What is Carer’s Benefit?

Carer’s Benefit is a payment made to certain employed people who stop work or reduce their working hours to 18.5 or less per week to care for a child with additional needs. It is payable for 104 weeks, but once you have used up your 104 weeks, then you are unable to ever claim for your child again.

This I feel is a ridiculous stipulation as the need is still there after 104 weeks. Don’t start me!

Some parents may not know this, but if the second parent wishes to claim for the same child, they too can submit a new application and get Carer’s Benefit for a separate 104 weeks if they meet the criteria.

However, both parents can’t claim at the same time and if you have more than one child with special needs, you can subsequently claim for the next child separately.

How can I take my Carer’s Benefit?

This is up to each parent and their family situation. I know from experience that lots of parents get a diagnosis for their child and take their 104 weeks straight away. Often regretting it as they might have benefited more if they took their Carer’s Benefit in blocks of time that total 104 weeks. I have many parents who claim the Carer’s Benefit during the school summer holidays each year over many years. Rather than taking the payment in a straight two-year period.

What PRSI do I need to have to qualify for Carer’s Benefit?

To get Carer’s Benefit, you must have at least 156 PRSI contributions paid at any time since you first started work.

You must also have:

  • 39 contributions paid in the relevant tax year or
  • 39 contributions paid in the 12 months before the start of Carer’s Benefit or
  • 26 contributions paid in the relevant tax year and 26 contributions paid in the year before that.

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

Unfortunately, Class S do not count towards the necessary PRSI needed to qualify. This is so unfair and unlikely to change anytime soon. Only contributions at Class A, B, C, D, H and E are counted towards Carer’s Benefit.

Another thing to keep an eye on is that your salary from work (18.5 hours or less), is not more than €332.50 per week after taxes. From June 2022, the maximum you can earn will increase to €350.00 a week.

How much is Carer’s Benefit in Ireland?

Parents in receipt of Carer’s Benefit receive around €225 per week plus a slight increase depending on the size of their family.

If you have more than one child with special needs, you can claim for both at the same time but you will only be awarded one and a half times Carer’s Benefit. This is a payment of €337.50 per week for 104 weeks. However, if you claim separately for each child, then you will receive more as you will get €225 payment for 208-weeks which means you will get an extra €11,700 and be able to stay out on Carer’s Benefit for longer.

Is Carer’s Benefit means-tested?

Carer’s Benefit is not means-tested. It is based more on your PRSI record and providing full-time care to a child with special needs. If your child has Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance, then this is sufficient proof otherwise you will have to complete the medical section to the application.

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

Carer’s Allowance is a means-tested payment and you will have to produce a financial statement of family salary, assets, savings, second properties, shares, etc.

Before applying for Carer’s Benefit, it is worth finding out if you qualify for Carer’s Allowance. If so, I recommend not using your Carer’s Benefit and instead completing your Carer’s Allowance form. The main reason is that you can continue to claim Carer’s Allowance without any 104-week time restraints. Carer’s Allowance also comes with additional entitlements such as Household Benefits Package and Free Travel Pass.

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

How long does Carer’s Benefit 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 Benefit applications was 4-weeks. When speaking to parents, I generally hear of a waiting time of around 6-8 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 Carers Benefit be backdated?

It is rare to hear back from my families that they have been successful in backdating their claim. The Department in certain circumstances where “good cause” is shown for the delay in making a claim, may make an exception and award a backdated claim of up to 6 months.

What additional entitlements could I get with Carer’s Benefit?

If you are awarded Carer’s Benefit, you can also get a GP visit card. If you don’t automatically get the Carer’s Support Grant, then while on Carer’s Benefit, you will receive your annual payment of €1,850 on the first Thursday in June each year too.

How to apply for Carer’s Benefit?

It is recommended that you apply for Carer’s Benefit at least 6 weeks before you plan to leave work. You can download the application form here.

You can then post your Carer’s Benefit application to Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Co. Longford, N39 E4E0. For more information or assistance, you can contact the Carer’s Benefit Department on 0818 927770 /Website: www.gov.ie/CARB / Carersbenefit@welfare.ie