Social Welfare Changes – Budget 2017

October 28th, 2015 - Pat Breen

SOCIAL WELFARE
• The Basic Social Welfare rates from March 2017 are:
Adult Adult Dependent
Contributory OAP (Full Rate) e238.30 e213.50 (aged 66 or over)
Non Contributory OAP e227.00 e150.00 (aged under 66)
Contributory Widows – under 66 e198.50 —
Contributory Widows – 66 or over e238.30 —
Invalidity Pension e198.50 e141.70
Maternity Benefit e235.00 —
Supplementary Welfare e191.00 e128.10
Carer’s Allowance – under 66 e209.00
Carer’s Allowance – 66 or over e247.00
All Other Payments e193.00 e128.10
Living Alone Allowance e9.00
Over 80 Allowance e10.00

• An 85% Christmas Bonus will be paid in December 2017 to all persons on long-term (over 15 months) Welfare payments and
back-to-work/Education payments.
• CHILDREN
• Child Benefit of e140 per month is payable for all children up to their 18th birthday, if in full-time education.
• Qualified Child Payment of e29.80 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 their 22nd birthday if in full-time education.
QCP will be paid if your spouse is working and earning no more than e400.
• A Back-to-School payment of e100 for pupils aged 4-11 and e200 for pupils aged 12-22 (children aged between 18 and 22
years must be in full-time second-level education) is payable for children for whom Qualified Child Payment is made
under Social Welfare, FIS, Back to Work, Education or Training Schemes.
• Paternity Benefit for 2 weeks of e230 per week became payable for births or adoption on or after 1st September 2016.
It covers employees and the self-employed. This will rise to e235 per week in March 2017.
• 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 E1 by which your take-home family income (i.e. net of tax, USC, PRSI and superannuation)
falls below the following income thresholds for 2017:
– e511 for a family with one child, plus
– e101 for second, e101 for third, e121 for fourth, and e126 (approx) for each additional child.
If you qualify, the payment will be awarded for 52 weeks and it will be of a minimum e20 per week. If you suffer a cut in income, your FIS payment can only be adjusted at the end of that period. You may also be eligible for a Back-to-School payment from the HSE, but savings are take into account. FIS will not affect your eligibility for a Medical Card. You can claim One Parent Family Payment and your FIS is not counted as means.
• A widow(er) with children receives a once-off e6,000 in the year of bereavement. A Deceased Person’s Payment continues to be paid for six weeks to their spouse after their death (provided that their spouse is also getting a weekly welfare payment).
• The Dept of Social Protection pays Domiciliary Care Allowance of e309.50 per month and an annual Carer’s Support Grant of e1,700 up to their 16th birthday for children with a severe disability who require substantial and documented extra care.
During 2017, automatic entitlement to Medical Card will also apply. A half-rate payment is payable to a child in institutional settings who lives at home for 2 days or more. At 16, the child may apply for Disability Allowance.
• An Affordable Childcare Scheme will reduce the cost for parents by subsidising registered childcare from September 2017.
– A universal hourly subsidy worth up to e80 per month for a child aged 6 months to 36 months.
– A means-tested, tapered subsidy for a child aged 6 months up to their 15th birthday. The maximum rate of subsidy will be payable to all those with net incomes up to e22,700 per annum. Based on estimated average childcare fees, this maximum subsidy might be expected to equate to a corresponding co-payment for parents of 30 cent per hour or e12 per week for 40 hours care. The rate of subsidy will taper downwards as net income rises, with no targeted subsidy payable when net income reaches e47,500. The income thresholds increase by e3,800 for each additional eligible child.
• Free Early Childhood Care and Education is available to any child aged more than 3 years until they are 51/2 or make the transition to primary school and covers 3 hours daily. An eligible child can start in September, January or April. 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. AIM (Access Inclusion Model) supports participation by children with special needs. Preschools in partnership with parents can apply for a range of supports: extra payment to a trained Inclusion Coordinator, help with specialist equipment, expert support, therapy services, and in some cases funding for classroom support. Applications to AIM can be found on www.pobal.ie
• FUEL SCHEME: A Fuel Allowance of e22.50/week is payable for 26 weeks if you are on long-term Social Welfare with no more
than e100 per week in household income over the contributory pension rate. However, to qualify, you must be living alone, or only with dependants or another person on long-term Social Welfare or the JSA.
• Supplementary Welfare: The Community Welfare Officer may help out with the following:
• A weekly payment if you do not have enough income to meet your needs.
• A once-off exceptional need payment for unforeseen needs such as a funeral, fares to visit or attend hospital, a robbery, fire or flood;
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 incomes or in poor health; children’s
clothing in exceptional situations.
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. Decisions can be
appealed to Social Welfare Appeals Office, D’Olier House, D’Olier Street, Dublin 2 (Ph: 01-6732800; LoCall 1890 74 74 34).
• Treatment Benefit covers free dental and optical examinations and Medical and Surgical Appliances (including half the cost of hearing
aids, max e500 per aid once every 4 years) for the insured worker, their spouse and retired people who have the required number
of PRSI contributions. The range of services covered will expand in October 2017 to include glasses and additional dental treatment. Illness Benefit is only payable after the sixth day of absence.
• To qualify for the State Pension you must be 66. From 1 January 2021, the State Pension age is increasing to 67.
• Household Benefits Package: If you are 66 or over or permanently incapacitated, and living alone except for dependants, 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:
• Electricity or Natural Gas of e35 per month, and
• Free television licence.
Pensioners who don’t have a Social Welfare pension can qualify at age 66 on the same terms provided their means don’t
exceed the Contributory OAP rate by more than e100.
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. 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.
• Self employed people are now getting access to certain social protection benefits – Paternity Benefit (September 2016),
Treatment Benefit (March 2017) and Invalidity Pension (December 2017).
• A Single Parent can claim One Parent Family Allowance until your youngest child reaches 7 years of age. You can earn €110 net per week, claim FIS, and get Maintenance up to €95.23 without affecting your payment. A single parent can claim Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment up until the youngest child reaches 14. The means-test assesses 50% of earnings over €110 per week, and you can still claim part-payment if you work more than 3 days. You can claim while studying, and you will get childcare support and Back to Work Dividend if you find work.
• A single person under 25 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, e600 for a two-parent family, e470 for a single parent and e30 per child). Once you qualify for any payment, a minimum e40 per week is paid. The payment is capped at e102.70 for persons aged 18-24 and e147.80 aged 25, where they have no children. However, full rate of e193 will be paid if they take up a scheme or Back to Education Allowance.
• The duration of Jobseeker’s Benefit is 9 months (6 months for those with less than 260 paid contributions).
• Back to Work Family Dividend allows you retain the Qualified Child weekly payment of e29.80 for up to 4 children, if you (and your partner) sign off welfare payments after being a claimant for at least 12 months. You may also qualify for FIS. BTWFD won’t count as means in the FIS test or for rent supplement.