OVER – 70’S: SOCIAL PROTECTION ENTITLEMENTS
Disclaimer: The information below was garnered from a variety of print and online sources and, while every effort was made to ensure the sources were/are reputable, no guarantee of accuracy can be given and this document represents, at most, an amateur’s best effort.
Formerly known as the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection administers over 70 schemes including pensions, benefits, allowances and grants. For information on the schemes please contact the Department at College Street, Sligo, telephone 071.91903313 or LoCall 1890 66 22 44 or visit www.welfare.ie.
Public Services Cards have been introduced to help you access a range of public services easily. For information contact your local Citizens Information Service or Client Identity Services, Shannon Lodge, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, 071.976 2616 or 1890 927999 or https://psc.gov.ie.
• APPLYING FOR A PENSION
There are two types of state pensions, one based on your PRSI contributions and one that is means tested. Application forms are available from your local social welfare office, post office or Citizens Information Centre. Completed forms should be sent at least three months before the State Pension age, currently 66, to the Department of Social Protection, Pension Services Office, College Road, Sligo, 071.915 7100, LoCall 1850 500 000. For information on the criteria for qualifying for the State pension, contact your local Citizens Information Centre.
If you have worked in Ireland and one or more EU states or a non-EU state with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement, you may qualify for a pension from both countries. Details of how to apply for a pension from another EU or EEA country are available on the Dept. Social Protection site at: https://m.welfare.ie/en/Pages/EU-Pension---How-to-claim-from-another-EEA-Country.aspx.
You can have your pension paid into your bank account or you can collect it from the post office. You can arrange for someone to collect your pension if you are unable to do so. You can also claim for your spouse if he/she is not working or on low income even if under 66 years.
People who leave the workforce for periods spent caring can have gaps in their insurance records which can affect their entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory) at age 66. The Homemaker's scheme, introduced in April 1994, allows for periods spent providing full-time care to children up to 12 years of age or an incapacitated person to be taken into account for pension purposes. It does not provide social welfare payments while homemaking.
• AGE 80 ALLOWANCE
Pensioners receiving an Irish social welfare pension automatically receive an increase in the personal rate of the pension when they reach the age of 80.
• HOUSEHOLD BENEFITS PACKAGE
The Household Benefits Package is made up of two allowances, Electricity or Gas Allowance, and Free Television Licence. These allowances provide contributions towards your electricity or natural gas bills or bottled gas refill and covers the cost of your Television Licence each year. The electricity/gas allowances can be paid to your bank account or against your energy bills. The package is available to people aged over 70 who are resident in the State and to people under age 70 who are also resident in the State in certain circumstances. Only one person in a household can qualify for the package at any time.
• FREE TRAVEL
Everyone aged 66 and over living permanently in the State is entitled to the Free Travel Scheme. Some people under 66 also qualify. If you qualify for free travel, you are issued with a card that you must carry with you when using public transport. In some cases, a Free Travel Companion Card is available which allows a person to travel with the holder (if they are unable to travel alone). Free travel passes are non-transferrable and can only be used by the named person. The Free Travel Card will issue automatically if you have confirmed your identity for the issuance of a Public Services Card. Your Free Travel Card will take the form of a new Public Services Card.
• FUEL ALLOWANCE
A Fuel Allowance is a payment under the National Fuel Scheme to help with the cost of heating your home. It is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. Only one Fuel Allowance is paid to a household. You may qualify for a Fuel Allowance if you are getting:
• State Pension (Contributory) or State Pension (Non-Contributory)
• State Pension (Transition)
• Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension or Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension
• Incapacity Supplement under the Occupational Injuries Benefit scheme
• Blind Pension
• Invalidity Pension
• Disability Allowance
• Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance
• One-Parent Family Payment
• Guardian's Payment (Contributory) or Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
• Farm Assist
• Pre-Retirement Allowance
• Prisoner's Wife's Allowance
• Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (15 months)
• WIDOW’S/WIDOWER’S PENSION
Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension is a weekly payment to the husband, wife or civil partner of a deceased person. This payment was formerly called the Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension. Either you or your deceased spouse or civil partner must have enough social insurance contributions (PRSI). To qualify you must, of course, be a widow, widower or surviving civil partner and you must not be cohabiting with another person. The pension is payable regardless of other income. Since 27 December 2013, new applicants for Widow's, Widow(er)'s Contributory Pension and Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension need 260 paid PRSI contributions to qualify (previously 156 contributions were required). You may combine your insurance record in another EU/EEA country with your Irish PRSI contributions to help you qualify for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension. You cannot get a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension at the same time as a State Pension (Contributory). If you are entitled to both payments, you will be paid whichever is the higher amount. Under the Occupational Injuries Scheme, a widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's pension may be payable if the death was due to an occupational injury or disease. Applications for the pension should be addressed to the Department of Social Protection at the Sligo address.
• MEDICAL CARDS: (Apply on-line to the HSE at https://www.mymedicalcard.ie/)
If you are 70 or over you qualify for a medical card, if your gross income is:
- not more than €500 a week if you are single
- not more than €900 a week for a couple
- If you are 70 or over you qualify for a GP visit card, if your gross income is:
- over €500 but not greater than €700 if you are single
- over €900 but not greater than €1,400 a week if you are part of a couple
- You can't include expenses such as rent, medicines and healthcare costs in your application.
- For Couples: If one of you is aged 70 or older, you will both qualify for a medical card, if your combined gross income is €900 or less a week.
- If one of you is aged 70 or older, you will both qualify for a GP visit card, if your combined gross income is over €900, but not greater than €1,400 a week.
• OVER 70S GP VISIT CARD
If you are over 70 you can register for a GP visit card, regardless of income. You can apply to the HSE at https://www.sspcrs.ie/portal/free-gp-70-web/pub.
• DEATHS & BURIALS
Guidance in the case of a death can be found at: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/death/after_a_death/. It explains the process involved in registering a death, organising a funeral and explores the options of a burial versus a cremation. (see also end of document)
Information on making a will, power of attorney, legal arrangements for incapacity and advance healthcare directives can be found at: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/death/before_a_death/.
• MONEY MATTERS AFTER A DEATH
Information on (1) access to money after a death; (2) financial support when someone dies; (3) Widow’s, Widower’s Pension; (4) Standard Bereavement Grant; (5) Death Benefits under the Occupational Injuries Scheme; (6) Income tax credits and reliefs following a death; (7) Capital Acquisitions Tax can be found at: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/death/money_matters_after_a_death/.
https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/death/bereavement_counselling_and_support/ also offers guidance on bereavement counselling and support services.
• THE “FAIR DEAL” SCHEME.
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS), also known as the “Fair Deal”, provides financial support to people who need long-term nursing home care. The scheme is operated by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Under this scheme, you make a contribution towards the cost of your care and the State pays the balance. The scheme covers approved private nursing homes, voluntary nursing homes and public nursing homes. You can get the list of approved nursing homes from the HSE by post or online.
Anyone who is ordinarily resident in the State and is assessed as needing long-term nursing home care can apply for the scheme. When you apply for the scheme your care needs are assessed to confirm that long-term nursing home care is the most appropriate option for you.
Your financial situation is also assessed to see how much you will have to contribute towards your nursing home fees. If your contribution is less than the amount of the fees, the HSE will pay the rest.
Assets, such as savings and property, are taken into account when assessing your financial situation. You can apply for the Nursing Home Loan if you want to defer making the part of your contribution that is based on your home or other property.
The scheme covers long-term nursing home care only. It does not cover short-term care such as respite, convalescent care or day care although these types of services may be provided in some nursing homes.
The Act defines “long-term residential care services” as maintenance, health and personal care services. The Department of Health has further clarified that this includes: bed and board, nursing and personal care appropriate to the level of care needs of the person, laundry service, and basic aids and appliances necessary to assist a person with the activities of daily living. Other goods and services may be available under schemes such as the Medical Card or Drugs Payment Scheme. There is a set level of funding for the scheme each year, so there may be situations where a person’s name must go onto a waiting list until funding becomes available. If this is the case, the HSE will let you know when it writes to advise you whether you are eligible for State support.
Further details on this scheme are on the HSE and D/Health websites and also on: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/health/health_services/health_services_for_older_people/nursing_homes_support_scheme_1.html.
• HOME SUPPORT SERVICE
The Health Service Executive (HSE) provides community care and home care supports at local level, including the Home Support Service. This service was previously known as the Home Care Package Scheme. The Home Support Service helps older people to continue living in their own homes for as long as possible. For example, it can provide support with everyday tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and dressing. A person’s individual needs are assessed to decide what supports they need. These supports will be provided by the HSE or by an external provider, approved by the HSE. The Home Support Service is available to people aged 65 or over who may need support to continue living at home or to return home following a hospital stay. The services might be needed due to illness, disability or after a stay in hospital or following rehabilitation in a nursing home. In some cases, the service may be available to people younger than 65 who need support. For example, people with early onset dementia or a disability. There is no charge for the service and the scheme is not means tested. You do not need to have a medical card to apply for the Home Support Service. The services that are provided vary, depending on individual needs. For example, they may include help with everyday tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and dressing. When you apply, the HSE arranges an assessment of the kinds of support you may need. This is called the Care Needs Assessment.
• TAX RELIEF ON NURSING HOME FEES AND FOR DEPENDENT RELATIVES
Income tax relief is available on fees paid for nursing homes. You claim tax relief for nursing home fees under the general scheme for tax relief on medical expenses. Tax relief on nursing home fees applies at the highest rate of income tax that you pay. If you are paying the charges for a nursing home you can claim the tax relief, whether you are in the nursing home yourself or you are paying for another person to be there. Usually you claim the tax relief at the end of the year but in certain circumstances tax relief may be available in the current year through the PAYE system.
• REVENUE COMMISSIONERS
Details of tax allowances and concessions to the over-70s are on the Revenue website at: https://www.revenue.ie/en/life-events-and-personal-circumstances/older-persons/tax-credits-for-older-persons.aspx. The website also provides details of obligations and entitlements involved in the disposal of assets, the provision of gifts and inheritance. The site also details the Dwelling House Exemption which may apply when you leave a dwelling house to a beneficiary under the terms of your will.
More broadly than above, you can find details on Income supports for older people at: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/older_and_retired_people/income_supports_for_older_people.html.
The same site provides guidance in the event of a death or bereavement at: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/death/. The support provided includes guidance on (1) Before a death; (2) Sudden or unexplained death; (3) Practical arrangements after a death; (4) Money matters after a death: (5) The deceased's estate: (6) Bereavement counselling and support.
Lastly, the Citizens Information Phone Service (CIPS) is a nationwide service that can be reached on 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm.
18th July, 2019.