Domiciliary Care Allowance
What is the Domiciliary Care Allowance?
Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability. The child must need ongoing care and attention substantially over and above that usually needed by a child of the same age. It is not means tested.
You can find out more about what severe or substantially means in the DCA Medical Guidelines (pdf). It is used by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) when it is assessing applications for DCA. The guidelines state that the payment is not based on the type of disability, but on the level of physical or mental impairment which results in the child needing substantially more care and attention than another child of the same age.
You can also read the information leaflet for DCA (SW127). The leaflet is available from your Intreo Centre or Citizens Information Service.
DCA medical card scheme
All children getting DCA are eligible for a medical card without a means test.
If the child does not already have a medical card or GP visit card, you can register them online or download a registration form. If the child already has a medical card or GP visit card, they will be automatically registered for a medical card and registration is not required.
The HSE has a list of Frequently Asked Questions about this scheme.
From January 2023, the rate of Domiciliary Care Allowance will increase by €20.50 per month for each qualifying child.
How to qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance
To qualify, the child must have a severe disability that is likely to last for at least 1 year and:
- Be aged under 16 (at 16, the child can apply for a Disability Allowance - see 'How to apply' below for more information)
- Live at home with the person claiming the allowance for 5 or more days a week. However, there are some exceptions to this – see ‘Living a home’ below.
- Meet the medical criteria - see below
- Be ordinarily resident in the State
In addition, the person claiming the allowance for the child must:
- Provide for the care of the child
- Be habitually resident in the State.
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 DCA 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:
- The history of the case.
- All medical reports received (your GP fills out a medical report and you should include reports from any relevant specialists).
- Your description of the care and attention required by your child. (The form allows you to state what extra care your child needs under a number of headings.)
Living at home
To qualify for DCA, the child must live at home with the person claiming the allowance for 5 or more days a week. However, DCA may be paid where this is not possible because the parents are sharing care and live apart, or the child spends part of the week in residential care.
Parents living apart: DCA may be paid where parents are sharing the full-time care of their disabled child, but live apart. For example, where separated parents have joint custody, but the child doesn’t live with either parent for the required 5 continuous days each week. In this case, the DCA is paid to the parent nominated in writing by both parents or to the parent who is getting Child Benefit for the child.
Residential care: A half-rate DCA payment may be paid if a child in residential care goes 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. Children who are being cared for on a full-time basis in residential homes or other institutions are not eligible for the allowance.
Rate of Domiciliary Care Allowance
The Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) rate is €309.50 per month.
There is no restriction on the number of children for whom you may claim DCA. (In other words, if you are caring for more than 1 child who qualifies for DCA, 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 6 months 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 Carer's Support Grant, which is paid automatically each year during the month of June.
How to apply for Domiciliary Care Allowance
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 Branch 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 only be stopped where on review it is decided that your child no longer requires full-time care and attention. A Carer’s Allowance may be reviewed at any time to ensure that you continue to meet the conditions.
If your application is refused, you can appeal the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. You must appeal within 21 days of getting the decision.
Where to apply for Domiciliary Care Allowance
Your application form and supporting documentation should be sent to:
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 Branch Office.