Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability, who requires ongoing care and attention, substantially over and above the care and attention usually required by a child of the same age. It is not means tested.
You can find the definitions for terms such as severe or substantially in the DCA Medical Guidelines (pdf). These are used by the Department of Social Protection when it is assessing applications for DCA. The guidelines state that the payment is not based on the type of disability but on the resulting physical or mental impairment which means that the child requires substantially more care and attention than another child of the same age.
The DCA scheme was administered by the Health Service Executive before it was transferred to the Department of Social Protection in 2009.
You can also read the information leaflet for DCA (SW127). The leaflet is available from your Intreo centre or Citizens Information Service.
To qualify, the child must have a severe disability that is likely to last for at least 1 year and:
- Be aged under 16 (at 16, the child can apply for a Disability Allowance)
- Live at home with the person claiming the allowance for 5 or more days a week - see 'Half-rate payment' below
- Meet the medical criteria - see below
- Be ordinarily resident in the State
In addition, the person claiming the allowance for the child must:
The legislation states that to qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance a child must have "a severe disability requiring continual or continuous care and attention substantially in excess of the care and attention normally required by a child of the same age".
This means that eligibility for Domiciliary Care Allowance is not based on the type of impairment or disease, but on the resulting lack of function of body or mind which means the child needs extra care and attention. This care and attention must be required to allow the child to deal with the activities of daily living. The child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months.
The Department's Medical Assessor looks at all the following before giving an opinion on whether your child meets the medical criteria:
- The history of the case
- All medical reports received (your GP fills out a medical report and you should include reports from any relevant specialists)
- Your description of the care and attention required by your child. (The form allows you to state what extra care your child needs under a number of headings.)
Children who are being cared for on a full-time basis in residential homes or other institutions are not eligible for the allowance.
However, children in residential care who go home may receive a half-rate payment if they are at home for 2 days or more a week, for example, a child who attends residential services from Monday to Friday and goes home at weekends.
Reviews and appeals
If your application is refused, you may submit additional information and ask for the decision to be reviewed. A revised decision will be made if warranted. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of this review or wish to appeal directly without a review, you can appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.
The Domiciliary Care Allowance rate is €309.50 per month.
There is no restriction on the number of children for whom you may claim Domiciliary Care Allowance. (In other words, if you are caring for more than 1 child who qualifies for Domiciliary Care Allowance, you may claim the monthly allowance for each).
Payment is made on the third Tuesday of every month for the current month.
Payment may continue for up to 13 weeks if the child is getting medical or other treatment in hospital.
Your entitlement to Child Benefit is not affected and you may qualify for Carer's Benefit or Carer's Allowance if you meet the other conditions. People getting DCA do not need to fill out the medical form when applying for Carer's Allowance.
You can also claim a Respite Care Grant, which is paid automatically each year during the month of June.
How to apply
To apply, fill in a Domiciliary Care Allowance form (pdf). You can also get an application form by texting “FORM DCA” followed by your name and address to 51909 (standard text rates apply) or by dropping into your Intreo centre or social welfare local office or local Citizens Information Service.
You should complete Parts 1 to 5 of the form. Please ask your child’s GP/specialist to fill in parts 6 and 7 (the medical section) of the form. You should also attach any reports or other information you have about your child’s disability and the impact it has on their care needs.
Note: If your child has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) you are advised to have the medical professional/specialist dealing with your child complete an additional medical form called DomCare3 (pdf).
(Please note: Completion of the Dom Care 3 form (additional medical information) is optional. In some instances medical professionals may have already provided a comprehensive report on your child’s medical condition and resultant care needs and in these circumstances, the report will serve the same purpose as the Dom Care 3 form. However, if you do not have a recent report/s from your child’s treating medical professional, the Dom Care 3 form can provide additional information to the Department to allow for the correct decision to be made on your DCA application.)
The completed form will detail your child’s conditions, any specific care needs your child might have as a result of their disability and will help the Department’s medical assessor to form an opinion on eligibility.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterised by delays in the development of socialisation and communication skills. Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett’s Syndrome are generally referred to under this category.
When your child reaches 16 years of age he or she may qualify for Disability Allowance. If he or she continues to need full-time care and attention and you continue to provide full-time care and attention you can retain your carer's payment.
Where to apply
Your application form and supporting documentation should be sent to:
Domiciliary Care Allowance
Social Welfare Services Office
Department of Social Protection
Tel:(071) 915 7100
Locall:1890 500 000
You can email the Domiciliary Care Allowance section using the secure enquiry form. If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information centre, social welfare local office or Intreo centre.