Written answers

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Benefits

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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590. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the terms of the means test for a qualified adult allowance will be adversely affected if the savings of a continuous positive airway pressure claimant are put into joint names due to the claimant’s diminishing capacity to take decision; and if she will consider protecting the qualified adult allowance payment in such circumstances. [39571/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Recipients of certain social welfare payments can claim an increase in their payment in respect of a Qualified Adult, subject to a means assessment.  A Qualified Adult is the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the recipient who is being wholly or mainly maintained by that claimant. 

The means test in respect of the increase for a Qualified Adult applies to both contribution based social insurance payments (where only the means of the Qualified Adult is assessed), and contingency based social assistance payments (where the means of both the main claimant and the Qualified Adult are assessed).

The means assessed include income from employment or self-employment, non-social welfare pensions, and the capital value of savings, investments and property other than the family home.  It should be noted that the value of the family home, regardless of who is the legal owner, is never taken into account in this assessment.

For social assistance schemes, the total household income is always assessed as part of the means test, and as such, the issue of whether savings are held solely by one member of a couple or jointly between them does not arise.

When calculating the weekly means from savings or other capital, an assessment formula is used.  The first €20,000 of capital is fully disregarded; the next €10,000 assessed at €1 per thousand, the next €10,000 is assessed at €2 per thousand, with the remainder assessed at €4 per thousand.   

For social insurance schemes, where savings, property or other assets are held jointly, the spouse or partner's means is taken to be half of the total amount.  In addition, for social insurance schemes such as the State Pension (Contributory), an increase for a Qualified Adult is payable at the maximum rate of payment where the means of the spouse or partner are €100 a week or less, while reduced rates are payable where the means are over €100 and less than €310 per week.  No increase is payable where the means of the spouse or partner are in excess of €310 per week.

The current means testing arrangements are based on the actual means of the spouse or partner at any given time.

Any proposals to change the means assessment formula for an Increase for a Qualified Adult  would have to be considered in an overall budgetary and policy context.

If the Deputy wants to supply my Department with details in relation to a particular case, I will ensure that my officials investigate the specific circumstances which apply and respond comprehensively to you.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.


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