One-Parent Family Payment and half rate Maternity Benefit
If you are pregnant and expect to be parenting alone without the support of a partner then you may be eligible for both the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and a half of Maternity Benefit, once you meet the necessary conditions of each payment.
You can apply for the OFP as soon as your baby is born and, once assessed, then if the payment is awarded then you may receive a full rate of OFP (dependent on the means test) and also a half rate of Maternity Benefit, whilst on maternity leave from work.
If you return to work after 26 weeks of maternity leave then you may still be eligible for the One-Parent Family Payment, depending on your income from employment, as the first €165 of earnings are ignored for the purposes of OFP. Half of your income from employment, of more than €165 per week, is assessed as means and therefore a reduced payment of OPF may be made, in addition to your earnings from work.
If you take additional unpaid maternity leave of up to 16 weeks then whilst your Maternity Benefit will end after 26 weeks you could retain payment of the OFP during this time and beyond, pending your income and return to work.
One-Parent Family Payment and a half rate Carer’s Allowance
Caring for an adult or child
If you are parenting alone and caring for an adult (such as a parent or sibling) or your child (for whom Domiciliary Care Allowance is payable), they you may qualify for both One-Parent Family Payment and half-rate Carer’s Allowance until your youngest child is 16, provided you continue to meet the qualifying conditions for both payments. You can also receive an increase for any other qualified children up until the age of 18 (or 22 if in full time education), whilst half-rate Carer’s Allowance and One Parent Family Payment is being paid.
If you are applying for Carer’s Allowance in respect of one of your children then, should you qualify, you may be entitled to both payments until the youngest child is 16. When the child for whom you are receiving Carer’s Allowance reaches the age of 16, the child may then qualify for Disability Allowance in their own right. A parent who is still caring full-time for the child may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance, without the child who is receipt of Disability Allowance, being included as a qualifying child.
As a carer you may receive a Free Travel Pass. This will allow you to travel free on any public transport. However, it is only for you and does not entitle anyone else to travel free if they are accompanying you. If you are a carer and living with the person you are caring for, you may qualify for the Household Benefits Package, which includes an allowance towards Electricity, Natural Gas or Bottled Gas Refill Allowance and a Free TV Licence.
You will not qualify for the Fuel Allowance on Carer’s Allowance alone, but if you are on another payment such as OPF you can qualify for it. The person you are caring for may be entitled to Fuel Allowance in their own right also. Fuel Allowance is paid, generally between the months of October and April, to people on certain long term social welfare payments. It is to assist people on low incomes with heating their home. It is a payment of €28 (from January 2021) per week on top of the usual payment. It may sometimes be extended for a few weeks, if the winter has been an especially harsh one.
Carer’s leave allows for employees, who have been working for their employer for a minimum of 12 months, to leave their work on a temporary basis, in order to provide full time care and attention to someone in need. The minimum is 13 weeks and the maximum is 104 weeks. Carer’s leave is unpaid leave however you may be eligible for either Carer’s Benefit, if you meet the requirements for PRSI contributions or you may qualify for Carer’s Allowance, which is means tested. You do not have to be eligible for either of these payments in order to take Carer’s leave.