Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit

I recently got an email from a woman whose youngest son is on the Autism spectrum. She is working full time and was hoping to reduce her hours as her son now needs more care. In this article, I will explain the options but first before anyone can get additional entitlements you must be in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance. Provided this is in place then two options are available. She can apply for Carer’s Benefit (€205 per week) which isn’t Means Tested, but is based on your PRSI contribution. She must have been employed for at least 8 weeks in the previous 26 week period. She must not be engage in employment or education courses for more than 15-hours a week. The maximum she can earn during that period is €324 per week. During her absence, adequate care for her Autistic son must be arranged. Parents can receive this payment for up to 2 years and it is possible to take it in various blocks of time. If you have a second child with special needs, again you could claim Carer’s Benefit for a further 2 years.

The second option is Carer's Allowance (€204 per week) which has similar rules to Carer’s Benefit but is Means Tested. When you apply, your family’s income, savings and assets will be taken in to consideration. But the major benefit is that parents can have Carer’s Allowance for more than 2-years. When you are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance you also qualify for additional entitlements that you won’t receive on Carer’s Benefit such as household benefit package.

One further note to add is that both Carer’s Allowance and Benefit are taxable source of income and need to be declared to the Revenue for you to remain tax compliant. This is an issue I see with lots of families who have never declared and will be fined if discovered.

These are the two main options available to parents who want to reduce their hours at work or stop working altogether. The pros and cons of both benefits need to be analysed before deciding on what option suits your family best. Your child’s development stage should also be considered and when would your son/daughter benefit most from you been able to provide that additional care.

The final consideration is the financial impact of reducing your hour will have on your current income and future pension entitlements. A drop in wages can cause a lot of stress if parent start to struggle to pay their bills so consider all angles and make a decision.

This article was prepared by Allan Cuthbert, a Special Needs Financial Planner. If you have a financial question, feel free to email allan@financialwellbeing.ieor call 021 482 3635. For more information about special needs financial planning, check outwww.financialwellbeing.ie

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SPECIAL NEEDS SAVING PLANS
What I often find is parents are obsessed with providing for their children with special needs but neglect their own financial position. Parents are constantly paying out money each month to get their children the best care possible to increase their quality of life but often neglecting their own financial situation.
Every day, parents are faced with the additional financial pressures of paying for things such as therapies, medications and medical devices. Added to this are regular bills such as mortgages, loans and household expenses.
At some stage parents must realise that their children with special needs and their own personal financial situation are tied together. By parents securing their own future, they will also help to create a much brighter future for all.
One big step parents can take is setting up a Special Needs Saving Plan
Parents tend to think “well you need a lot of money first, to start a Special Needs Saving Plan” this is not the case with most parents I meet.
Special Needs Saving Plans are a must for parents who want to build future financial security. A Special Needs Saving Plancanpay for future professional fees, unforeseen medical expenses, therapies and improve your child’s quality of life.
The three key steps to successful building up a Special Needs Saving Planare;

  1. Habit of Saving – All parents have to get in to the habit of saving even if it is only €10 a week. I recommend setting aside a proportion of the Domiciliary Care Allowance each month and diverting it in to a separate account.

  1. Don’t add your child to the plan!–If you name your child on any saving plan then this potential will cause issues. If your child grows up to be reliant on a state payment such as disability allowance then having money in their name can jeopardise their future entitlements. If your child has an intellectual disability then they can run in to additional issues when trying to get access to their money later in life.

  1. Risky Investment – I nearly always find that parents don’t realise the risk attached to investing their money. All investment products come with a warning “You may get back less than you put in.” There is a reason for this and unfortunate hundreds of families have found this out over the last few years.Before ever handing your money over to a Bank or Financial Advisor you first have to understand the underlying risk involved and read the small print. Look out for hidden charges such as management fees, government levies, taxes and penalties.

Regular savings will lead to more financial security and will create a brighter financial future for all the family. Take action today by looking at your bank accounts and seeing what is an affordable level of savings that you can put away for the future.
This article was prepared by Allan Cuthbert, a Special Needs Financial Planner. If you like to find out more about Special Needs Saving Plans, feel free to email allan@financialwellbeing.ie or call 021 482 3635. For more information about Special Needs Financial Planning, check out www.financialwellbeing.ie