Advice on benefits you are entitled to - part 2

By Jonathan Acton; jonathan.acton@homeinstead.ie

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is a payment to people on low incomes who are looking after a person who needs support because of age, disability or illness.

If you qualify for a Carer’s Allowance you may also qualify for free household benefits (if you are living with the person you are caring for) and a Free Travel Pass.

If you are providing care to more than one person you may be entitled to an additional 50% of the maximum rate of Carer’s Allowance each week.

Two carers who are providing care on a part-time basis in an established pattern can also share a single Carer’s Allowance payment and the annual Respite Care Grant.

Each carer must be providing care from Monday to Sunday but can do so on alternate weeks. A carer providing full-time care on a part-time basis is required under legislation to provide this care for a complete week.

A carer who is providing care on a part-time basis to someone who attends a residential institution, for example, every other week, can also be accommodated on the Carer’s Allowance scheme.

You must meet all the usual qualifying conditions for Carer’s Allowance. The Carer’s Support Grant (formerly called the Respite Care Grant) is Automatically paid to people getting Carer’s Allowance in June of each year. Carer’s Allowance is a taxable source of income.

Your payment is made up of a personal rate for yourself and extra amounts for any child dependants. You may claim a full-rate increase in your payment for a child dependent if you are a carer and are single, widowed, separated or a civil partner who is not living with the other civil partner.

You may claim a half rate increase in your payment for a child dependent if you are a carer and are living with your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. Carer’s Allowance continues to be paid for 12 weeks after the death of the person being cared for.

If the person being cared for moves permanently into a residential care or nursing home the Carer’s Allowance continues to be paid for a period of 12 weeks.

Carer’s Benefit

Carer’s Benefit is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a person(s) in need of full-time care and attention.

You can get Carer’s Benefit for a total period of 104 weeks for each person being cared for.

This may be claimed as a single continuous period or in any number of separate periods up to a total of 104 weeks.

However, if you claim Carer’s Benefit for less than six consecutive weeks in any given period you must wait for a further six weeks before you can claim Carer’s Benefit to care for the same person again.

If you are caring for more than one person, you may receive payment for each care recipient for 104 weeks. This may result in the care periods overlapping or running concurrently.

The number of hours that a carer can work or study every week outside the home will increase from 15 hours to 18.5 hours (from 6 January 2020).

Tax Implications

Carer’s Benefit is a taxable source of income. You should contact your local tax office if you have any questions.

Home Carer Tax Credit

A Home Carer Tax Credit is a tax credit given to married couples or civil partners (who are jointly assessed for tax) where one spouse or civil partner works in the home caring for a dependent person. The tax you are liable to pay is calculated as a percentage of your income.

A tax credit is deducted from this to give the actual amount of tax that you have to pay. A tax credit has the effect of reducing your payable tax by the amount of the credit. The Home Carer Tax Credit for 2020 is €1,600, an increase of €100 over 2019.

Tax Relief

You can claim tax relief on the cost of employing a professional carer, either if you employ one for yourself, or for another family member. You can employ the carer directly or you can use an agency.

If you employ the carer directly yourself, you should register as an employer and you will be responsible for your employee’s tax and social insurance (PAYE, USC and PRSI), along with other responsibilities, such as contracts of employment, provision of payslips and compliance with minimum wage regulations.

If you pay an agency such as Home Instead Senior Care to provide the carer, they will hold the responsibilities as the employer, but you will still be able to claim tax relief.

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