Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability, who requires ongoing care and attention, substantially over and above the care and attention usually required by a child of the same age. It is not means tested.
You can find the definitions for terms such as severe or substantially in the DCA Medical Guidelines (pdf). These are used by the Department of Social Protection when it is assessing applications for DCA. The guidelines state that the payment is not based on the type of disability but on the resulting physical or mental impairment which means that the child requires substantially more care and attention than another child of the same age.
The DCA scheme was administered by the Health Service Executive before it was transferred to the Department of Social Protection in 2009.
You can also read the information leaflet for DCA (SW127). The leaflet is available from your Intreo centre or Citizens Information Service.
To qualify, the child must have a severe disability that is likely to last for at least 1 year and:
In addition, the person claiming the allowance for the child must:
The legislation states that to qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance a child must have "a severe disability requiring continual or continuous care and attention substantially in excess of the care and attention normally required by a child of the same age".
This means that eligibility for Domiciliary Care Allowance is not based on the type of impairment or disease, but on the resulting lack of function of body or mind which means the child needs extra care and attention. This care and attention must be required to allow the child to deal with the activities of daily living. The child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months.
The Department's Medical Assessor looks at all the following before giving an opinion on whether your child meets the medical criteria:
Children who are being cared for on a full-time basis in residential homes or other institutions are not eligible for the allowance. However, children in residential care who go home may receive a half-rate payment if they are at home for 2 days or more a week, for example, a child who attends residential services from Monday to Friday and goes home at weekends.
The Domiciliary Care Allowance rate is €309.50 per month.
There is no restriction on the number of children for whom you may claim Domiciliary Care Allowance. (In other words, if you are caring for more than 1 child who qualifies for Domiciliary Care Allowance, you may claim the monthly allowance for each).
Payment is made on the third Tuesday of every month for the current month.
Payment may continue for up to 13 weeks if the child is getting medical or other treatment in hospital.
Your entitlement to Child Benefit is not affected and you may qualify for Carer's Benefit or Carer's Allowance if you meet the other conditions. People getting DCA do not need to fill out the medical form when applying for Carer's Allowance.
You can also claim a Respite Care Grant, which is paid automatically each year during the month of June.
To apply, fill in a Domiciliary Care Allowance form (pdf). You can also get an application form by texting “FORM DCA” followed by your name and address to 51909 (standard text rates apply) or by dropping into your Intreo centre or social welfare local office or local Citizens Information Service.
You should complete Parts 1 to 5 of the form. Please ask your child’s GP/specialist to fill in parts 6 and 7 (the medical section) of the form. You should also attach any reports or other information you have about your child’s disability and the impact it has on their care needs.
Note: If your child has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) you are advised to have the medical professional/specialist dealing with your child complete an additional medical form called DomCare3 (pdf). (Please note that completion of this form is optional since medical professionals may have already provided a comprehensive report on your child’s medical condition and care needs. However, if you do not have a recent report from your child’s treating medical professional, the DomCare3 form can provide useful additional information.)
The completed form will detail your child’s conditions, any specific care needs your child might have as a result of their disability and will help the Department’s medical assessor to form an opinion on eligibility. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterised by delays in the development of socialisation and communication skills. Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett’s Syndrome are generally referred to under this category.
What happens when my child reaches the age of 16?
DCA stops when a child reaches 16 so your last DCA payment will be for the month of their 16th birthday. The Department of Social Protection will write to you 3 months before your child’s 16th birthday to remind you that DCA will shortly stop and tell you about the available options.
At age 16, your child can apply in their own right for Disability Allowance (DA). DA is a means-tested payment for people with disabilities who as a result of their disability are substantially restricted in undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable for a person of their age, experience and qualifications. The qualifying conditions for DA are different from the qualifying conditions for DCA, so your child is not automatically entitled to DA because DCA was in payment. The means test for Disability Allowance assesses the means of your child and your income is not taken into account.
Your child should apply a few months before they turn 16, to allow time for their application to be processed. Your entitlement to a Carer's Allowance will also stop when DCA stops. You can re-apply for Carer's Allowance but you will have a fresh assessment.
If your application is refused, you may submit additional information and ask for the decision to be reviewed. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of this review or wish to appeal directly without a review, you can appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.
Your application form and supporting documentation should be sent to:
Social Welfare Services Office
Department of Social Protection
Tel:(071) 915 7100
Locall:1890 500 000
You can email the Domiciliary Care Allowance section using the secure enquiry form. If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information centre, social welfare local office or Intreo centre.
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.