Carer’s Benefit and Carer’s Allowance are the two main options available to parents who want to reduce their hours at work or stop working altogether to become a full-time Carer.

To receive either payment, you need to meet a number of criteria, such as your child must require additional support because of illness, physical or learning disability. In general, if you have Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance this is accepted as meeting the first condition.

How much is Carer’s Benefit?

Parents in receipt of Carer’s Benefit receive around €225 per week plus a slight increase depending on the size of their family. Carer’s Benefit is not means-tested but is based on your PRSI contribution. Directors of companies and parents who are self-employed struggle to gain access to this scheme due to PRSI classification. Other criteria include being employed for at least 8-weeks in the previous 26-week period and parents cannot engage in employment for more than 18.5-hours a week. The maximum a parent can earn through employment during that period is €332 per week.

Parents can receive Carer’s Benefit for up to 104-weeks and it is possible to take it in various blocks of time. If both parents meet the criteria, then each can take their 104-weeks but not at the same time. 

Carer’s Benefit Tip: If you have more than one child with special needs, you can claim one and a half times Carer’s Benefit for 104-weeks. However, if you claim separately for each child then you will receive more as you will get full payment for 208-weeks

How much is Carer’s Allowance?

The second option is Carer’s Allowance 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 into consideration. Parents receive around €225 per week plus a small increase depending on the size of their family. This can be lowered if the family income is more than €663 per week (€332 for a single parent). As a rough guide, parents with a combined income of over €1,000 per month could have their application rejected.

Any savings, investments, shares, second property equity or other assets over €40,000 (€20,000 for a single parent) are also included in the means-tested calculation. These bands can be slightly increased if you contribute to a pension, travel to work, and your PRSI can also be included. 

A major benefit to Carer’s Allowance is that parents can claim it for more than 104-weeks. Once you meet the criteria, you can continue to claim it even when your child is an adult and you are retired.

When you receive Carer’s Allowance, you also qualify for additional entitlements that you won’t receive on Carer’s Benefit such as Household Benefits Package and a Free Travel Pass. All parents on Carer’s Allowance or Benefit are entitled to a free GP visit card.

Review of Carer’s Allowance?

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 can be quite stressful, and the result is usually a reduction or, in many cases, our parents lose their Carer’s Allowance if their income levels have risen since their initial application.


Changes to Carer’s payments in 2022

January 2022 will see the maximum weekly rate of Carer’s Benefit and Allowance increase by €5 with proportional increases for people on reduced payment rates. A slight increase for dependant child payments will also apply.

Budget 2022 also announced that in June 2022, the means for Carer’s Allowance will move to €350 for a single parent or €750 for couples. Any asset (other than the family home) over €50,000 will now form part of your means.

If you have been one of the unlucky parents to have been turned down or got your payment reduced because of the means-test. 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 and stir the hornets’ nest, 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. Citizen Information will also be able to send you out the form you need.

I still believe that Carer’s Allowance should never be means-tested as it is not a choice but a necessity to take on the role of a Carer. But that is for another day.