What is Carer’s Allowance?

Carer’s Allowance is a payment made to a parent who has a child with special needs and wishes to reduce their work to 18.5 hours or less per week. Often, parents might have to stop working to become the full-time Carer.

Once your child receives Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance, then the Department’s sole focus is on the means-test.

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

The main part of the assessment is the combined family salary. Couples combined earnings of less than €663 per week and €332 for a single parent are exempted. As of June 2022, the income level will increase slightly to €750 per week for a couple and €350 for a single parent.

For salary earning over these limits, a sliding scale of reduction applies to your Carer’s Allowance leading to a reduction in your payment until you don’t qualify for any Carer’s Allowance.

Any savings, investments, shares, second property equity or other assets over €40,000 value (€20,000 for a single parent) will affect your application. For each thousand a parent is over, their weekly Carer’s Allowance will be reduced by a set percentage.

The only slight good news is that assets values are to start from €50,000 as of June 2022 and there can also be a slight increase in your calculation if you contribute to a pension, travel to work, union dues and pay PRSI.

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

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

How much will I receive on Carer’s Allowance?

You will receive around €225 per week plus a slight increase depending on the size of your family. This can be lowered if your family financial assessment is over the limit as described above and is set by the Department.

If you have more than one child with additional needs then you will receive one and half times. This is a payment of around €337.50 per week.

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 or less and pass the means-test. A letter from your accountant or some 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 can 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 a total of 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?

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

To read more on Carer’s Benefit Click Here to read our article.

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

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

What additional entitlements will I receive with my Carer’s Allowance?

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. If you qualify for the Carer’s Allowance, it is worth checking if your family may be eligible for a medical card. Remember to keep your child’s medical card separate as they may have an automatic qualify while on Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance.

How long does Carer’s Allowance take to process in 2022?

Processing times for 2022 are hard to find, but I have seen Department figures show that in January 2021, the average number of weeks to award new Carer’s Allowance applications was 5-weeks. When speaking to parents, I generally hear of a waiting time of around 11 weeks plus.

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 Carers 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 there is missing information that needs to follow.

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?

Carer’s Allowance may be reviewed by the Department of Social Protection at any time to make sure 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 Carer’s 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 2022. 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.

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 the Carer’s Allowance 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 recommended that you apply for Carer’s Allowance at least 12 weeks before your planned start date. You can download the application form here.

You can post your Carer’s Allowance 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 /Website: https://www.gov.ie/en/service/2432ba-carers-allowance/  CarersAllowance@welfare.ie