- Carers Allowance (Means Tested)
- Carers Benefit & Carers Leave
- Credit Contributions – ‘Credits’
- Carers Leave
- Eligibility Rules for Carers Benefit
- PRSI Contribution Conditions
- Tax Implications
- Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Free Travel
- Home Support
- Home Tuition Grant
- Long Term Illness Scheme
- Medical Card
- Respite Grant
- Tax Credits & Allowances
There are a number of Benefits, Entitlements and Allowances that can be applied for to help your child with Autism. Some of these are on an entitlement basis based on the disability; some are means tested, some are age dependent and some are needs based.
It can be very confusing trying to make sense of all these especially if you are trying to come to terms with a new diagnosis. We have tried to clarify the various options below. Some of these will apply to you and hopefully the hints and tips we give will help when completing the forms.
Carers Allowance (Means Tested)
Carer’s Allowance is a payment to people living in Ireland who are looking after someone who is in need of support because of age, physical or learning disability or illness, including mental illness.
The Carer’s Allowance is not payable to everyone, it is mainly aimed at carers on low incomes who live with and look after certain people who need full-time care and attention. There are rules about who may be entitled to claim Carers Allowance and these rules are set out under ‘Rules’ below.
If you are providing care to more than one person you may be entitled to an additional 50% of the maximum rate of Carer’s Allowance each week.
Carer’s Allowance is paid directly into your bank or building society account or by a book of payable orders, whichever you prefer. (Payable orders may be cashed each week at a Post Office chosen by you.
If receiving carers allowance, you will also qualify for free household benefits (such as Free Electricity/Natural Gas/Bottled Gas Refill Allowance, Free Television Licence, Free Telephone Rental Allowance) and a Free Travel Pass.
Carer’s Allowance is not taken into account in the assessment for a medical card.
If you consider that you have been wrongly refused Carer’s Allowance, or you are unhappy about a decision of a Social Welfare Deciding Officer about your entitlements, you have the option of appealing this decision.
For current details and criteria on how to apply please see Citizens Information
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Social Welfare Services Office
Tel :(043) 334 0000 LoCall: 1890 927 770
Application forms are also available at your local social welfare office.
Carers Benefit & Carers Leave
Carers Benefit & Carers Leave is extremely useful for people to take some time off work and receive a weekly payment.
It works in many ways like maternity leave in that your job is held for you to return to and your employment rights are not affected. It does not cost your employer anything.
Carers Benefit/Leave can last for up to two years although you don’t have to take the full two years and can also take it over a number of years. It is also applicable to both parents.
Particularly when a child is first diagnosed and there is a feeling of panic about providing help for your child, the ability to take some time off work with a weekly payment can relieve the pressure for a while and puts a decision regarding work on hold to give you a breathing space.
Carer’s Benefit is a payment made to insured persons in Ireland who leave the workforce to care for a person(s) in need of full-time care and attention.
You can get Carer’s Benefit for a total period of 104 weeks for each person being cared for. This may be claimed as a single continuous period or in any number of separate periods up to a total of 104 weeks. However, if you claim Carer’s Benefit for less than six consecutive weeks in any given period you must wait for a further six weeks before you can claim Carer’s Benefit to care for the same person again.
If you are caring for more than one person, you may receive payment for each care recipient for 104 weeks. This may result in the care periods overlapping or running concurrently. Source
Credit Contributions – ‘Credits’
You will be awarded “credits” automatically for the period you are getting Carer’s Benefit. Credits are awarded at the same rate as your last paid contribution. These credits help protect your future entitlements.
Your right to Carer’s Leave from employment compliments the Carer’s Benefit Scheme with regard to leave. Carer’s Leave allows employees to leave their employment temporarily for a period up to 104 weeks to provide full-time care for people in need of full-time care and attention.
The leave will be unpaid but those who propose to avail of Carer’s Leave will have their jobs kept open for them for the duration of the leave.
Eligibility for Carer’s Benefit will not be a prerequisite for Carer’s Leave.
If you think you have been wrongly refused Carer’s Benefit, or you are unhappy about a decision of a Social Welfare Deciding Officer about your entitlements, you can appeal this decision.
Eligibility Rules for Carers Benefit
You may be eligible for Carer’s Benefit if:
- You are aged 16 or over and under 66
- You have been in employment for at least eight weeks in the previous 26 weeks before becoming a carer. You must have worked for a minimum of 16 hours per week or 32 hours per fortnight.
- You are resident in the state.
- You give up work in order to be a full time carer. Being a full time carer means you must be living with or in a position to provide full-time care and attention to a person in need of care who is not living in an institution.
- You are not living in a hospital, convalescent home or other similar institution. However, you may continue to be regarded as providing full-time care and attention, if you or the person being cared for is undergoing medical or other treatment in a hospital or other institution for a period not longer than 13 weeks.
- You meet the PRSI contribution conditions.
- The person being cared for is so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention and is not normally living in an institution. Medical certification is required unless; the person being cared for is a child and getting Domiciliary Care Allowance. The carer of a child on a Domiciliary Care Allowance need not be the person who receives that allowance on the child’s behalf.
- You must not be engaged in employment, self-employment, training or education courses outside the home for more than 15 hours a week. Since April 2008, the maximum amount you can earn is €332.50 per week.
PRSI Contribution Conditions
You must have at least 156 contributions paid at any time, between entry into insurance and the time the claim for Carer’s Benefit is made and:
- 39 contributions paid in the Relevant Tax Year or
- 39 contributions paid in the 12-month period before the commencement of the Carer’s Benefit <or
- 36 contributions paid in the Relevant Tax Year and 26 contributions paid in the Relevant Tax Year prior to that
The contributions do not have to be Class A. Instead, all employment contributions count (except Class S (self-employed) contributions. The Relevant Tax Year is the second last complete tax year before the year in which you make your claim. So, for claims made in 2015, the Relevant Tax Year is 2013.
This is a taxable source of income and should be advised to your local tax office.
To apply fill in an application form for Carers Benefit (pdf). This form (CARB1) is also available from your local Social Welfare Office or from the Carer’s Benefit Section, (see ‘Where to apply’ below).
Carers have important legal rights under Irish law. If you think your rights as a carer have been breached, you can make a complaint to the Labour Relations Commission under the Carer’s Leave Act, 2001 (pdf).
For more information on the Carer’s Benefit, contact your local Social Welfare Office or: Carer’s Benefit Section
For more information and current application criteria please see Citizens Information.
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Social Welfare Services Office
Tel : 043 334 0000
LoCall: 1890 927 770
Information on Carers Leave from employment is available from:
National Employment Rights Authority
Tel : 059 917 8990
Local: 1890 80 90
Domiciliary Care Allowance
This allowance is a great help to parents to allow them to help their child and pay for some of the additional costs that are incurred due to their child’s disability.
The forms can be found here:
When completing the application, remember to:
- Please fully complete the form. E.g. make sure it is explained fully the extra 24 hour care and attention your child with Autism or Aspergers needs over and above another typical child.
- It is important to ensure that you emphasise the way in which your child has needs requiring more attention/time than a typically developing peer.
- Some parents keep a diary of a typical day with their child including the help their child needs with basic tasks such as toileting, dressing and feeding, the extra attention required to ensure the safety of the child, the additional assistance the child needs to communicate and interact.
- In the case of a child with more mild autism, the additional time and attention required to complete schoolwork, the need to function from schedules and difficulties the child has with processing information and with organisational tasks that require additional assistance.
- Please send all supporting information with your first application.
- Take a copy of everything before sending.
- The person receiving this form does not know your child or family life so in order to help them make a fair assessment of the application it is vital to ensure that the form is fully completed.
If your application is not successful in the first instance remember there is an appeals process.
Free travel is available to recipients of Disability Allowance or a Carers Allowance, as well as other benefits.
It is also possible to apply a Companion Travel Pass, which allows the person with the disability to be accompanied by a companion with free travel.
You can find information on how to apply for a free travel pass, and/or a companion free travel pass at Citizens Information.
You may also contact:
Pension Services Office
College Road, Sligo
or any post office.
Home Support is a service administered through the Disability Services Team within the Health Services Executive. All families who have a family member with a disability living with them, and who are known to one of the teams, are entitled to an assessment for the service.
The assessment is carried out by the social worker on the team. This entails discussion around what support services exist for the family and within their extended family and in the wider community, what particular care needs the individual with a disability has and how home support might alleviate the situation.
For some families, home support is provided to give parents/carers a break, to spend time with other children in the family or to allow a parent to follow a particular programme by freeing them up to work with the person with disability.
The home support arrangement is reviewed on a regular basis by the social worker. This allows for discussion on any difficulties or issues that have arisen, any training needs that have been identified, and any changes to the hours or arrangement in general.
Home support workers do not work bank holidays except in exceptional circumstances. They have annual leave and sickness entitlement. During such leave, there is generally no replacement home support.
The home support worker can be nominated by the family and in certain circumstances a relative can be used.
Otherwise the social worker recruits a home support worker preferably within a close distance of the family home.
Preschool assistants provided to work with a child in pre-school are paid from the home support budget.
In some instances, home support workers have accompanied families on holidays whereby an agreement was made as to how many hours were being paid for and from which budget.
Home support workers are not allowed to look after the child or young person they are caring for in their own home nor are they allowed to take them in their car.
It varies widely from county to county how this is administered and there are variations to the rules in each area. It is best to contact your team or social worker to understand how Home Support is applied in your area.
You can also apply to your local Public Health Nurse or Social Worker for Home Support.
If you would like to avail of home support services, contact your local health centre.
Home Tuition Grant
The home tuition grant was originally meant to provide a teacher in the home of a child who, because of disability or illness, was unable to attend school. Children with autism can now avail of this grant to provide tuition if there is no school placement available. The current allocation is 10 hours between 2.5 and 3 years old, then 20 hours for children age 3+.
Acceptable Qualifications for Home Tuition Providers
As tuition takes place outside the usual school structure it is important that home tutors are qualified to provide an educational programme. Accordingly, it is a condition of the scheme that parents must recruit a fully qualified teacher who is registered with the Teaching Council of Ireland.
Where all efforts have failed to secure the services of a teacher qualified to teach in the sector concerned, the Department may consider the engagement of a person who is registered with the Teaching Council and has a primary degree (minimum Level 7 on the National Framework of Qualifications) in a relevant area, e.g. Psychology.
The Home Tuition Form can be downloaded from www.education.ie.
The 2015/16 Home Tuition application form and guidelines can be found here.
For more information contact:
Special Education Section at 0902-74621 or 01-8734700
Citizens Information for information on special needs education in primary schools
You can find information on your local SENO here
Source – Department of Education & Skills
Long-Term Illness Scheme
In the past if a child has a single diagnosis of autism they were not eligible under this scheme. However, people with a diagnosis which includes intellectual disability may be able to claim for certain drugs.
It has come to our attention that many people with Autism who have not received a Medical Card have successfully applied for a Long Term Illness Card.
It is useful for medical items e.g. if your OT recommended a special chair to help with posture they might be able to purchase the chair from the long term illness budget if your child has a long term illness card.
More information can be found at:
HSE – Your Guide to the Long-Term Illness Scheme
Citizens Information Long-Term Illness Scheme
There is a list of illnesses which automatically qualify for a medical card. This was drawn up a number of years ago and unfortunately, Autism is not on the list. However, many people with autism have successfully obtained medical cards.
The best procedure is to apply for the medical card for your child. If you are refused, appeal and perhaps contact Citizens Advice or local politicians to help your case.
It is important to remember that the full form has to be completed, i.e. even if you are applying for your child on the basis of their diagnosis, full financial information has to be completed for the family.
Please ensure you clearly mark on the form and accompanying letter that you are applying on the basis of your child’s medical needs.
As in all applications, ensure a copy of your child’s diagnosis is attached.
To apply for a medical card, contact your local health center for application forms. You can also find more information at Citizens Information.
Respite Care Grant
Respite is a term generally associated with providing families with a break from caring. Grant Aid is also given to community groups to provide places on summer schemes. Families can make a particular request e.g in relation to summer holidays where they might need extra assistance of help with costs.
Respite requests are made through your Social Worker and are assessed on basis of need. All Home Support and Respite Care workers must have both Garda and health clearance before they can take up employment.
Contact: Your Social Worker
Respite Care Grant
An annual payment automatically paid to all carers in receipt of DCA and Carers Allowance.
Further information at www.welfare.ie
Tax Credits and Allowances
Incapacitated Child Tax Credit
This Tax Credit can be claimed by the parents of a child with a permanent disability. To apply use the application form at the end of the page. It is important to state whether the Allowance is being claimed for previous years. Advisable to send copy of diagnosis/Psychologists Report for backup.
Further Information from: Revenue.ie
Home Carers Tax Credit
Available where one person works in the home caring for a dependent child.
Health/Medical Expenses Relief (Med 1)
This is a general allowance which covers all family members for expenses not covered by private health insurance. Under certain conditions it may cover Speech & Language, Psychologists and OT. This can be claimed retrospectively each year on the MED 1 form.
You may claim tax relief on a Form MED 1, at the standard rate of tax (20%), from 1 January 2009 (with the exception of nursing home expenses for which tax relief is still available at your highest rate of tax) for certain medical expenses incurred by you, on your own behalf or on behalf of another person. Most medical expenses, with some exceptions e.g. routine dental and ophthalmic care, qualify for relief.
You cannot claim relief for any expenditure which has been or will be reimbursed, e.g. by Hibernian Aviva Health, Quinn-healthcare, VHI, a Health Authority, or where a compensation payment is made or will be made.
Please note that this like all TAX Credits and reliefs can be claimed retrospectively with a four year limit at the rates that applied in those tax years.
Many medical and therapy expenses are allowable on the Med 1 form. This and all other forms can be downloaded from www.revenue.ie. You do not have to send in receipts but keep them at home in case of inspection. It is best to complete the form as clearly as possible and also send a cover letter explaining your child’s diagnosis and a copy of the diagnostic report. This is well worth claiming, especially if you are a higher rate taxpayer, as it is one of the few reliefs allowable at the higher rate.
If you have a private medical insurance then you must claim from them first and then claim the balance of unrecovered expenses on the Med 1 form.
All the medical expenses of the family are allowable although the first 125 per year of an individual or 250 of a family is excluded. The following are examples of what can be claimed:
- Doctors & Consultants Bills
- Unreimbursed Hospital Expenses
- Drugs and medicines (prescribed)
- Supply and repair of medical and surgical appliances used on medical advice (Note you can also reclaim the VAT on items like these but if you do this then can only offset the net amount on the Med 1.
- Speech Therapy (remember to see what your private insurance will pay for first)
- Occupational Therapy
Note the threshold for the drugs payment scheme is 70 euro per month so therefore generally expenses over this amount can be claimed.
You can get more information on what you are eligible to claim at Revenue.ie.
If you have a disability and as a result, need to use certain aids and appliances, you can avail of a refund of Value-Added Tax (VAT). People with both physical and mental disabilities can avail of these VAT refunds.
Aids and appliances for which a VAT refund may be claimed are aids and appliances that help a disabled person to overcome his or her disability in the exercise of a vocation or the performance of daily activities.
The aid or appliance must be owned by and for the exclusive use of the person with the disability. If the VAT refund is being sought by a person other than the user of the aid or appliance, the Revenue Commissioners may demand evidence that the aid is solely owned by and for the sole use of the person with the disability.
Examples of eligible aids and appliances include:
- Braille books
- Hoists and lifts designed for incapacitated people, including stair lifts.
- Communication aids
- With relation to Autism VAT relief can be claimed on items such as computers, laptops and printers if these are purchased either to make communication aids for the person with Autism or for the person with Autism to use themselves to support communication
- It may be necessary to produce medical evidence of person’s disability
You can get a claim form VAT 61A from Revenue.ie
You must make your claim within four years from the end of the taxable period to which the claim relates.
More information can be found at Citizens Information