Q: My mother recently had a stroke and needs full-time care. Can I take time off to care for her?
If you are working at present and want to take time off to care for your mother, you may be eligible for carer’s leave of up to two years. You must have worked for your employer for a continuous period of 12 months to qualify for this leave and the person you are caring for (your mother) must need full-time care and attention.
Your employer does not pay you while you are on carer’s leave but you can get credited social insurance contributions to maintain your PRSI record.
You are entitled to annual leave and public holidays for the first 13 weeks of carer’s leave. Your employer cannot dismiss you or victimise you for exercising your right to carer’s leave.
What financial supports are there if I am a full-time carer?
You may be able to get Carer’s Benefit from the Department of Social Protection, if you have enough PRSI contributions to qualify. It is paid to people who leave work or reduce their hours to care for a person in need of full-time care.
If you do not qualify for Carer’s Benefit, you may qualify for a means-tested Carer’s Allowance. If you get Carer’s Allowance, you may be entitled to a Free Travel Pass. If you live with the person you are caring for, you may also qualify for the Household Benefits Package.
There is also an annual Carer’s Support Grant, which is paid to full-time carers in June each year. The Carers Support Grant amounts to €1,850. It is usually paid on the first Thursday in June, for each person you are caring for. It is not taxable.
Can I work while on carer’s leave?
You can work for up to 18.5 hours a week in employment or self-employment while you are on carer’s leave, as long as you earn less than €332.50 a week. (This is your take-home pay after deductions such as tax, PRSI and union dues.) This will increase to €350 per week after June 2nd.
Alternatively, you can attend an educational or training course or do voluntary work for a maximum of 18.5 hours a week.
Before you start work or training you should tell the Carer’s Benefit section. While you are out of the house, the person you are caring for must be well looked after.
Do I have to be in receipt of either Carers Benefit or Carers Allowance in order to get the Carer Support Grant?
No. Even if you are not getting Carers Benefit or Carers Allowance, you can qualify for this grant if you meet the qualifying conditions. These include the provisions that you are providing full-time care & attention to someone who needs it and you are not working or studying outside the home for more than 18.5 hours per week. You cannot be in receipt of a Jobseekers payment or signing on for credits
The Carer Support Grant is not means tested and it is not taxable. If you are caring for more than one person, a grant is paid for each of them.
What is the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA)?
Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability. The child must need ongoing care and attention substantially over and above that usually needed by a child of the same age. It is not means tested.
The payment is not based on the type of disability, but on the level of physical or mental impairment which results in the child needing substantially more care and attention than another child of the same age.
To qualify for DCA, the child must live at home with the person claiming the allowance for 5 or more days a week. However, DCA may be paid where this is not possible because the parents are sharing care and live apart, or the child spends part of the week in residential care.
Are there some tax reliefs for carers?
You can claim a tax credit if you are the parent or guardian of a child who is permanently incapacitated, either physically or mentally. It is called the Incapacitated Child Tax Credit.
If you are caring for a dependent relative you may qualify for the Dependent Relative Tax Credit. To qualify for the tax credit, your relative’s income must be below a certain limit.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and you care for a dependent person, you can apply for the Home Carer Tax Credit. You must be jointly assessed for tax as a couple.
A dependent person you are caring for cannot be a spouse or civil partner. They can however, be a relative by marriage, or someone for whom you act as a legal guardian.