What is Carer’s Benefit?

Carer’s Benefit is a payment made to certain employed parents 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, you cannot ever claim for your child again.

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 a separate 104 weeks if they meet the criteria.

However, both parents can’t claim at the same time or pass on their entitlement to their spouse to reclaim it on their behalf.

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 many 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 had taken their Benefit in blocks of time that total 104 weeks. I have many parents who have claimed the Benefit during the school summer holidays each year over many years rather than taking the payment in a consecutive two-year period.

Another thing most parents wouldn’t know is that you can take it up until you turn 66 so I have some parents who have taken early retirement and also the Carer’s Benefit.

How much is Carer’s Benefit in Ireland for 2024?

Carer’s Benefit is around €249 per week plus a slight increase depending on their family size.

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 the Carer’s Benefit. This is a payment of €373.50 per week for 104 weeks.

However, if you claim separately for each child, you will receive more. You will get €249 payment for 208 weeks, which means you will get an extra €12,948 and be able to stay out on Carer’s Benefit for longer.

What PRSI do I need to have to qualify?

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 the following:

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 were paid in the relevant tax year and 26 were paid in the year before.

How confusing is that!

I suggest ringing the department up and giving them your PPS number, and they can check the computer system and let you know for definite.

Can self-employed or directors qualify for Carer’s Benefit?

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

Can I work and receive Carer’s Benefit?

You can potentially work up to 18.5 hours per week, another thing to keep an eye on is that your salary from work can’t be more than €450 per week after certain deductions. This is your income after you take away income tax, Universal Social Charge, PRSI, pension payments, union dues and any health insurance premiums.

Some parents work 10-15 hours if the maximum income is an issue so that they can stay under the €450 maximum.

Is Carer’s Benefit means-tested?

Carer’s Benefit is not means-tested and your spouse’s income or assets are not considered. It is based more on your PRSI record and providing full-time care to a child with additional needs. If your child has Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance, this should be sufficient proof; otherwise, you must complete the medical section of 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, it is worth determining 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 includes additional entitlements such as Household Benefits Package and Free Travel Pass for the Carer.

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 it 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 6-8 weeks. I also get good feedback from parents when they ring the Carer’s Benefit Department, and the staff seem very helpful. Which makes a great change!

Before submitting your form, double-check that you have answered each section to ensure the timely processing of your application. As always, photocopy everything before posting in case your file goes missing.

Can it be backdated?

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

What additional entitlements could I get with 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.

How to apply?

It is recommended that you apply at least 12 weeks before you plan to leave work. You can download the application form here. https://www.gov.ie/en/form/00f54d-carers-benefit-carb1/

You can then post your 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. To visit their website: www.gov.ie/CARB or send them an email at Carersbenefit@welfare.ie.

Can Carer’s Benefit be refused?

Yes, unfortunately, I have come across many families who have been turned down when applying for the Carer’s Benefit. Most refusals are because the parents don’t meet the PRSI requirements. I have also met with parents who were refused as the Department believes no additional care is 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