Fair Deal & Social Protection
Information on the Fair Deal Nursing Home Scheme and the Social Protection Supports available to farmers and farm families
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is a financial support scheme for people who need long-term nursing home care. Under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, you make a contribution towards the cost of your care and the State will pay the balance. This applies whether the nursing home is public, private or voluntary.
Outline of the Scheme
The objectives of the scheme are:
- to provide a uniform system of financial support for individuals in public and private nursing home beds, and
- to ensure that long-term nursing home care is affordable for all. Nursing home care is expensive, typically ranging from €850/week to €1,350/week in private nursing homes.
The scheme is operated by the HSE, and co-funded by the individual and the HSE.
IFA has been campaigning since 2012 for changes to how the scheme operates for farm families, and most recently in October 2016 made a detailed presentation to the Working Group on the Fair Deal Scheme.
HSE Nursing Homes Support Offices
If you have any questions or want independent advice on Nursing Home Scheme entitlements please contact your local HSE Nursing Home Support Office – click here to find yours.
Information is also available from the HSE info line on 1850 24 1850, Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm
Farm Assist is a special means tested income support scheme available to farm families when their income falls below a certain threshold. To qualify for Farm Assist, a farmer must satisfy a means test, and be aged between 18 and 66 years. Qualification for Farm Assist can also lead to the farmer becoming eligible for the Rural Social scheme.
To apply, a farmer must complete a Farm Assist application form (Farm 1), which is available in local offices of the Department of Social Protection.
Following an application to the Department of Social Protection, a local social welfare officer visits the farm and assesses eligibility on the basis of a means test, which takes into account the means of the farmer and spouse/partner, less outgoing and expenses in running the farm. The farmer’s own farm accounts can be used as an indication of farm income but this may not give a true reflection of the current situation. In view of this, IFA has secured a commitment from the Department of Social Protection that in cases of sudden income reduction due to low prices, high cost of feed due to fodder shortage, the current income position can be taken into account in the assessment.
Since 1st January 2007, farmers in receipt of Farm Assist must pay PRSI. If your income is above the insurable threshold of €5,000, your contribution will be 4% of income, subject to a minimum of €500. If it is below this, you may be able to pay voluntary contributions.
The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is aimed at low-income farmers. To qualify for the RSS you must be getting a social welfare payment. In return, people participating in the RSS provide services that benefit rural communities.
The Department of Social Protection has overall responsibility for policy in relation to the Rural Social Scheme, including eligibility criteria. The Department monitors the implementation of the RSS and supports the various bodies that manage the RSS locally. The Department may also inspect any Scheme and visit projects. At a local level, the Scheme is managed by implementing bodies such as local development companies and in the Gaeltacht areas, by Údarás na Gaeltachta.
Under the scheme, you work 19.5 hours per week. These hours are based on a farmer-friendly schedule. This is to ensure participation on the scheme does not affect your farming activities. If you get a place on the Scheme, you are offered a contract from your start date up to the following 31 March. You may be considered for a further term following the initial contract, if you continue to meet all the criteria for the Scheme.
The local management decides on your application. While it is not intended that anyone would remain on the scheme permanently, there is no definite time limit for participation.
If you are eligible for the Scheme but don’t wish to participate, your dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may take the available place. However, this is only if neither of you are participating in any other similar scheme, (for example, the Community Employment Scheme.) The Rural Social Scheme operates independently of the Community Employment Scheme (CE).
Child Benefit is payable to the parents or guardians of children under 16 years of age, or under 18 years of age if the child is in full-time education or has a disability.
For twins, Child Benefit is paid at one and a half times the normal monthly rate for each child. For triplets and other multiple births, Child Benefit is paid at double the normal monthly rate for each child.
The Treatment Benefit Scheme is a scheme run by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) that provides dental, optical and aural services to qualified people.
The Treatment Benefit Scheme is available to insured workers and retired people who have the required number of PRSI contributions. This includes self employed people paying S class PRSI.
You should contact the DSP or your treatment provider to check your eligibility before proceeding with any treatment.
Under the Treatment Benefit Scheme, you may qualify for:
Maternity Benefit is a payment made for up to 26 weeks to women who are on maternity leave and covered by social insurance (PRSI). Maternity benefit is paid at a rate of €230 per week
Paternity Benefit is a payment made to fathers on paternity leave and covered by social insurance (PRSI). Up to two weeks payment is available and you can take the leave and payment at any point during the first six months following birth or adoption.
If you are employed you must have:
- At least 39 weeks PRSI paid in the 12-month period before the first day of your maternity leave, or
- At least 39 weeks PRSI paid since first starting work and at least 39 weeks PRSI paid or credited in the relevant tax year or in the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2015, the relevant tax year is 2013 and the year following that is 2014, or
- At least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the relevant tax year and at least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2015, the relevant tax year is 2013 and the year before that is 2012.
If you do not meet these PRSI conditions and you were self-employed before starting work as an employee, you can use your Class S contributions to qualify for Maternity Benefit – see PRSI conditions for self-employed people below.
If you are self-employed you must be in insurable employment and have:
- 52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2015, the relevant tax year is 2013, or
- 52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2015, the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year is 2012, or
- 52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2015, the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year is 2014.
PRSI Class S contributions for a particular year are not awarded until you have paid tax due for that year. Your income tax and PRSI liabilities (primarily for the relevant tax year) must be paid to qualify.
Self-employed workers, including farmers, who cannot work due to long term illness or disability may be able to claim Invalidity Pension if they have made sufficient PRSI contributions. Invalidity Pension is paid as long as the person continues to satisfy the qualifying conditions.
The Home Care Package (HCP) scheme is an administrative scheme, operated by the HSE. It aims to help people who need medium to high caring support to continue to live at home independently. The Home Care Package scheme is not established in law; as it is an administrative scheme, you do not have an automatic right to the scheme, or to avail of services under the scheme.
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 (including mental illness).
The Mobility Aids Grant Scheme provides grants for works designed to address mobility problems in the home, such as the purchase and installation of grab-rails, a level access shower, access ramps or a stair-lift. It is primarily for older people, but people with disability can also access the scheme.