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.
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). If you are single, €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. For a couple, the combined gross weekly balance is then halved to give the carer's weekly means.
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.
If you are parenting alone and you are providing full-time care and attention to your child or another person you can claim One-Parent Family Payment and half-rate Carer’s Allowance until your youngest child turns 16 provided you continue to meet the conditions for both schemes.
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.
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.
Carer's Support Grant
The Carer's Support Grant (formerly called 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 Carer's Support Grant.
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||Maximum weekly rate|
|Aged under 66, caring for 1 person||€204.00|
|Aged under 66, caring for 2 or more||€306.00|
|Aged 66 or over and caring for 1 person||€242.00|
|Aged 66+, caring for 2 people||€363.00|
|Increase for a Qualified Child||
|Carer||Maximum weekly rate|
|Aged under 66, caring for 1 person||€209.00|
|Aged under 66, caring for 2 or more||€313.50|
|Aged 66 or over and caring for 1 person||€247.00|
|Aged 66+, caring for 2 people||€370.50|
|Increase for a Qualified Child||
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.
You may get credited social insurance contributions (PRSI) while you are getting a Carer's Allowance.
Change of circumstance
Carer's Allowance continues to be paid for 12 weeks after the death of the person being cared for.
If the person being cared for moves permanently into a residential care or nursing home the Carer's Allowance continues to be paid for a period of 12 weeks.
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
You cannot get a Carer’s Allowance for a child under 16 years of age unless Domiciliary Care Allowance is being paid on behalf of that child. In these cases, you do not need to fill in the medical report when you apply for Carer’s Allowance. If Domiciliary Care Allowance stops before the child reaches 16 years of age, Carer’s Allowance must also stop.
Carer’s Allowance may be reviewed at any time to make sure that you continue to be entitled to the payment. When initiating a review, DSP will contact you and ask you to get a medical report completed by the child’s doctor and ask you to provide recent evidence to show that the child continues to require full-time care and attention.
If the DSP find that your child meets the full-time care and attention criteria, you will continue to get your Carer’s Allowance payment. If your child no longer meets the full-time care and attention criteria, your claim will be closed. You can submit more evidence or appeal this decision in the usual way.
Where to apply
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Carer's Allowance Section
Social Welfare Services Office
Tel: (043) 334 0000 (If calling from outside the Republic of Ireland please call + 353 43 334 0000)
Locall: 1890 92 77 70 (Note: the rates charged for using 1890 (Lo-call) numbers may vary)
Application forms are also available from your local
social welfare office.