Working Family Payment
What is the Working Family Payment?
Working Family Payment (WFP) is a weekly tax-free payment for employees with children. It supports people who are on low pay. WFP used to be called Family Income Supplement (FIS).
You must be an employee to get WFP. You cannot get it if you are self-employed only.
You must have at least one child who normally lives with you or who you support financially. Your child must be under 18 (or between 18 and 22 if they are in full-time day education).
To get WFP, your average weekly family income must be under a certain amount for your family size. The WFP payment you get is 60% of the difference between your average weekly family income and the WFP income limit for your family size. For more information, see ‘Rate of Working Family Payment’ below.
WFP is not taxed.
WFP is not taken into account in the means test for a medical card.
Rules for getting the Working Family Payment
WFP is a tax-free weekly payment for employees who meet the following conditions:
- Work 38 or more hours per fortnight (in any combination of hours). You can combine your weekly hours with your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant's hours to meet this condition. You cannot use time spent in self-employment (or on Community Employment, Tús, JobBridge or the Rural Social Scheme) to meet this condition.
- Your job is likely to last at least 3 months
- You have at least one child who normally lives with you
- You earn less than the WFP income limit set for your family size
You must be employed, pay tax and PRSI in the Irish State. Under EU regulations you may be able to claim WFP if your children are living abroad and are dependent on you.
WFP is paid for one year (52 weeks) as long as you meet the conditions. It does not change if your earnings from work go up or down during that year. After 52 weeks, you can apply again for WFP. Some changes to your situation can affect your WFP – see below.
Changes that can affect your Working Family Payment
Your claim can be reassessed and you may get an increase in your weekly rate of WFP in the following 2 situations:
- If you start to care for an additional child
- If you were getting a One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and your payment has stopped because your youngest child has the OFP age limit.
Changes at work
If your pay from work is reduced, your WFP will stay the same. It will not increase. However, when your WFP ends you can apply again with details of your new lower income.
If the number of hours you work each week falls to under 38 hours a fortnight, you are no longer entitled to WFP. You should tell the WFP section of the Department of Social Protection (DSP) if this happens. See ‘Where to apply’ below.
If you move to a new job, your current entitlement to WFP will end and you must tell the WFP section of the DSP. You can apply again for WFP for your new job.
If you lose your job, you are no longer entitled to WFP. You must tell the WFP section of the DSP.
Other social welfare payments and the Working Family Payment
If you are getting WFP, you may also be entitled to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.
The Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) and WFP can be paid together. The BTWFD is not taken into account in the income test for WFP.
You cannot get WFP, if you are on one of these schemes or social welfare payments:
- Community Employment Scheme, Rural Social Scheme, or the Tús scheme.
- Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Transitional payment or Farm Assist
- Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme.
Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant can claim WFP while you are getting one of these payments. However, an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) will no longer be paid and your social welfare payment will be assessed as income for their WFP. Any Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) will be affected.
Similarly, if your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting one of these payments, you can qualify for WFP, but they will no longer be paid an IQA for you.
If you are parenting alone, you may be entitled to WFP in addition to your One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit or Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension.
You can get Illness Benefit or Injury Benefit while you are getting WFP (for 6 consecutive weeks). If you are off work for more than 6 consecutive weeks, your WFP is suspended. It will begin again when you return to work and send a final certificate into the Illness Benefit or Occupational Injury Benefit section or until your WFP award period expires (whichever happens first).
When you are on maternity leave or adoptive leave, you are entitled to be treated in the same way as when you are at work. This means that you can claim WFP if you meet the conditions of the WFP and already have a child. A pregnant woman who has no other children does not qualify for WFP until the birth of the baby.
You cannot continue to claim WFP if you take additional unpaid maternity leave or adoptive leave, or if you lose your job after returning to work, or if you give up your job.
Maintenance and the Working Family Payment
If you are a separated parent, you can apply for WFP if you meet the qualifying conditions and:
- You are living with the children or
- You are whollymaintaining your ex-spouse, ex-civil partner or ex-cohabitant with whom the children are living
Whollymaintaining means that the maintenance paid by you, the WFP applicant, must be the main income of your ex-spouse, ex-civil partner or ex-cohabitant. Your ex-spouse or ex-partner cannot have more than €100 a week income in their own right and cannot be married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting.
WFP is awarded to you for 52 weeks. This means that an ex-partner who is included in your WFP claim cannot get WFP in their own right, or be included in another person’s WFP claim, during that 52-week period.
If you are a separated parent and paying maintenance, you may qualify for WFP. To qualify, you must be wholly maintaining the parent who the children are living with. Because only one payment can be made for a family, the parent you are paying maintenance to must not be getting WFP. You must provide written evidence from this person to show that they are getting maintenance from you.
If you are paying maintenance for a second family because of a court order or a legally binding agreement, the amount of that maintenance payment will not be deducted from the income to be assessed for WFP.
Maintenance is assessed in the means test for WFP. 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 your means.
Some of the maintenance payment that you spend on housing will not be counted as income for the WFP means test. Your 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 only use (offset) your housing costs in this way for maintenance payments if you have not already used them in a means test for another social welfare payment.
Non-cash benefits are not assessed as means. For example, if your rent or mortgage payments are made by an ex-spouse or ex-partner under a maintenance agreement it is not assessed.
You can get more information on how maintenance is assessed as means.
Rate of Working Family Payment
The DSP will assess your household income in a means test. It compares your total income to the WFP income limit for your family size.
If you earn less than the WFP income limit, you may get WFP.
Your WFP will be 60% of the difference between the WFP income limit for your family size and your assessable income. The combined income of a couple (who are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting) is taken into account when calculating assessable income.
Income that is taken into account for the Working Family Payment is called assessable income.
The main items counted as income are:
- Your assessable earnings and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant's assessable earnings. (Assessable earnings are gross pay minus tax, employee PRSI, Universal Social Charge and superannuation (including the Public Service Pension Levy and contributions to Personal Retirement Savings Accounts.) Income from working as a home help is assessed.
- Extra income you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant have from employment (such as pay for overtime, bonuses, allowances or commission).
- Any income you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant have from self-employment.
- Income from occupational pensions
- Income you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may have including social welfare payments and student grants.
- All family income from carer's payments (Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit).
- Rental income from the letting of property or land (the capital value is not assessed). The gross rental income is assessed and you cannot deduct mortgage payments or other expenses. Rental income from renting a room in your house is included.
Generally, all financial compensation is taken into account. However, certain types of compensation are not assessed as income. You can find a list of compensation payments not assessed as income.
The WFP income test does not assess capital. This includes property you own, bank accounts and cars.
The following payments do not count as family income:
- Child Benefit
- Guardian's payments
- Supplementary Welfare Allowance
- Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Foster Child Allowance
- Rent Allowance for tenants affected by the de-control of rents
- Rent Supplement
- Fuel Allowance
- Income from a charitable organisation
- Income from providing accommodation to students studying Irish in Gaeltacht areas under a scheme administered by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media
- Payments under the 1916 Bursary Fund from the Department of Education
- Uversity payments made under the Higher Education Scholarships for Adult Learners of up to a maximum of €7000 per year
- Payments under the Department of Education's school transport scheme for children with special educational needs
- Any income your children may have
Calculating income for WFP
The Department of Social Protection (DSP) calculates your assessable earnings over a certain period of time.
Because WFP is paid over 52 weeks, the DSP tries to calculate your average earnings over a similar period of time. Normally they will use your earnings up to the date of your application. If you are newly in employment, your average weekly income is calculated from when you started work with that employer.
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is self-employed, his or her income over the 12-month period before you apply is used to work out his or her average weekly income.
Again, to qualify, your average weekly family income must be below the WFP income limit for your family size.
WFP income limits from 7 January 2021
|If you have:||And your weekly family income is less than:|
|Eight or more children||€1,308|
If you qualify for WFP, you get a minimum of €20 each week. You can use the DSP’s benefit of work estimator to work out the total amount you would get working (including any Working Family Payment). It also compares this amount to what you are getting in jobseeker payments (including Rent Supplement).
If you are getting WFP, you may also be entitled to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.
How to apply for the Working Family Payment
To apply fill in an application form for Working Family Payment (pdf). You can get a copy of this form in your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
You can get help filling it in at an Intreo Centre, Social Welfare Branch Office or Citizens Information Centre.
To make sure that your application for WFP is processed as quickly as possible, you should send your most recent payslips with your application form.
You will need to provide your bank details and information about your (and your partner’s) income and most recent payslips.
If you think you have been wrongly refused WFP, you can appeal this decision.