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Guide to Carer’s Allowance and Benefit  


Life can be unfair. Things can and do change in the blink of an eye. Suddenly finding yourself having to provide full-time home care and home help for a loved one is one of those life-changing moments. Apart from the emotional impact, there’s the real financial burden to consider. It can be very scary but support is available. Read on to find out more on Carer’s Allowance and Carers Benefit. 

Carer’s Allowance Explained 

Carer’s Allowance is an amount paid to people on lower incomes who are providing full-time home care and home help for someone. The person may be in need due to: 
  1. A disability 
  2. Their age   
  3. A physical or mental illness 

Who Qualifies for Carer’s Allowance?   

You must be over 18 and habitually resident in the Irish State. Neither you nor the person you’re caring for can be living in a convalescent home or similar type of institution. You must be living with or in a position to offer full-time care and attention to the person involved.   There may also be times when the person you’re caring for is undergoing medical or other kinds of treatment. Provided this is for no more than 13 weeks, the state may still see you as providing full-time care and attention.

What if I Work a Few Hours a Week or Receive Social Welfare Payments? 

You must not be working, self-employed, or on any kind of educational/training course for longer than 18.5 hours a week.  If you do work or are attending a course for 18.5 hours or less, there is a condition attached. This is that you must be able to prove that the person you are caring for has adequate care in your absence. Comfort Keepers’ Healthcare Assistants may be able to help.  You will also have to satisfy a Means Test. This will look at your income and that of your spouse or partner. The results will have a bearing on the size of any Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit allowance granted.  You may already be getting certain social welfare payments. If so, you will be able to keep your principal social welfare payment and get the “half-rate” Carer’s Allowance too.

What about the Person I’m Caring For? 

You’ll need to consider their circumstances as well as your own to apply for . They must be either: 
  • Over 16 and in need of full-time care and attention 
  • Under 16 and receiving Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) 
Whatever their age, they must either:  
  • Require constant supervision to prevent endangering themselves  
  • Need frequent help during the day with normal bodily functions  
 They must be likely to need full-time care and attention for at least a year. If the person goes full-time into a nursing home, payment of the allowance may continue for a period of 12 weeks. You’ll need to get a letter from the nursing home confirming the admittance date.  

How Much Is Carer’s Allowance? 

Here are the maximum personal full weekly rates of payment someone can receive:  Carers aged Under 66: €219   Carers aged 66 and over: €225   Increase for qualified child under 12: €38   Increase for qualified child over 12: €45   
  • Simply divide the maximum full weekly rates by 2 for the equivalent “half-rates”  

How Do I Apply for Carer’s Allowance? 

Fill in the CR1 application form. Here is the link:  Include a doctor’s medical report that the person you will be caring for should also sign. You do not need a medical report if you are caring for a child who is getting DCA.  

Carer’s Benefit Explained 

This benefit is for insured people who have to leave work or decrease their hours to look after those in need of full-time care. It is payable for up to 2 years that you can split into separate periods.   You may need to make a claim for Carer’s Benefit for less than 6 weeks in a row in any single period. If so, you must wait for an additional 6 weeks before claiming for the same person again.   You may also be caring for more than one person. In this instance, you will still get a payment for 2 years for each person you care for even if the periods overlap.  Carer’s Benefit is €220 a week per single care recipient. Someone caring for two or more people may receive a higher rate of €330 a week. If you have children you may be able to apply for an Increase for a Qualified Child. 

Who Qualifies? 

You must be over 16 years old and have been in employment for at least 8 weeks in the previous 6 months before starting Carer’s leave.   You must also have been working a minimum of 16 hours a week (or 32 hours a fortnight) within the same 26 weeks. The maximum you can earn is €332.50 a week after tax.  The person receiving the care must have a disability that meets the full-time care and attention conditions. 

Can I Work at All and Still Get Carer’s Benefit? 

You can’t work even voluntarily or pursue any training that takes up more than 18.5 hours a week. The limit used to be 15 hours a week.    Neither you nor the person you’re caring for can be living in a hospital or similar institution. You must be living with or able to give full-time care and attention to the person needing care. You must meet all social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.   If you look after a child who qualifies for DCA, you might still be able to get Carer’s Benefit. It’s not necessary to be the person who receives this allowance to be the child’s carer. If you go away, you must be able to organise sufficient full-time care and attention while absent. 

How Do I Apply for Carer’s Benefit? 

It’s best to apply for Carer’s Benefit at least 6 weeks before leaving work. Include a doctor’s report that the person you will be caring for countersigns. You can download the application form here: 

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