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Maintenance and social welfare payments

Introduction

Men and women are required by law to maintain their dependants. Maintenance can be paid voluntarily or as a result of a maintenance order granted by the courts. More information about how to apply for and enforce maintenance is available in our document 'Maintenance orders and agreements'.

If you are applying for a social assistance payment you must satisfy a means test. All your sources of income (for example, employment, capital, cash income and maintenance) are assessed by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). This document explains how maintenance is assessed in the means test. More information on other sources of income and how they are assessed is available in our document about the means test.

Rules

Maintenance is assessed as means when you apply for the following payments:

All income from maintenance is assessed as means. This includes both maintenance for you and maintenance to you for any of your children. If you are getting maintenance from more than one person it will be added together and the total will be assessed as means. Maintenance paid to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is also taken into account as means.

Maintenance not taken into account

Your rent or mortgage repayment up to a maximum of €95.23 per week can be offset against maintenance payments. Half the balance of maintenance is then assessed as means and your social welfare payment will be reduced by that amount. You must provide proof of rent or mortgage payments.

Example

A single parent with one child is getting maintenance of €150. The maintenance order specifies €50 for the parent and €100 for the child. Rent is €100 per week.

Maintenance €150.00
Minus rent €95.23
Total €54.77
(Only half assessed as means)
Total means €27.38

Total One-Parent Family Payment €197.80
(reduced One Parent Family Payment): €168 plus €29.80 for a child dependant)

Getting a payment before 2003

If you were getting one of the payments listed above before 2003 you may qualify to have your maintenance assessed using the old rules. The Department of Social Protection provides more detailed information about these rules and the assessment of maintenance as means.

How maintenance is assessed for Rent and Mortgage Interest Supplement

In the means tests for Rent Supplement and Mortgage Interest Supplement maintenance is assessed as additional household income and maintenance payments up to €95.23 per week are assessed in full. The household income disregard (see below) applies to maintenance payments above this amount.

For example, if your only additional household income is maintenance, all of your maintenance payment up to €95.23 per week is assessed in full. The household income disregard of €75 applies to sums above this, so that any maintenance between €95.23 and €170.23 is not taken into account. 25% of all maintenance over €170.23 is also not taken into account.

Household income disregard: A certain amount of your household income is not taken into account. €75 of any additional household income is not taken into account. Additional household income is income from part-time employment or part-time self-employment, Family Income Supplement (FIS), Community Employment (CE), Back to Work Allowance, Back to Enterprise Allowance or FÁS course. Also, 25% of additional household income over €75 is not taken into account. There is no upper limit on the amount that can be disregarded.

How maintenance is assessed for Family Income Supplement

If you are getting maintenance, the total amount of your maintenance payment (including payments for children) will be assessed as income for Family Income Supplement (FIS). Only one FIS payment can be made in respect of any family. This means that if you are applying for FIS the parent from whom you are getting maintenance must not be getting FIS.

How maintenance is assessed for a child with a means-tested social assistance payment

If you are getting Jobseeker's Allowance any maintenance paid to your parent on your behalf is assessed as benefit and privilege against you. If a portion of the maintenance is paid directly to you this portion is assessed as cash income against you and the remainder which is paid to your parent is assessed as benefit and privilege.

If you are getting Disability Allowance any maintenance in the form of cash income from either parent is assessable as means.

Page updated: 1 June 2012

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.