I recently received an email from a woman whose youngest son has Down Syndrome. (due to confidently, lets name her Mary).Mary, is working full time and was hoping to reduce her hours as her son now needs more care. In this article, I will explain Carer’s Allowance & Carer’s Benefit but first before anyone can get additional entitlements you must be in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance.
Provided Domiciliary Care Allowance is in place then two options are available. Mary can apply for Carer’s Benefit (€205 per week) which isn’t Means Tested, but is based on your PRSI contribution. Mary must have been employed for at least 8 weeks in the previous 26 week period and cannot be engage in employment for more than 15-hours a week. The maximum Mary can earn during that period is €324 per week. During her absence, adequate care for her son must be arranged
Parents can receive Carer’s Benefit for up to 2 years and it is possible to take it in various blocks of time. If you have a second child with special needs, again you could claim Carer’s Benefit for a further 2 years.
The second option is Carer’s Allowance (€204 per week) which has similar rules to Carer’s Benefit but is Means Tested. When you apply, your family’s income, savings and assets will be taken in to consideration. But the major benefit is that parents can have Carer’s Allowance for more than 2-years. When you are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance you also qualify for additional entitlements that you won’t receive on Carer’s Benefit such as household benefit package.
One further note to add is that both Carer’s Allowance and Benefit are taxable source of income and need to be declared to the Revenue for you to remain tax compliant. This is an issue I see with lots of families who have never declared and will be fined if discovered.
The final consideration for Mary is the financial impact of reducing her hours will have on the family’s current income and future pensions entitlements. A drop in wages can cause a lot of stress if Mary start to struggle to pay the bills so consider all angles before making a decision.
This article was prepared by Allan Cuthbert, a Special Needs Financial Planner. If you want to take the guess work out of planning for the future when you have a child with special needs email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 021 482 3635 for more information.