This week we are concentrating on some frequently asked questions about Social Welfare services.
Are Social Welfare reviewing applications to see if there was any transfers of property or income when you are claiming adult dependent?
The means-tested Qualified Adult payments are currently being reviewed by Social Welfare. Any recent transfers of assets must be declared, if Social Welfare consider that either directly or indirectly the claimant, ‘deprived himself or herself of any income or property in order to qualify himself or herself for the receipt of the pension or allowance in question, or for the receipt of the pension or allowance at a higher rate than that to which he or she would otherwise be entitled, that income or the value of that property shall for the purposes of these Rules be taken to be part of the means of that person’.
Unanswered questionnaires will result in the claim being suspended and investigated. Return forms as soon as possible, and the claim will be reduced or disallowed with no retrospection demand of overpayments. Ask for a copy of the claimant’s Social Welfare Insurance record. The claimant may have had title to a lower contributory payment that can be offset against the overpayment. Ask for copies of all documents used in the initial decision to award the claim plus all documents used in any subsequent reviews. Any originally declared asset that subsequently gains value retains its original value for means test.
If a person worked abroad and moved to Ireland and started paying PRSI, what is the date of entry for calculating pension entitlements?
There is a misconception out there that welfare will always combine foreign social security payments with the Irish PRSI to calculate an Irish pension. If you have an independent pension title using only Irish PRSI then you qualify for that Irish contributory pension. You must have paid a minimum of 520 weeks of PRSI and started paying before your 56th birthday.
What are the pitfalls when completing a pension application form?
If the claimant had taken time off work to care for children under age 12 but was not the parent who was the payee of the child benefit, they must make this clear when competing the application form, otherwise they will not be considered for the award of child caring credits when the claim is being processed. only one parent will be allowed credit for child caring; if the claimant had taken time off work to care for a person who required full-time care and attention but they themselves did not qualify for carers allowance, they must make this clear when competing the application form, otherwise they will not be allowed home caring credits when the claim is being processed. Up to 1,040 weeks (20 years) of credits can be added to claimants record for child/home caring. Complete HM1 form in advance of pension age.
What is the correct class for employing family members? Are these okay for pension entitlements later? When does the PRSI clock start?
Where business is a sole-trader, and employment is by a prescribed relative of the employed person, being either employment in the common home of the employer and the employed person or employment specified by regulations as corresponding to employment in the common home of the employer and the employed person. Class M applies; son/daughter lives with and works for sole-trading father/mother, class m applies; son/daughter builds and moves into own home, class a applies; father and mother go into partnership, class a applies to son/daughter; son/daughter and father/mother go into partnership, class s applies to both; son/daughter and father/mother run the farm but not in partnership, class m applies to son/daughter.
• Liam O’Halloran is an accountant with FDC Bandon.