Written answers

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Eligibility

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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341. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she plans to raise the income limits for the fuel allowance given the increasing cost of fuel. [49676/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Fuel Allowance is a payment of €28.00 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €784 each year) from October to April, to 370,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €300 million in 2021. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household.

The criteria for Fuel Allowance are framed in order to direct the limited resources available to my Department in as targeted a manner as possible. All recipients of non-contributory payments are accepted as satisfying the means-test for fuel. People who are in receipt of a qualifying contributory payment must also satisfy a means test.

A fuel applicant and members of his/her household may have a combined assessable income of up to €100.00 a week above the appropriate rate of State Pension Contributory and qualify for a payment. This ensures that the fuel allowance payment goes to those who are more vulnerable to fuel poverty including those reliant on social protection payments for longer periods and who are unlikely to have additional resources of their own.

Any extension of the fuel allowance qualifying criteria, such as increasing the allowable means for fuel allowance purposes or only assessing the means of the fuel applicant, can only be considered while taking account of the overall budgetary context and the availability of financial resources.

Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme a special heating supplement may be paid to assist people in certain circumstances. Exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which an applicant is unable to meet from his / her own resources.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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342. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) who was self-employed is entitled to the carer’s benefit in respect of the care provided for their infant child who has life-long disabilities. [49684/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment made to insured people who leave the workforce or reduce their working hours to care for a child or an adult in need of full-time care and attention.

There are a number of conditions that must be satisfied in order to qualify for CARB, including employment conditions and certain PRSI contribution conditions.

Only PRSI conditions paid in classes A, B, C, D, E and H are counted towards CARB. Contributions paid at class S (self employed contributions) no not count.

The person concerned applied for CARB on 15 January 2020. Having considered the evidence submitted in support of the application, a Deciding Officer determined that conditions for receipt of CARB were not met and the claim was disallowed.The person concerned was notified of the decision on 25 February 2020, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

According to the records of this Department, the person concerned has not requested a review or appeal of this decision to date.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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343. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the means test criteria for a disability allowance with respect to a self-employed farmer. [49703/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Disability allowance (DA) is a means tested scheme and the way means are assessed is laid down in social welfare legislation. In summary, any income, with some exceptions, belonging to the person is assessable as means for DA purposes.

Where a person is in receipt of DA and is also a self employed farmer, then the Department assesses the prospective income from the farm in the next 12 months. In most cases the figures for the last 12 months can be used for this purpose. If there has been a major change in stock levels or in method of farming, estimation will need to be made on the best available evidence. The yearly value (or net profit) is calculated by deducting all necessary expenses from the gross income.

The first €140 of weekly income from that employment is disregarded for the purpose of the means test. 50% of their weekly earnings between €140 and €350 is then disregarded for the purpose of the means test. Any further earnings, over €350 per week, are fully assessed for the purpose of the means test.

There is no discretion allowed as deciding officers are obliged to follow the legislation when assessing means.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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