Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Ceisteanna (722)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

722. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the different means test arrangements in place under various social welfare legislation in respect of persons making applications for the carer's allowance versus disability allowance and other payments; if different rules apply regarding the valuation of a second house or property; if the net value of the property having taken into account an outstanding mortgage is taken into account for capital purposes; if the rental income from such properties in other cases is deemed to be the relevant income for the means test; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53216/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides that all income and property belonging to an applicant (and his or her spouse/partner, where applicable) is assessable for means testing purposes for social assistance schemes, such as Disability Allowance and Carer's Allowance.

Income disregards are in place for both Disability Allowance and Carer's Allowance.  Carer’s Allowance has a general weekly income disregard of €332.50 for a single person and €665 for a couple.

When assessing income from employment, PRSI, Union dues and superannuation or contributions to a pension fund are always deducted. How earnings are assessed depends on the scheme.  From next January, One Parent Family and Jobseekers Transitional Payment recipients will have the first €165 of earnings disregarded, with half the balance assessed as means.  For Jobseekers Allowance, the disregard is €20 per day for a maximum of three days, with the remainder assessed at 60%.  The table below outlines specific disregards for earnings from employment for various schemes:

Scheme

Earnings Disregard

Remainder of earnings assessed at:

Disability Allowance 

€120

50%

Blind Pension 

€120

50%

Jobseeker’s Allowance  

€60

60%

One Parent Family Allowance/Jobseekers Transitional Payment 

€165

50%

Most schemes, apart from Carer's Allowance (as there is a general disregard) do not assess housing costs for maintenance received up to €95.23 per week.  There is also a disregard on income from property partly occupied by the claimant.

There are many other forms of income that are excluded for all schemes such as compensation awards by way of the Residential Institutions Redress Board established under Section 3 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 (No. 13 of 2002).  There are also additional items which do not count as means for specific schemes such as for Jobseeker's Allowance, Disability Allowance and Farm Assist – e.g., the maintenance portion of a SUSI Higher Education Maintenance Grant.

Carer’s Allowance and Disability Allowance both value capital and property in the same way.  However, after the amount of capital has been calculated, the amount of capital which is disregarded differs.

The table below outlines the formula used for determining weekly means from capital for most schemes, apart from Disability Allowance and Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

Scheme

Earnings Disregard

Remainder of earnings assessed at:

Disability Allowance 

€120

50%

Blind Pension 

€120

50%

Jobseeker’s Allowance  

€60

60%

One Parent Family Allowance/Jobseekers Transitional Payment 

€165

50%

 

For Disability Allowance the formula is:

Formula

Weekly Means

First €20,000

Nil

Next €10,000

€1 per €1,000

Next €10,000

€2 per €1,000

Excess of €40,000

€4 per €1,000

For Supplementary Allowance the formula is: 

Formula

Weekly Means

First €5,000 

Nil

Next €10,000 

€1 per €1,000

Next €25,000 

€2 per €1,000

Excess of €40,000

€4 per €1,000

The value of the family home, regardless of who is the legal owner, is never taken into account in the means assessment.

A property which is not personally used by a claimant is assessed on the capital value of the property. Any income from letting the property will not be assessed.  Any outstanding mortgage registered against the property is deducted from the market value to find the capital value.  For all second homes the property must be capable of being sold, let or put to profitable use before a capital value assessment is applied.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. Further details can be found on citizensinformation.ie and welfare.ie websites.