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Carer's Allowance

Introduction

Carer's Allowance is a payment to people on low incomes who are looking after a person who needs support because of age, disability or illness (including mental illness).

If you qualify for a Carer's Allowance you may also qualify for free household benefits (if you are living with the person you are caring for) and a Free Travel Pass. Carer's Allowance is not taken into account in the assessment for a medical card.

If you consider that you have been wrongly refused Carer's Allowance, or you are unhappy about a decision of a social welfare deciding officer about your entitlements, you can appeal this decision.

Rules

To be entitled to a Carer's Allowance you must:

  • Be living with, or in a position to provide full-time care and attention to a person in need of care who does not normally live in an institution. However, you may continue to be regarded as providing full-time care and attention, if you or the person being cared for is undergoing medical or other treatment in a hospital or other institution for a period not longer than 13 weeks.
  • Be habitually resident in the State.
  • Not live in a hospital, convalescent home or other similar institution.
  • Be at least 18 years old and
  • Not be engaged in employment, self-employment, training or education courses outside the home for more than 15 hours a week. During your absence, adequate care for the person requiring full-time care and attention must be arranged.

The person you are caring for must be:

  • Over the age of 16 and so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention or
  • Aged under 16 and getting a Domiciliary Care Allowance.

The person receiving care is regarded as requiring full-time care and attention where

  • He or she is so incapacitated as to require continuous supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself or continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions, and
  • He or she is so incapacitated as to be likely to require full-time care and attention for a period of at least 12 months.

What counts as means?

Your means are any income you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant have or property (except your home) or an asset that could bring in money or provide you with an income, for example, an occupational pension or benefits from another country. Any payment made by the Department of Social Protection is not taken into account in the means test for Carer's Allowance.

Investments and savings

The actual income from investments and money in a savings account is not taken as your means. Instead, investment items such as, money in a savings account, cash-in-hand or money in a current account and the cash value of investments and property are added together and a special formula is used to work out your weekly means. Find out more about how capital is assessed in the means test for Carer's Allowance.

How means are assessed

The means test for the Carer's Allowance involves assessing your income (excluding your home). €332.50 of your gross weekly income is not taken into account (or disregarded). If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting the first €665 of your combined gross weekly income is disregarded. PRSI, union dues, superannuation (pension contributions) and travel expenses are also deducted.

If you are getting a social welfare payment from another state an amount up to the maximum rate of the Irish State Pension (Contributory) is exempt from the means test. Any foreign social welfare payment above the maximum Irish State Pension (Contributory) rate is treated as income for the means test.

If you are getting maintenance payments these are assessed (along with any other source of income) and the first €332.50 (or €665 for a couple) is disregarded.

Carer's Allowance and half-rate payments

If you are getting certain social welfare payments and you are providing full time care and attention to another person, you can keep your main social welfare payment and get half-rate Carer's Allowance as well. If you were getting another social welfare payment before claiming Carer's Allowance, you may get your original payment reinstated and also get half-rate Carer's Allowance.

If you are getting Carer's Allowance and subsequently become entitled to another payment, you can claim the other payment and get half your rate of Carer's Allowance but only if the other payment is a qualifying payment for half-rate Carer's Allowance. For example, if you are getting Carer's Allowance and work 15 hours each week, you can build up an entitlement to a contributory payment. This means, if you are out of work sick you may be entitled to Illness Benefit. In this case, you may get full-rate Illness Benefit and half-rate Carer's Allowance - although this will depend on your PRSI contributions, level of earnings and current means.

If you are being claimed for as a qualified adult on your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant’s social welfare payment and you are providing full-time care to another person, you may apply for half-rate Carer's Allowance and retain your current Increase for a Qualified Adult in full.

More information is available in our document on half-rate Carer’s Allowance.

Caring for more than one person

If you are providing care to more than one person you may be entitled to an additional 50% of the maximum rate of Carer's Allowance each week.

Care sharing

Two carers who are providing care on a part-time basis in an established pattern can also share a single Carer’s Allowance payment and the annual Respite Care Grant. Each carer must be providing care from Monday to Sunday but can do so on alternate weeks. A carer providing full-time care on a part-time basis is required under legislation to provide this care for a complete week (Monday to Sunday).

A carer who is providing care on a part-time basis to someone who attends a residential institution, for example, every other week, can also be accommodated on the Carer’s Allowance scheme.

You must meet all the usual qualifying conditions for Carer’s Allowance.

Respite Care Grant

The Respite Care Grant is automatically paid to people getting Carer's Allowance in June of each year. You can find out more in our document about the Respite Care Grant.

Tax implications

Carer's Allowance is a taxable source of income and should be advised to your local tax office.

Rates

Your payment is made up of a personal rate for yourself and extra amounts for any child dependants. Carer's Allowance has no qualified adult payment.

Carer's Allowance rates in 2014

Carer Maximum weekly rate
Aged under 66, caring for 1 person €204
Aged under 66, caring for 2 or more €306
Aged 66 or over and caring for 1 person €239
Aged 66+, caring for 2 person €358.50
Increase for a Qualified Child

€29.80 (full-rate)

€14.90 (half-rate)

You may claim a full-rate increase in your payment for a child dependant if you are a carer and are single, widowed, separated or a civil partner who is not living with the other civil partner. You may claim a half-rate increase in your payment for a child dependant if you are a carer and are living with your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant

Credits

You may get credited social insurance contributions (PRSI) while you are getting a Carer's Allowance.

How to apply

You should apply for a Carer's Allowance as soon possible. To apply fill in an application form for Carer's Allowance (CR1) (pdf). The form includes a medical report which must be signed by the person receiving care and completed by his or her doctor (a medical report is not necesary if you are caring for a child getting Domicilary Care Allowance). You also fill in a CR2 form (pdf) if you are caring for more than one person. You can contact your social welfare local office or Citizens Information Service for the form.

Note that the application form for Carer's Allowance asks for a lot of detailed information from you. The Department of Social Protection has to work out your income and the income of your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant to assess the means of your household. The Department must also examine the medical condition of the person being cared for to decide if they need full-time care and attention. In addition, the Department must be satisfied that you, the carer, are providing full-time care and attention and are able to do so. You can get help with filling in the form from your local Citizens Information Service.

There are currently some delays in processing Carer's Allowance payments and it may take some time for your application to be processed. You may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance while you are waiting for your claim to be processed.

Payment will be awarded from the date your application is received or from the date the qualifying payment is awarded, if later. Forward the completed application form with the relevant certificates to Carer's Allowance Section at the Department of Social Protection - see address below.

Carer’s Allowance and Domiciliary Care Allowance

If you are caring for a child who is getting Domiciliary Care Allowance you do not need to fill in the medical report when you apply for Carer’s Allowance. If you are getting Carer’s Allowance and Domiciliary Care Allowance on behalf of a child who is 15 years old, you will be contacted by the DSP approximately 7 weeks before their 16th birthday to review your continued entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.

If your child continues to need full-time care and attention you should send a medical report (this is part of the Carer’s Allowance form) to the DSP. If the DSP’s medical assessors find that your child meets the medical criteria you will continue to get your Carer’s Allowance payment. If your child does not meet the medical criteria your claim will be closed. You can submit more medical evidence or appeal this decision in the usual way.

Where to apply

Department of Social Protection

Carer's Allowance Section
Social Welfare Services Office
Government Buildings
Ballinalee Road
Longford
Ireland

Tel:(043) 334 0000
Locall:1890 92 77 70

Application forms are also available from your local social welfare office.

Page updated: 22 September 2014

Language

Gaeilge

Related Documents

  • Half-rate Carer's Allowance
    Half-rate Carer's Allowance is payable with certain other social welfare payments provided you meet the qualifying criteria. Find out how to qualify for half-rate Carer's Allowance.
  • Payments to carers
    Find out about the different payments and benefits for carers.
  • Carer's Benefit
    Carer's Benefit is a social insurance payment made to someone who gives up work to care for an incapacitated person.

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.