Where a person is unable to collect their payment or manage their financial affairs a person may be appointed as their agent. An agent can be appointed on a temporary or on a long-term basis, to collect payments or act on behalf of the customer.
The Department may cancel an agency arrangement at any time where it has reason to believe that the arrangement is not working satisfactorily.
The following sets out the arrangements that can be put in place for customers depending on their personal circumstances:
- Where a temporary agent is needed for no longer than three weeks.
- Where an agent is nominated by the customer.
- Where a person is unable to manage their own financial affairs.
Temporary Agent Arrangement
A temporary agent can be appointed for a short period of time, usually no longer than three weeks, where a person is unable to collect their payment at a post office. A “ TemporaryAgent” form, which is only available at the post office, should be completed by the customer. When collecting the payment the agent should present this form along with the customers’ social services card at the post office. If any difficulties arise the customer, or their agent, should contact the local post office or the relevant section of the Department.
Person Nominates An Agent To Collect Their Payment
Where a customer is unable to collect their payment at the post office, for example due to an illness or loss of mobility, they can nominate a person to collect the payment on their behalf. The customer must complete a form " Authority to Appoint an Agent" and send it to the relevant section of the Department. A notification is then sent to the customer and arrangements are made with the post office to facilitate the agent collecting the payment. When the payment is collected by the agent he or she must give the customer the full amount.
The person nominated to act as agent must be over 18 years. If the customer is resident in a nursing home they may nominate the person in charge of the nursing home to collect the payment on their behalf.
The customer may cancel or revoke an agent arrangement at any time and appoint another agent by completing the " Authority to Appoint an Agent" form.
Person Unable To Manage Their Own Financial Affairs
Where a customer is unable to manage their own financial affairs an agent may be appointed to collect the payment and act on behalf of the claimant or beneficiary. An application form “ Appointment of Agent - Where a person is unable to manage their financial affairs” must be completed and sent to the relevant section of the Department.The payment will be made electronically to a nominated bank account. It is recommended that a separate account be set up for this purpose.
In all cases a medical practitioner must certify that the customer is unable for the time being to manage his or her own financial affairs for reasons which may include one of the following:
- an inability to understand the basis of possible entitlements to benefit;
- an inability to understand and complete the claim form;
- an inability to understand and deal with correspondence and enquiries concerning the claim;
- an inability to manage benefit payments received.
Persons that can be appointed Agent
The agent must be over the age of 18 years and be one of the following:
- a spouse;
- a parent, step parent or foster parent;
- a legal guardian;
- a child or step-child;
- a brother or sister, step-brother or step-sister; half-brother or half-sister;
- a son-in-law or daughter-in-law;
- a niece or nephew;
- a grandchild;
- a grandparent;
- an aunt or uncle;
- a person who has been appointed to be a care representative of the customer;
- a person, other than the medical practitioner who signed the form, who appears to the Department to have a good and sufficient interest in the welfare of the customer.
Where the customer is resident in a care centre for a continuous period of four weeks or more, and where no other suitable person is available and willing to be appointed, a representative of the care centre may be appointed to act as agent.
A person cannot be appointed as agent if they have been:
- adjudicated a bankrupt unless the bankruptcy has been discharged or the adjudication annulled;
- convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty;
- convicted of an offence against the person or property of the claimant or beneficiary concerned.
Obligations of Appointed Person
The agent is responsible for ensuring that:
- the payment is used for the benefit of the customer;
- monies are not spent on items or services that the customer has an entitlement to and are available;
- The payment is lodged to an interest bearing account for the benefit of the customer;
- any changes in the customers circumstances are reported to the Department.
The agent must also keep a record of all sums received and all transactions made in relation to the benefit payment, and produce the records if requested to do so by either the customer, his or her nearest relative, or an officer of the Department.
The Department may cancel an agency arrangement at any time where it has reason to believe that the arrangement is not working satisfactorily or that the payment is not being used for the benefit of the customer. If this occurs, the agent must, where appropriate, return the payments on request.
Appointment Of Agent In Other Cases
Ward of Court or Power of Attorney
In the case of a ward of court or a person appointed under an enduring power of attorney, the Department will make payments directly to the Committee of the Ward or to the Attorney by nominating the Committee or the Attorney as agent for the social welfare customer. All such payments will be made electronically to a nominated bank account.
Health Service Executive
Where the customer is resident in a care centre under the management of the Health Service Executive (HSE) for a continuous period of four weeks or more and wishes to have a representative of the care centre appointed to act as their agent, the customer or their representative should contact the manager of the care centre to put the arrangement in place.