Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care. You may be entitled to credited social insurance contributions (PRSI) while you are getting CA.
The Treatment Benefit Scheme is available to insured workers, the self-employed and retired people who have the required number of PRSI contributions.
In order to qualify for credits wile in receipt of CA, a person must first have entered insurable employment - he or she must have paid at least one reckonable PRSI contribution at Class A, B, C, D, E, H or P.
If, at any stage since starting work, a person has no reckonable PRSI contributions paid or credited for 2 full tax years in a row, that person cannot get credits until they return to employment and pay reckonable PRSI contributions for 26 weeks. Contributions paid at Class S, i.e. as a self-employed person, cannot be used to satisfy this condition.
Any changes to the Treatment Benefit Scheme would need to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.