What is Carer’s Allowance?

Carer’s Allowance is a means-tested payment made to a parent of a child with special needs, who takes on the role of a full time Carer. Parents can potentially work up to 18.5 hours per week.

Once your child receives Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance, then your case should meet the care needs. The Department’s sole focus will then switch to the means-test.

What is the means-test for Carer’s Allowance in 2024?

The main part of the assessment is the combined family salary. Couples with combined earnings of less than €900 per week and €450 for a single parent are exempted.

For salary earning over these limits, a sliding scale of reduction applies, leading to a reduction in your payment until your application is refused.

Any savings, investments, shares, second property equity or other assets over €50,000 value will affect your application. For each thousand you are over, your weekly Allowance will be reduced by a set percentage.

There can also be a slight increase in your calculation if you contribute to a pension, travel to work, pay union dues and pay PRSI.

Please don’t get too excited; it doesn’t make a substantial difference.

You will also be glad to know that your family home will only be assessed if you receive an income from it. However, how much you pay on your mortgage, utility bills, car loans and other costs will not be deducted from the means-test.

How much will I receive on Carer’s Allowance in 2024?

You will receive around €248 per week plus a slight increase depending on the size of your family. This can be lowered if your family’s financial assessment is over the meant-test limits.

If you have more than one child with additional needs, you can receive one and a half times, which is a payment of around €372 per week. Some of my families have more than three children with additional needs but still will only receive a maximum of one and a half times.

Can parents who are self-employed or a director qualify for Carer’s Allowance?

Yes, once you can prove you work less than 18.5 hours per week and pass the means-test. A statement of your accounts or other proof is essential.

What’s the difference between Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit?

Carer’s Allowance is means-tested, and Carer’s Benefit is more based on having sufficient PRSI contribution.

If you qualify for both the Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit, always take Carer’s Allowance. There is no restriction on how long you can take Carer’s Allowance, unlike Carer’s Benefit which is only available for 104 weeks. So don’t use up your Carer’s Benefit unnecessarily. You also get additional entitlements while on Carer’s Allowance.

One further note is that both Carer’s Allowance and Benefits are taxable sources of income and should be declared to the Revenue.

What can I do if I can’t pass the means-test for Carer’s Allowance?

The assessment is very harsh. Appealing under the care you provide will not change the result of the means-test. It is worth contacting Citizen Information as they have the calculator to see if your financial assessment was carried out correctly.

If the Department doesn’t approve your application for, you could possibly apply for the non-means-tested Carer’s Benefit.

How long can I continue to claim Carer’s Allowance?

Once you meet the criteria, you can continue to claim even in retirement. Lots of my families don’t qualify during their working careers but are pleasantly surprised to be eligible when they retire as their pensions are lower than their previous salaries.

What additional entitlements will I receive?

When you receive Carer’s Allowance, you also qualify for additional entitlements such as Carer’s Support Grant, Household Benefits Package and Free Travel Pass. The Travel Pass is for the Carer and not for the child, as some parents may assume.

All parents on Carer’s Allowance are entitled to a free GP Visit Card. It is worth checking if your family may be eligible for a Medical Card if you qualify. Remember to keep your child’s medical card separate, as they may automatically qualify while on Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance.

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How long does Carer’s Allowance take to process in 2024?

Processing times for 2024 are hard to find. When speaking to parents, I generally hear of a waiting time of around 12 weeks.

Before sending off your form, double-check that you have answered each section to avoid unnecessary delays in processing your application. As always, do photocopy everything before posting just in case your file goes missing.

Can Carer’s Allowance be backdated?

It is rare to hear back from my families that they have successfully backdated their claim. This is why it is so important to get your application off in the post, even if you are waiting on some information. You can always send this afterwards.

The Department usually use the date they receive your application as the start date. In certain circumstances where “good cause” is shown for the delay in making a claim, they may make an exception and award a backdated claim of up to 6 months.

Can Carer’s Allowance be reviewed?

Parents must inform the Department if their circumstances change. The Department of Social Protection may also review the Carer’s Allowance at any time to ensure that you can continue with your payment. When initiating a review, the Department will contact you and request specific information.

A review by the Department is stressful. The result is usually a reduction or, in many cases, lots of our parents losing their Allowance if their income levels have risen since their initial application.

Should I ask for Carer’s Allowance to be reviewed?

If you have been one of the unlucky parents to have been turned down or got your payment reduced because of the means-test prior to June 2024. Now is the time to do a bit of investigation, and fingers crossed, you might end up with a little bit more in your pocket as the means-test is slightly more generous from June 2024 onwards.

Before you rush off and contact the Carer’s Allowance Department, I strongly encourage parents to ring Citizen Information first on 0761 07 4000. They have a calculator and will be able to give you an estimate of your new rate if you were to apply or appeal. Before you call, have a recent payslip, bank statements, list of any assets you own, and this should give you the information you need to base your next step.

How to apply for Carer’s Allowance?

I recommend that you apply at least 12 weeks before your planned start date. The application form can be downloaded here.

You can post your application to Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Co. Longford, N39 E4E0. For more information, you can contact the Carer’s Allowance Department on 0818 927770 or email CarersAllowance@welfare.ie Website: https://www.gov.ie/en/service/2432ba-carers-allowance/

Can Carer’s Allowance be refused?

Yes, unfortunately, I have come across many families who have been turned down when applying for the Carer’s Allowance. Most refusals are because the parents don’t pass the means-test. I have also met with parents who were refused as the Department believes there is no additional care needed.

If you are refused, you can appeal this decision. You should appeal within 21 days of getting the decision. For more information on how to appeal, click on this link