Wednesday, 1 December 2004

Ceisteanna (150, 151)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

179 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the requalification period for benefit payments after a claim has expired. [31734/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

A person may requalify for unemployment benefit if his or her full unemployment benefit entitlement has expired and he or she has paid 13 contributions at the appropriate class. The person may pay these 13 contributions at any time after he or she has exhausted his or her entitlement to unemployment benefit. Alternatively, if he or she finds a total of 13 weeks work between the 157th day and the 390th day of his or her unemployment benefit claim, then he or she may requalify for unemployment benefit immediately when his or her original claim is exhausted after 390 days.

In such cases, the claim is treated as a new claim for unemployment benefit. The usual three waiting days apply and the person must satisfy all of the other statutory conditions for receipt of unemployment benefit. For example, he or she must have at least 39 reckonable contributions paid or credited in the governing contribution year or, alternatively, at least 26 reckonable contributions paid in both the governing contribution year and the year immediately preceding that. In the case of disability benefit, if a person has a total of 260 weeks contributions paid, five years, since starting work, disability benefit can continue for as long as he or she is unfit for work and under age 66. No requalification period applies to such cases.

If a person has between 52 and 259 weeks PRSI paid, disability benefit may be paid for up to 52 weeks. At the end of this period, he or she can requalify for benefit after working and paying PRSI contributions for 26 weeks, or a smaller number if it brings the total paid to 260.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

180 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the earnings disregard in respect of a spouse’s income and in respect of parents’ income when assessing entitlement to social welfare assistance payments; when the cash thresholds used were last revised; the age at which parents’ income ceases to be reckonable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31735/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

In assessing an applicant's means for unemployment assistance purposes, account is taken of the benefit derived where a person is living with a parent or step-parent in the family home and is aged 26 years or under. The value of board and lodging enjoyed by an applicant is determined by reference to the parental income. Parents' income from all sources is taken into consideration for this purpose with the exception of payments made by this Department and the health boards.

Parental income is not assessed in any case other than unemployment assistance. Parental income for this purpose includes gross income less tax, PRSI, health insurance contributions, superannuation and union dues. Rent or mortgage repayments and reasonable travelling expenses are disregarded where appropriate and a parental allowance of €33.32, for a two-parent family, or €120.63, for a one-parent family, is also deducted. The balance is then divided by the number of non-earning members of the household and the figure arrived at is applied as means to the unemployment assistance applicant.

The maximum assessment that can be applied to any applicant in respect of the value of free board and lodging is limited to 17% of net parental income. In addition, where a person returns to the parental home having had an independent lifestyle for at least three years, the assessment is limited to €7.00 per week, irrespective of parental income. Where a person's means are derived solely from the value of board and lodging in the family home and where he or she is entitled to a minimum payment, that payment is increased to €40.00 per week.

Social welfare legislation provides for the assessment of income from a spouse or partner's earnings in the calculation of means for social assistance purposes. In assessing the means, account is taken of the spouse or partner's gross earnings from insurable employment, less income tax, PRSI, health insurance contributions, superannuation and union dues. In most schemes, a disregard of €38.09 plus travelling expenses or €88.88 of the spouse or partner's earnings from employment is applied, depending on the level of employment. The balance is then halved and assessed as means. Income disregards from the spouse or partner's earnings were last revised in March 2000. Where the spouse or partner is self-employed, earnings are assessed as gross income less expenses necessarily incurred.