Case study: Maximising a couple's income from jobseeker's payments

Mary is working and earning €224 a week. Her days at work have been reduced permanently to 3 days. She has an entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB). As her days at work are permanently reduced she will be assessed for JB as a part-time worker and not a systematic short-time worker.

John has been out of work for some time and his JB claim has come to an end. He has applied for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA). He has been offered a part-time job and will be working 2 days and earning €100 each week.

John and Mary have 2 children aged 7 and 12. They have no assessable means other than that from employment.

What social welfare payments can John and Mary claim and which payments will maximise their household income?

Answer

In the case of Mary and John, you must do 4 separate calculations to find out which social welfare payment or combination of payments will maximise their income.

You must calculate their social welfare entitlement based on the 4 following situations:

  1. John claims JA for the whole family – see ‘Assessment 1’ below
  2. Mary claims JB for the whole family – see ‘Assessment 2’ below
  3. John claims JA and Mary claims Family Income Supplement (FIS) – see ‘Assessment 3’ below
  4. John and Mary claim separate social welfare payments: John claims JA and Mary claims JB – see ‘Assessment 4’ below.

Assessment 1: John claims JA for the family

Personal rate €193

IQA* rate €128.10

IQC** rate €59.60 (for 2 children)

Total €380.70

Less means €98.00 (from Mary’s employment – see Note 1 below)

Less means €36 (from John’s employment – see Note 2 below)

Total JA for John €246.70

*Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA)

** Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC)

Total income for Assessment 1:

Add their sources of income together to find their total income:

John’s JA + Mary’s income from work + John’s income from work = total income €246.70 + €224 + €100 = €570.70

Total income = €570.70

Assessment 2: Mary claims JB for the family

Personal rate €193

IQA €128.10 (not reduced as John’s earnings are only €100)

IQC €59.60 (for 2 children)

Total JB €380.70

However, because Mary is working part-time 3 days each week, she is only eligible to claim for JB for 2 days. She will get two-fifths (40%) of €380.70.

Mary’s JB payment is €152.28 payment for 3 days of unemployment.

Total income for Assessment 2:

Add their sources of income together to find their total income:

Mary’s JB + Mary’s income from work + John’s income from work = total income

€152.28 + €224 + €100 = €476.28

Total income = €476.28

Assessment 3: John claims JA and Mary claims FIS

1. John’s JA claim:

Personal rate €193

No IQA

Half-rate IQC €29.80 (for 2 children)

Total €222.80

Less means €49 (half Mary’s means – see Note 1 and 3 below)

Less means €18 (half John’s means – see Note 2 and 3 below)

Total JA for John €155.80

2. Mary’s FIS claim:

Add their assessable income together:

Mary’s income from work* €224 John’s income from work* €100

John’s JA payment €155.80

Total assessable income €479.80

*Income from work less disregards

FIS limit for couple with 2 children €612
Less family’s assessable income €479.80
€132.20

60% of 132.20 = €79.32

FIS payment for Mary = €80 (rounded up)

Total income for Assessment 3:

Add their sources of income together to find their total income:

Mary’s FIS payment + Mary’s income from work + John’s income from work + John’s JA payment = total income

€80 + €224 + €100 + €155.80 = €559.80

Total income = €559.80

Assessment 4: John and Mary claim separate jobseeker’s payments

1. John’s JA claim for himself only:

Personal rate €193

No IQA

Half IQC €29.80 (for 2 children)

Total €222.80

Less means €49 (half Mary’s means – see Note 1 and 3 below)

Less means €18 (half John’s means – see Note 2 and 3 below)

Total JA for John €155.80

2. Mary’s JB claim for herself only:

Personal rate €193

No IQA

Half IQC €29.80 (for 2 children)

Total JB €222.80

However, because she is working part-time 3 days each week, she will get two fifths of €222.80.

Mary’s JB payment is €89.12 - payment for 3 days of unemployment.

Maximum payment rule:

Where separate payments are being claimed you must allow for maximum payment in your calculation – see Note 4 below.

€155.80 + €222.80 = €378.60, this amount is not greater than the maximum payment of €380.70, so John’s JA payment will not be reduced.

Total income for Assessment 4:

Add their sources of income together to find their total income:

John’s JA payment + John’s income from work + Mary’s JB payment + Mary’s income from work = total income

€155.80 + €100 + €89.12 + €224 = €568.92

Total income = €568.92

Conclusion

In this case study, the family are very slightly better off with Assessment 1 (John claims JA for the whole family). However Assessment 4 (John and Mary claim separate jobseeker payments) might be better since both partners are eligible for training and education schemes in their own right.

Note 1

Mary’s means from work for John’s JA assessment are calculated as follows:

Income from work of €224 less €20 for each day worked up to a maximum of €60 (3 days). 60% of the balance is assessed as means.

€224 - €60 = €164

60% of €164 = €98 (rounded off)

Mary’s means are calculated as €98

Note 2

John’s means from work for JA are calculated as follows:

1. Calculate John’s average daily earnings:

Get his total weekly assessable earnings from employment and divide by the number of days he worked that week.

Total weekly earnings ÷ number of days worked = average daily earnings.

€100 ÷ 2 = €50

2. Next calculate John’s daily means from work

First disregard any income not taken into account. Income not taken into account is €20 for each day worked up to a maximum of €60 (3 days). Then 60% of the balance is assessed as means.

Average daily earnings - €20 = total

Total x 60% = daily means from work.

€50 – €20 = 30

30 x 60% = €18

3. Finally, find John’s weekly means from work

Multiply his daily means by the number of days worked.

Daily means from work x number of days worked = weekly means from work.

€18 x 2 = €36

John’s means are assessed as €36

Note 3

Joint means are halved if spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is:

  • Getting a social welfare payment (except Child Benefit, Early Childcare Supplement, Disablement Pension, a guardian's payment, Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Domiciliary Care Allowance or half-rate Carer's Allowance)
  • On a Further Education and Training (FET) course or on a VTOS course and getting an allowance in their own right

Mary’s means from work is €98 – see ‘Note 1’ above. John’s means from work is €36 – see ‘Note 2’ above.

In Assessments 3 and 4 the couples combined means is halved because both are getting social welfare payments. In Assessment 3 Mary is getting FIS and John is getting JA. In Assessment 4 Mary is getting JB and John is getting JA.

As a result, Mary’s means is €49 and John’s means is €18 for Assessments 3 and 4.

Note 4

Maximum payment rule:

If one of a couple is claiming Jobseeker's Allowance and the other is getting of one of the social welfare payments listed below, the total amount paid to the couple cannot exceed the maximum amount paid to one person (including dependants) on one social welfare payment. However, you can choose the higher-rate payment as the primary payment.

  • Illness Benefit
  • Disablement Pension (when paid with Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement)
  • Injury Benefit
  • Invalidity Pension
  • State Pension (Non-Contributory)
  • State Pension (Contributory)
  • Jobseeker's Benefit
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pre-Retirement Allowance (PRETA)
  • Farm Assist

Where the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of a JA claimant is getting JB, the Department of Social Protection assesses the maximum payment based on the premise that the person is fully unemployed. This means, if the claimant is getting a reduced JB (for example 2 days JB) because they are working, they will be assessed as though they are getting full-rate JB.

In the case study above the maximum payment for the family is: Personal rate + IQA + IQC (full rate for 2 children) = maximum payment for the family

€193 + €128.10 + €59.60 = €380.70

In Assessment 4 of the case study, John’s JA payment and Mary’s JB payment combined are less than the maximum payment for the family, as a result, there is no change to John’s JA payment.

If Mary and John’s combined JA and JB payment was greater than the maximum payment for the family, John’s JA payment would be reduced by the difference.

Page edited: 11 April 2017