Social Welfare Changes – Budget 2010

December 21st, 2009 - Pat Breen

• The Basic Social Welfare rates from January 2010 are:
Adult Adult Dependent
Contributory OAP (Full Rate) €230.30 €206.30 (aged 66 or over)
Non Contributory OAP €219.00 €144.70 (aged 66 or over)

Contributory Widows – under 66 €201.50 —
Contributory Widows – 66 or over €230.30 —
Invalidity Pension €201.50 €143.80
All Other Payments €196.00 €130.10
Living Alone Allowance €7.70
Over 80 Allowance €10.00

• Children
• Child Benefit is paid for all children (€150.00 month for the fi rst two,€187.00 for others) up to their 16th birthday, or 17th
birthday if in full-time education or with a disability. A 50% higher rate is payable for twins.
• Child Dependent Allowance of €29.80 is paid to persons on Social Welfare up to the end of the academic year in which the child
reaches 18. A person on social welfare for over 26 weeks can claim up to 22nd birthday if in full-time education. Full rate CDA
will continue to be paid if your spouse is working and earning no more than €220, half rate for earnings up to €400.
• At 18, a single person living at home who has left school can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance, but will be assessed with
34% of their parents’ disposable income (after deduction of tax, PRSI, superannuation, mortgage/rent, Health Insurance, Union
Fees and €600 couple (€470 single parent) and €30 per child). Once you qualify for any payment, a minimum €40.00 per
week is paid. For new claimants if you are under 22, payment is capped at €100 and under 25 at €150 per week, unless you
are in training, on Back to Education Allowance or coming off Job Seeker’s Benefi t. No assessment of your parents’ income
applies if you are 25 or over. If you have been living independently for at least three years, the maximum assessment of parents’
income is €7 per week.
• In the year of bereavement a widow(er) with children receives a once off €6,000, in addition the standard Bereavement Grant
of €850 is payable. Widow(er)s are eligible for half rate unemployment or sickness benefi ts for a maximum 15 months on a claim.
• The HSE pays Domiciliary Care Allowance €309.50 per month and an annual respite grant of €1,700 up to their 16th birthday
for children with a disability who require considerable extra care. A payment of €35 per week is payable to persons resident in
institutional settings who do not have Disability Allowance.
• An Orphan qualifi es for €169 per week (may be contributory or means tested).
• Free Pre School Year for one year replaces the axed Early Childhood Supplement from January 2010. Any child born between
2nd February 2005 and 30th June 2006 is eligible to enrol:
• Playschool for 3 hours daily for 38 weeks,
• Childcare for 2 hours 15 minutes daily for 50 weeks.
A pre-school cannot charge parents extra for the hours covered by the scheme, but can charge for extra hours or for additional
activities as long as these are optional.

• Part-Time Working
• A Lone Parent can earn €146.50 per week (after Pension Contributions and PRSI) without affecting their entitlement to One
Parent Family Payment. Between €146.50 and €425 payment is reduced by 50c for each euro of earnings. Over €425, a 6
month half-rate transitional payment is payable. Up to €95.23 of Maintenance is disregarded where there are housing
payments to be met, thereafter half of the payment is assessed.
• A person on Jobseeker’s Benefi t loses one sixth of their payment for each day they work. A person on Jobseeker’s
Allowance will have 60% of their daily earnings over €20 deducted from their total weekly payment. In
both cases, you get no payment if you work more than 3 days.
• A person claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance whose spouse is working will be paid the rate for a claimant and an adult
dependent less 60% of their spouse’s earnings (after deduction of pension contribution, PRSI and union subscriptions) in
excess of €60 per week.
• Workers must record 104 paid contributions before establishing eligibility for Jobseeker’s and Illness Benefi t.
Jobseeker claims are restricted to 12 months (9 months if under 260 paid contributions) and Illness claims to 2 years. You must
then apply for Assistance or work 13 weeks before making a fresh Benefi t Claim.
From 2010 Jobseeker’s Allowance is cut to to €150 if a job offer or activation measure is refused.
• Back to Work Enterprise Allowance can be claimed by a person who has been unemployed or on Sickness benefi t for at least 12 months, when you start a business. It allows you retain part of your Social Welfare payments, tax free, for 2 years (100%, 75%).
• Work Placement for Nine Months is organised by Fás, including a separate stream for graduates (level 7+,
including 2009 graduates). Anyone who is out of work may apply. A Short-Term Enterprise Allowance can be claimed
by anyone who has been made redundant or who is eligible for Jobseekers Benefi t. It allows you to retain benefi t until it expires
(max 12 months). If you have been on social welfare for at least three months, you can retain your payment and secondary benefi ts but the placement will not extend the duration of your entitlements.
• Fuel Scheme: A Smokeless Fuel Allowance of €3.90/week is payable for 30 weeks if you are on Social Welfare for at least 13 weeks with no more than €100 per week in household income over the contributory pension rate. However, to qualify, you must be living alone, or only with dependents or another person on long-term social welfare or on UA. If you are on a long-term Social Welfare payment you will get additional Fuel Allowance of €20/week, bringing the total to €23.90.
• Family Income Supplement: A couple or a single parent on low pay, who work for at least 19 hours per week combined (including job-sharers) can get a supplement for their children (including those 18-22 in full-time education). The payment is calculated at 60c for each €1 by which your take home pay (i.e. net of tax, PRSI levies and superannuation) falls below the following income:
– €506.00 for a family with one child, plus
– €96 for second, €101 for third, €121 for fourth, and €126 (approx) for each other child.
If you qualify, the payment will last at least 52 weeks it will be of a minimum €20 per week and also entitles you to a back-to-school payment from the HSE, the smokeless fuel allowance, and will not affect your eligibility for a medical card. A person on One Parent Family Allowance may apply but FIS will be treated as income in your means test.
• Supplementary Welfare: The Community Welfare Offi cer in the HSE may help out with the following:

• A weekly payment if you are sick or unemployed and have not received Social Welfare.
• A supplement for milk-free, gluten free, high protein or liquidized diets can be paid, calculated as the assigned cost of the diet
(about €70) less one third (one sixth in the case of a couple) of the applicant’s current income. Exceptional heating supplement
can be paid in exceptional medical circumstances.
• A back-to-school payment of €200 for primary pupils, €305 for secondary pupils and an equal payment for a Communion or
Confi rmation payable to persons on Social Welfare whose weekly income is not more than €150 over the weekly
contributory pension rate.
• A once-off payment for unforeseen needs such as a funeral, fares to visit or attend hospital, a robbery, fi re or fl ood; or for
unaffordable essential needs such as: furniture or kitchen equipment when setting up home; needs associated with pregnancy
and a new baby; clothing or replacing essential equipment for older people on low income or in poor health.
• Help if the repayment schedule sought by the ESB/Gas to sort out a serious arrear causes excessive hardship.
• A Money Advice and Budgeting Service is available to advice on indebtedness, and can help restructure debts. (Telephone MABS, Ennis Office 065 6841991 or Shannon Office 061 360422)

In assessing eligibility, the CWO takes into account all income coming into the house including part-time earnings of a spouse and
income of other adults. Full-time students and persons working over 30 hours are not generally eligible.

• Treatment Benefi t: Will be reduced during 2010 for insured workers (and their spouse) who will only qualify for free dental, optical
examinations and Medical and Surgical Appliances scheme. To qualify you still must have:
• 260 paid contributions (or if under 25 years, 39 paid will suffi ce) and
• 26 contributions paid or credited in the tax year before last or the year previous and you have at least 13 paid in at least one of
the last four tax years.
Carers, pensioners and those on Social Welfare for over 12 months do not need to meet the “13 paid” condition. Survivors retain
entitlement for life regardless of the age of the deceased spouse at death. Dependent Spouses who take up employment will retain
entitlement until qualifi ed in their own right. Persons who qualify at age 60 retain entitlement for life.
• Free Schemes: If you are 66 or over or permanently incapacitated, and living alone except for dependents, a spouse
on Social Welfare, another pensioner, or someone giving you full-time care, you can receive the following concessions along with
your Irish or British Social Welfare Pension:
• €516 towards annual gas or electricity bills which covers either:
– ESB Standing Charges plus 2,400 units per year; or
– Natural Gas supply charge and 500 kwh (winter), 58 kwh (summer); and
• Free Colour Television Licence; and
• Telephone Allowance of €40.82 per 2 monthly bill (which can be used for mobile phones).
Pensioners who don’t have a Social Welfare pension can qualify at age 66 on the same terms provided their gross income does
not exceed €268.40 (single); €276.10 (single – living alone); €949.40 (married).
If you are aged 70 or over, you can qualify for all of these free schemes regardless of your income or its source and regardless
of who lives with you and you can now get telephone allowance while residing in a nursing home. If you are widowed and aged 60
or over, you can retain the free schemes and free travel if your late spouse had them, and you satisfy the other conditions.
• Partial Social Welfare Pension may be paid if:
– you have a yearly average of at least 10 class A stamps since you fi rst entered insurance (50%-75% Pensions).
– you have pre-1953 stamps, provided that when you value 2 pre-1953 paid contributions as equivalent to 3 post-1953,
you can reach 260 paid in total (50% pension).
– If you have a mixed Class A and Public Service record which together reach a yearly average of at least 10
contributions, provided you have at least 260 paid at Class A (Proportion of Pension = Class A as % of the total).
– If you have a mixed Irish and EU (US, Canada, Australia etc.) record which together reach a yearly average of at
least10 contributions, provided you have at least 52 paid or credited at Class A in Ireland and 260 paid in the countries
combined. (Proportion of Pension = Irish as % of total).
– If you pass a means test for reduced rate Non-Contributory Old Age Pension. In this means-test, the fi rst €20,000 (each) of
savings are disregarded, the next successive €10,000 (each) slices are valued at €1/week and €2/week per
€1,000 respectively and the balance at €4/week per €1,000. Income from insurable employment of up to €200/week is also
disregarded. The fi rst €30 of calculated means is also disregarded.
Since 1994, up to 20 years spent caring for children or incapacitated adults are disregarded when a persons social insurance
record is being averaged for pension purposes, but such “home makers” must still meet the minimum contributions necessary to
qualify for a pension.
• EDUCATION
If you have been on Social Welfare you can get Back to Education Allowance (from Department of Social and Family Affairs) or
a VTOS Allowance (VEC), if you are undertaking a full-time course leading to a recognised certifi cate at Second, Third or further
education, and are:
• at least 21 years of age (18 if on a long-term Disability payment, or if out of education for at least 2 years) and
• on Social Welfare for 3 months or more (for Second Level), 12 months or more (for Third Level), reduced to 9 if on
Employment Action plan. To pass this test, periods of claim may be linked if there is no more than a 52 week gap in between.
If you qualify you get welfare payment plus €500 at start of year (BTEA) or a weekly training allowance €31.80 (VTOS).
From 2010 new applicants for these schemes will no longer be eligible for Third Level Grants for PLC courses.
The Partnership Companies also offer some support with bus fares, books etc., to students living within their catchment, whose
parents are on Social Welfare. The Colleges also have access to a Student Assistance Fund for students in need of support and
students with disabilities.
Third Level Grants are available from Clare VEC (Tel. 065 6828107) for full-time courses. To qualify for a full grant and no registration fee
your parents gross income in the previous year must be under €41,110 (up to 3 children). Above that there is partial
entitlement up to €51,380 where the registration fee (€1,500) alone is covered. A second student at third level adds
about €5,000 to these limits. The grant is worth €3,420 (living over 15miles form College), €1,370 (adjacent), but is being cut
by 5% from Jan 2010.