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One-Parent Family Payment

Information

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is a payment for men and women under 66 who are bringing children up without the support of a partner. To get this payment you must meet certain conditions and you must satisfy a means test.

One-Parent Family Payment is a taxable source of income.

Budget 2015

It was announced in Budget 2015 that a new Back to Work Family Dividend will be introduced for lone parent and long-term jobseeker families with children who find or return to work from January 2015. The Increase for a Qualified Child of €29.80 per week will be paid in full for the first year in employment and half that amount will be paid weekly for the second year. It can be paid in addition to Family Income Supplement (FIS). It is expected that the Back to Work Family Dividend will start in April 2015 and will open for applications in January 2015.

It was also announced in November 2014 that the income disregards for One-Parent Family Payment will not reduce in 2015 and the income disregard will remain at €90. This means that you can earn up to €90 per week and qualify for the full One-Parent Family Payment. Half the remainder of your gross earnings up to €425 per week is assessed as means.

Rules

To qualify for a One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) you must:

  • Be under 66 (at 66 you become eligible for a State pension)
  • Be the parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of a relevant child (this means a child under the relevant age limit - see below)
  • Be the main carer of at least one relevant child and that child must live with you. OFP is not payable if the parents have joint equal custody of a child or children.
  • Have earnings of €425 or less per week
  • Satisfy a means test
  • Be habitually resident (certain people, in particular EU nationals who are considered migrant workers, are exempt from the habitual residence condition)
  • Not be living with a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting

If you are separated, divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved you must:

  • Have been living apart from your spouse or civil partner for at least 3 months
  • Have made efforts to get maintenance from your spouse or civil partner (if your civil partner is the parent of the child/ren)
  • Be inadequately maintained by your spouse or civil partner (if your civil partner is the parent of the child/ren)

If your spouse or civil partner is in prison:

  • He/she must have been sentenced to at least six months in prison or have spent at least six months in custody.

If you were not married to the parent of your child/children you do not need to seek maintenance from the other parent when you first claim OFP. However you must make efforts to seek maintenance from the other parent to continue to be eligible for OFP.

You can read more about what making an effort to seek maintenance means for separated parents and for unmarried parents. See also 'Liability to maintain family' below.

Income from maintenance

All income from maintenance is assessed as means. This includes maintenance for you and maintenance to you for any of your children. If you are getting maintenance from more than one person all the payments are added together and the total is assessed as means. However, only half of your income from maintenance will be deducted from your OFP. If you have housing costs, your rent or mortgage repayment up to a maximum of €95.23 per week can be offset against maintenance payments. Half the balance is then assessed as means. You must provide proof of rent or mortgage payments. You can get more information on how maintenance is assessed as means.

Liability to maintain family

Men and women are required, under the law, to pay maintenance to a dependent spouse, civil partner or former cohabitant and any dependent children who are not living with them. These people are called 'liable relatives'. If you are a liable relative and fail to pay enough maintenance to your ex-spouse, ex-civil partner or former cohabitant and dependent child(ren), you must contribute to the cost of the One-Parent Family Payment, which is paid to your family.

The Maintenance Recovery Unit of the Department of Social Protection will contact the liable relative if they have not paid enough maintenance. You can contact the Maintenance Recovery Unit on (071) 967 2599 for more information. You can also find out more about ‘Liability to Maintain Family’.

One-Parent Family Payment and EU Regulations

From 5 May 2005, EU citizens, EEA citizens and Swiss nationals who are employed or self-employed in Ireland and who are paying into the Irish social insurance system do not have to meet the habitual residence criteria to qualify for One-Parent Family Payment.

One-Parent Family Payment and Deserted Wife's Benefit

If you had to transfer from Deserted Wife’s Benefit to One-Parent Family Payment to be accepted as a participant on a Community Employment Scheme, you can now apply to have your entitlement to Deserted Wife's Benefit restored. While Deserted Wife's Benefit is closed to new applicants, it is still paid to those who had qualified for it before 2 January 1997.

The maximum weekly rate of payment for Deserted Wife’s Benefit is higher than the maximum weekly rate of payment for One-Parent Family Payment. If you qualify to have your entitlement to Deserted Wife’s Benefit restored you may also be due arrears.

Age limit for a relevant child

To get a One-Parent Family Payment you must have at least one relevant child below the relevant age limit.

The age limit is being gradually reduced to 7 years of age. This reduction to the age limit is being applied to new and existing customers on a phased basis.

Over the period 2012 to 2015 your entitlement to One Parent Family Payment depends on:

  • When your initial claim for One-Parent Family Payment was made and
  • The age of your youngest child
In 2012 4 July 2013 3 July 2014 2 July 2015
Date of claim Age threshold reduces to:
1. If your claim started before 27 April 2011 payment will continue until your youngest child reaches: 18 17 16 7
2. If your claim started between 27 April 2011 and 2 May 2012 payment will continue until your youngest child reaches: 14 12 10 7
3. If your claim started on or after 3 May 2012 payment will continue until your youngest child reaches: 12 10 7

Examples

Mary started her claim before 27 April 2011. Her youngest child turns 11 in September 2012. This means that Mary's payment will cease from 2 July 2015 when the age limit drops to 7.

Magda started her claim after 3 May 2012. Her youngest child is 9 in September 2012. She retained the payment until her youngest child’s 10th birthday in September 2013. From this date she was no longer eligible for the payment.

Exceptions to the age limits

The end date of a payment is based on the information available on the current claim. If you had an earlier OFP claim prior to your current one the limits that applied to your earlier claim may apply to you. You should contact your local Intreo centre or social welfare local office without delay if you were previously getting a One-Parent Family Payment for 52 continuous weeks and you had terminated your claim for OFP because:

  • You were taking part in the Back to Education Allowance scheme or a Community Employment scheme or
  • Your income from earnings was in excess of the amount allowed

Domiciliary Care Allowance

If you are getting Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) for a child, then OFP will continue until the child reaches 16 or DCA stops. You will also get an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) for any other children in the family until they reach 18 (or 22 if in full-time education) while DCA (and OFP) is in payment.

Death of a spouse, partner or civil partner

If you are a new claimant and you are parenting alone because of the death of your spouse, partner or civil partner you may get OFP for 2 years from the date of death provided your youngest child is under 18. You cannot be paid OFP after your youngest child reaches 18 even if that is less than 2 years after the date of death.

What happens when my One Parent Family payment ends?

The Department of Social Protection (DSP) will inform you of the date of termination of your payment and will outline options under other schemes and supports which may be available to you. The document Transition from One-Parent Family Payment also outlines your options.

In all cases you can get more information and advice about your options from your local Intreo centre or social welfare local office or Citizens Information Centre.

One-Parent Family Payment and work

You can work and get One-Parent Family Payment. The amount of payment you get depends on your weekly means.

Income disregards

  • From January 2014 the first €90 of your gross weekly earnings is not taken into account (or disregarded). This means that you can earn up to €90 per week and qualify for the full One-Parent Family Payment.
  • Half the remainder of your gross earnings up to €425 per week is assessed as means. If you earn between €90 and €425 per week you may qualify for a reduced payment. SW 19 Social Welfare Rates of Payment booklet shows the amount of OPF payable with your means.

Social insurance contributions, superannuation/PRSA contributions and trade union subscriptions are not taken into account in the assessment of earnings. However, your gross earnings must be below €425 before any deductions are allowed.

Additional supports

You may qualify for Family Income Supplement (FIS), if you are working for at least 19 hours a week (38 hours a fortnight). You can continue to claim One-Parent Family Payment and your FIS payment is not counted as means. Find out more about Family Income Supplement.

If you want to become self-employed, you may qualify for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. People on One-Parent Family Payment are also eligible for JobBridge - the National Internship Scheme.

From 16 January 2012 new participants on CE schemes cannot get OFP at the same time. However if you take part in a CE scheme and return immediately to OFP from the CE scheme your entitlement is based on your original start date.

If your pay from work is reduced

You may be entitled to an increase in your One-Parent Family Payment if your pay is reduced. To get an increase in your One-Parent Family Payment send a current payslip (showing your reduced pay) with a letter from your employer, confirming your new work situation, to the Intreo centre or social welfare local office dealing with your claim.

If your pay is reduced and you are getting Family Income Supplement (FIS), your FIS payment will stay the same. If the number of hours you work each week is reduced to below 19 hours (38 hours per fortnight) you are no longer entitled to FIS. You should notify the FIS section if the hours you work fall below the minimum requirement.

You may be entitled to an increase in your Rent Supplement. If you rent from a local authority or housing association you should contact them to find out if you are entitled to a reduction in your rent. If you are not getting a medical card or GP visit card you should find out if you now qualify.

Credited contributions

If you were receiving Maternity Benefit immediately before getting OFP you will get credited contributions. You can read more about credited contributions in the Operational Guidelines for OFP.

One Parent Family Payment and education or training

You will need to assess whether it is more beneficial for you to transfer from the One-Parent Family Payment to the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) when you go back to education or to remain on your current payment and apply for a student grant.

From 4 July 2013 if you returned to education and had opted to keep your One-Parent Family Payment (instead of BTEA) you may be admitted to BTEA ‘mid-course’ if you no longer qualify for OFP because of recent changes in the age limits. However you cannot get BTEA and a student grant together. Read more in our document on social welfare payments and student grants.

You could do a FET (formerly FÁS) training course and keep your One-Parent Family Payment. New applicants in 2014 no longer get a training allowance for these courses. If you were on a training course before the end of 2013 you may continue to keep the training allowance. However your OFP is reduced as your training allowance is assessed against it as income.

Rates

One-Parent Family Payment rates 2014

One-Parent Family Payment Weekly rate (maximum)
Personal rate (under 66) €188
Child dependant €29.80

If you are entitled to a One-Parent Family Payment, payment of an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) will continue for other children in the family until they reach 18 (or 22 if in full-time education).

How to apply

To apply fill in a One-Parent Family application form (pdf). Send it with the relevant supporting documents to the Department of Social Protection - see 'Where to apply' below.

If you are widowed or a surviving civil partner, you should apply within 3 months of your spouse's or civil partner's death.

If you are single, you should apply within 3 months of the birth of your child.

If you are separated, divorced or no longer in a civil partnership, you should apply within 6 months of the date you separated from your spouse or civil partner. You must be separated for 3 months before you can apply.

If you are a prisoner's spouse or civil partner, you should apply when your spouse or civil partner:

  • Has been in custody for at least 6 months without being sentenced or
  • Starts their sentence, which must be for at least 6 months.

Staff in your local Intreo centre or social welfare local office will be happy to help you complete the application form and answer any questions you may have.

You can have your payment paid directly into your bank account or arrange to use your Social Services Card at the post office to collect your money.

If you get a One-Parent Family Payment you can use the Household Budget Scheme to help you manage your bills. You may also be eligible for other benefits such as Fuel Allowance, Family Income Supplement, Rent Supplement or a medical card.

Appeals

If you think you have been wrongly refused a One-Parent Family Payment, or you are unhappy about a decision of a social welfare Deciding Officer about your entitlements, you can appeal this decision.

Where to apply

Send your application for One-Parent Family Payment to your Intreo centre or local social welfare office.

If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre, Intreo centre or social welfare local office.

The organisations listed below provide support and information to people parenting alone:

Treoir

14 Gandon House
Custom House Square
IFSC
Dublin 1
Ireland

Tel:+353 (0)1 6700120
Locall:1890 252084
Fax:+353 (0)1 6700199
Homepage: http://www.treoir.ie
Email: info@treoir.ie

One Family

Cherish House
2 Lower Pembroke Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel:+353 (0)1 6629212
Locall:1890 662212
Fax:+353 (0)1 6629096
Homepage: http://www.onefamily.ie
Email: info@onefamily.ie

Page updated: 7 November 2014

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.