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

The pros and cons of both benefits need to be analysed before deciding on what option suits your family best. Your child’s development stage should also be considered and when would your son/daughter benefit most from you been able to provide that additional care.

To receive either payment you need to meet a number of criteria such as being in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance.

Carer’s Benefit

Parents in receipt of Carer’s Benefit receive around €210 per week plus a small increase depending on the size of their family. Carer’s Benefit is not Means Tested but is based on your PRSI contribution. Director of companies and parent who are self-employed struggle to gain access to this scheme. Other criteria such as being employed for at least 8-weeks in the previous 26-week period and parents cannot engage in employment for more than 15-hours a week. The maximum a parent can earn 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. From experience, it is often a good idea to hold a few months of Carer’s Benefit for the future when it might be need more (planned operation, transitional in school, school holidays, etc).

If both parents meet the criteria then each can take their 104-weeks but just not at the same time. Recent parents I have been working with have taken extended maternity break and a few parents I helped to take early retirement and combine it with Carer’s Benefit.

If you have a second child with special needs, again you could claim Carer’s Benefit for a further 104-weeks.

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. Parent receive around €210 per week plus a small increase depending on the size of your family but this can be lowered if the family income is more than €663 per week. As parents income is over the €1,000 per month then your application can be rejected.

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

Recent families I have been working with have been transitioning from Domiciliary Care Allowance to Disability Allowance and again because they meet the financial criteria then the parents continue to receive the Carer’s Allowance. Interesting, the vast majority of my parents qualify for Carers Allowance when they retire even if they never received it during their working career.

If you have a second child with special needs, again you could claim an increase in your weekly payment.

Last Thought

The final consideration for parents is the financial impact of reducing hours will have on the family’s current financial position and future pension entitlements. A drop in wages can cause a lot of stress so consider all angles before making a decision. Granted, it is not all about the money and taken a Carers payment can make a huge difference to the quality of life for your family.