Carer's Allowance

What is the Carerís Allowance?

The Carer's Allowance is a payment for carers on low incomes who look after certain people who need full-time care and attention. It is a separate scheme from the Carerís Benefit, which is a payment made to insured persons who leave the workforce temporarily in order to care for a person.

How can I qualify?

You will qualify if you, the carer:

  • Are aged 18 or over
  • Satisfy a means test
  • Live with, or are in a position to provide full-time care and attention to the person(s) in need of care
  • Care for the person on a full-time basis
  • Live in the Republic of Ireland
  • Do not live in a hospital, convalescent home or other similar institution.

And if the person you care for is:

  • So disabled that they need full-time care and attention (medical certification is required)
  • Not normally living in a hospital, home or other similar institution
  • Over the age of 16 and so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention, or aged under 16 and in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance.

You must not be engaged in employment, self-employment, training or education courses outside the home for more than 15 hours a week.

What does 'full-time care and attention' mean?

The person(s) being cared for is regarded as requiring full-time care and attention when:

He or she is so incapacitated as to require continuous supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with their normal personal needs. For example, they require help to walk and get about, eat or drink, wash, bathe, dress and so on.

Full-time care and attention also applies to a situation where a person needs continuous supervision in order to avoid danger to themselves.

The person must be so incapacitated as to be likely to require full-time care and attention for at least 12 months.

The person cared for may attend a non-residential course of rehabilitation training or a non-residential day care centre approved by the Minister for Health and Children.

The carer can attend an educational or training course to take up voluntary or community work for up to 15 hours per week. They are also allowed to work part-time as a Home Help for the Health Service Executive for up to 15 hours per week (in which case earning will not be assessed as means), or take up limited self-employment in your home or employment outside your home for up to 15 hours per week (in which case any earnings will be assessed as means).

During the carerís absence, adequate care for the person requiring full-time care and attention must be arranged.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs assesses each requirement to provide full-time care and attention on an individual basis. It is not intended, nor is it desirable, that a carer would be expected to provide care on a 24-hour basis. The Department claims to be flexible in how it applies the guidelines, having due regard to both the needs of the carer and the person requiring care.

You will normally have to live with the person being cared for, but if you can show that a direct system of communication exists between your home and the person you are caring for, and as long as there is nobody else providing full-time care and attention to the person in their own home, you may qualify for Carerís Allowance as a non-resident carer.

What counts as means?

Your means are any income you or your partner have, or property (except your home), or an asset which could bring in money or provide you with an income, such as an occupational pension, stocks and shares, or pensions and benefits from another country.

The first Ä7.60 of means will not affect your payment but for every extra Ä2.50 means you have, your weekly allowance will be reduced by Ä2.50.

The actual income from investments and money in a savings account is not taken as your means. Instead investment items are added together and a special formula is used to work out your means. Investments that count as means include the cash value of investments and property, money in a savings account, and cash-in-hand or in a current account.

If you are single the first Ä20,000 of any investment/savings is ignored. The first Ä290 of your weekly income is also not taken into account. If you are married or cohabiting, you will be assessed based on half of the combined capital held by both of you. The first Ä580 of your combined weekly income will not be taken into account.

These figures apply to any income the carer or partner may have including earnings from employment, occupational pension, capital, savings etc.

The following do not count as means:

  • Your own home.
  • Child Benefit payments.
  • Your partnerís payment from the Department of Social and Family Affairs or from the Health Service Executive
  • Ä133 a year (Ä2.56 a week) of your spouseís or partnerís earnings for each child dependant
  • Income earned as a part-time Home Help with the Health Service Executive
  • Contributions to Personal Retirement Savings Account(s)
  • Your spouse or partnerís social security payment from another country if it is less than or equal to the maximum personal portion of the Non-Contributary State Pension.

How much can I get?

The amount you will get depends on your means. As from January 2006, the maximum weekly rates are Ä180 if you are caring for 1 person and Ä270 if you are caring for 2 people or more. You can also claim increases for any qualified child(ren) and if you are 66 or over.

The Allowance is paid weekly either as a direct payment into your bank account, or by a book of payable orders which can be cashed each week at a Post Office chosen by you.

Can I get a carer's allowance if I am getting another social welfare payment?

No. If you are getting another Social Welfare payment and you satisfy the conditions you may get the Carers Allowance instead of your existing payment.

If you are getting Prescribed Relatives Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance, or a pensioner is claiming it on your behalf, you may apply for Carerís Allowance instead.

What extra benefits may I receive?

All carers receiving the carer's allowance also qualify for:

  • A Free Travel Pass for yourself
  • Electricity / Natural Gas / Bottled Gas Refill Allowance
  • Free Television Licence
  • Telephone Allowance

Carers receiving the Carerís Allowance are also automatically entitled to a Respite Care Grant of Ä1,200 per year to pay for respite care when they need a holiday or break from the duties of caring. This is automatically paid in June of each year.

People who do not qualify for the Carerís Allowance because means are too high, may still qualify for the Respite Care Grant.

When and how do I apply?

You should apply for a Carers Allowance as soon as you feel you meet the necessary conditions. Payment will be awarded from the date your application is received.

You can apply for a Carer's Allowance by completing an application form (CR 1) and sending it with the relevant certificates to the Claims Allowance Section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Application forms are available at your local Social Welfare Office or from the Department of Social and Family Affairs website (

Where can I get more Information?

For more information on the Carerís Allowance contact your local Social Welfare Office or the Carerís Allowance Section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, Telephone (043) 45211 / (01) 7043000 Ext. 48940.

Reviewed: September 26, 2006