Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Carer's Allowance Eligibility
500. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if consideration will be given to allowing those providing care to a disabled person the right to sign on for credits in circumstances in which a carer's allowance is not paid but it is not possible for a person to access employment due to caring responsibilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51831/17]
The purpose of credited contributions or “credits” is to protect social insurance entitlements by bridging gaps in an employee’s social insurance record, where they are not in a position to pay PRSI, such as for period of unemployment or illness. Therefore in general credits can only be awarded where an individual has had a recent attachment to the workforce i.e. within the last 2 years. In combination with paid PRSI contributions, credits can assist employees in qualifying for short-term schemes such as jobseeker’s benefit and enhance the level of benefit for long-term schemes such as the level of payment of State pension contributory (SPC). Credits do not however, in isolation, entitle individuals to qualify for social insurance benefits.
Individuals who are caring and who do not qualify for carer’s allowance may qualify for the homemaker’s scheme. The homemaker’s scheme is designed to help homemakers and carers qualify for the SPC, and applies to homemaking periods since 6 April 1994. It equally applies to both men and women.
The scheme provides that years spent working in the home while caring on a full-time basis for a child up to 12 years of age or an incapacitated person age 12 or over will be disregarded in calculating a person's yearly average number of contributions for the purposes of determining the rate of their entitlement to SPC. In this way the homemaker’s scheme ensures that an individual’s entitlement to SPC is protected during periods spent caring.