 2021, you can get the full cost of a hearing aid up to a maximum of €500 or €1,000 for a pair. Before that date, you had to pay at least half the cost of a hearing aid and repairs. For example, if a hearing aid costs €600, you now only pay €100 for one aid or €200 for a pair. The scheme also covers the full cost of repairs to aids, up to a maximum of €100.
Some people may not be aware that if you do not have enough PRSI contributions of your own, you may be able to qualify using your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant’s PRSI record.
There are people who may be eligible for a medical card but they are reluctant to apply as the income thresholds for people aged under 70 seem very low. However, Citizens Information point out that while they would appear low, you can add on things like mortgage payments, reasonable travel expenses to work, and so you can increase the income threshold by including allowable expenses. CIS staff will be happy to assist with any queries you may have in relation to form filling.
Further information in relation to all of the above schemes is available from your local Citizens Information Centre. A drop in service is not available at present, however staff will help you over the phone or by email, and in some circumstances an appointment can be made if necessary.
To check if you are eligible for these or any other schemes contact Clonmel Citizens Information Centre: 0761 07 6460 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tipperary Citizens Information Centre 0761 07 6540 email@example.com Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.00pm. Further details available at www.citizensinformation.ie