The means test takes account of virtually every form of income but assesses
it in different ways and disregards various amounts. Different rules apply to
income from farming and other forms of self-employment, income from certain
schemes such as the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) and
Agri-Environmental Options Scheme (AEOS), income from employment and income
from property and capital.
When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare officer will call to see
you and ask to see various documents. For example, accounts prepared for tax
purposes, creamery returns, cattle registration cards, details of headage
payments, area aid, etc. They will also want information on the sale of crops,
cattle, milk and other produce. The officer will then assess the costs actually
and necessarily incurred in connection with the running of the farm. These
costs may include rent, annuities, the cost of inputs like feed and fertiliser
and the depreciation of farm machinery. Labour costs are taken into account,
with the exception of the labour of the farmer and spouse, civil partner or
cohabitant. You are entitled to receive a copy of the farm income calculation.
Other income from self-employment
If you or your spouse has other income from self-employment, this is also
assessed, taking into account the costs incurred in the business.
The income from farming and other forms of self-employment is added together
and the costs involved are deducted. From 3 April 2013 100% of
your means from self-employment (with no disregards for dependent children) are
The deductions from income for children were discontinued from 3 April 2013
(these were €127 per year for each of the first two dependent children and
€190.50 per year for each subsequent child).
REPS, AEOS and SACS
Some but not all of the payments received under the Rural Environmental
Protection Scheme (REPS), the Agri-Environmental Options Scheme (AEOS) or the
Special Area of Conservation (SAC) scheme are assessed.
- The first €2,540 per year of payments is disregarded
- 50% of the balance is also disregarded
- Expenses incurred in complying with REPS/AEOS/SAC measures are deducted
- The balance is assessed as means.
Income from leasing of milk quota or land
If you have leased your milk quota, the income from the leasing is assessed
in full. It is not included in the assessment of income from farming as
described above. The same applies to income earned from the leasing of land. If
you have leased all of your land, you are no longer eligible for Farm Assist.
Income from employment
Your income from a job is assessed. Your assessable weekly earnings (gross
income less PRSI, union dues and superannuation fees) are usually assessed on
the basis of the 13 weeks before you claim. Not all of your income is taken
into account. €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60) from casual work is
deducted from your assessable weekly earnings and then 60% of the balance is
assessed as weekly means.
Any income from an occupational pension is assessed in full.
Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant's income from employment
Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant's income from employment is taken
into account as follows:
€20 per day (up to a maximum of €60) from work is deducted from your
spouse's, civil partner or cohabitant's average assessable weekly earnings and
then 60% of the balance is assessed as weekly means. The weekly means is then
deducted from the combined total of your personal rate of Farm Assist, the
maximum Increase for a Qualified Adult and any increase for child dependents.
People who were getting Farm Assist before 26 September 2007 and are still
in payment on 26 September 2007 may be assessed differently.
Income from capital includes property, savings and investments. If you own
property that you are not personally using or you have investments or any other
form of capital, the value is assessed, using a special formula. You may or may
not be getting an income from the property or investment.
The value of capital is assessed as follows:
- The first €20,000 of the capital is disregarded
- €20,000 to €30,000 is assessed at €1 for every €1,000
- Next €10,000 is assessed at €2 per €1,000
- Excess of €40,000 is assessed at €4 per €1,000
The assessment only applies to units of €1,000. Therefore all amounts
should be rounded down to the nearest €1,000. For example if you have
€38,400 in the bank, the first €20,000 is disregarded, €10,000 is
assessed at €1 per €1,000, which is €10 and the remaining €8,000 is
assessed at €2 per €1,000, which is €16 per week. So your income from
capital is €26 per week or €1,352 per year.
Property you do not use
If you don't use your farm and as a result have no income from it, an
assessment of its value to you is still made. The farm is effectively treated
Your home is not taken into account in the means test unless you get an
income from it.
Your total means from all sources are added together to get a total weekly
means. The difference between your assessed weekly means and the appropriate
weekly amount of social welfare payment for your family's circumstances is the
amount of Farm Assist payable.
Liability to pay Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI)
You may be liable to pay Class
S contributions on your income from self-employment.