Back to Education Allowance - Operational Guideline


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Index

1. The Back to Education Allowance Scheme

  1. 1.1 Purpose
  2. 1.2 Objective
  3. 1.3 Legislative Basis
  4. 1.4 What does the Back to Education programme provide?
  5. 1.5 Role of the DSP Case Officer & Determining Officer (DO)
  6. 1.6 This version
  7. 1.7 Administration
  8. 1.8 Queries

2. Study Options:

  1. 2.1 Overview
  2. 2.2 Second Level Option (SLO)
  3. 2.3 Second Level Courses in UK/Northern Ireland
  4. 2.4 Third Level Option (TLO)
  5. 2.5 Third level study outside of Ireland
  6. 2.6 Postgraduate study option
  7. 2.7 What is not eligible for support under BTEA

3. Common Conditions (all options)

  1. 3.1 Overview
  2. 3.2 Criteria
  3. 3.3 Linking provisions
  4. 3.4 Counting periods on other schemes towards the qualifying period
  5. 3.5 Counting periods on SWA
  6. 3.6 Counting periods on Youthreach
  7. 3.7 Arrangements for persons made redundant
  8. 3.8 Eligibility of ex-offenders
  9. 3.9 Eligibility of Qualifying Adults
  10. 3.10 Disqualifications
  11. 3.11 Exclusions from other schemes
  12. 3.12 Eligibility for Family Income Supplement (FIS)
  13. 3.13 Bursaries, gifts & scholarships
  14. 3.14 Data Protection/Freedom of Information

4. Jobseeker Payments

  1. 4.1 Qualifying payments
  2. 4.2 Conditions applying to SLO and TLO
  3. 4.3 Conditions applying to Postgraduate applicants
  4. 4.4 Jobseekers aged 18 but under 21
  5. 4.5 Jobseekers on jobseekers credits only
  6. 4.6 Qualified Adult (QA)
  7. 4.7 Jobseekers Benefit applicants after 1st January 2015
  8. 4.8 BTEA based on Jobseekers Benefit prior to 2015
  9. 4.9 Qualified Adult (QA) of Jobseekers Benefit prior to 1st January 2015
  10. 4.10 Specific conditions for Jobseekers Allowance - means test
  11. 4.11 Duration of BTEA payment
  12. 4.12 Resuming the course of study
  13. 4.13 Signing arrangements

5. One Parent Family

  1. 5.1 Qualifying Payments
  2. 5.2 Conditions applying to SLO and TLO
  3. 5.3 Conditions applying to Postgraduate applicants
  4. 5.4 Applicants aged 18 but under 21
  5. 5.5 Specific conditions for OFP (where applicable) - means test
  6. 5.6 Duration of payment
  7. 5.7 Resuming the course of study – applicants prior to 2015/16
  8. 5.8 Resuming the course of study –applicants from 2015/16

6. Disability & Caring payments

  1. 6.1 Qualifying Payments
  2. 6.2 Conditions applying to SLO and TLO
  3. 6.3 Conditions applying to Postgraduate applicants
  4. 6.4 Specific conditions for Disability and Caring payments (where applicable) - Means test
  5. 6.5 Duration of payment
  6. 6.6 Resuming the course of study
  7. 6.7 BTEA and Illness Benefit payments & credits

7. Information general to all options

  1. 7.1 Proof of registration
  2. 7.2 Commencement of BTEA after first year of an approved course of study
  3. 7.3 Progression in Education course
  4. 7.4 BTEA to undertake work placement/Thesis preparation
  5. 7.5 Erasmus
  6. 7.6 Repeat years
  7. 7.7 Failure to complete a course of study
  8. 7.8 Deferral of course
  9. 7.9 Back to Education Allowance and Student Grant Scheme (SUSI)
  10. 7.10 Method of Payment
  11. 7.11 Secondary benefits

8. Rates of payment

  1. 8.1 BTEA awarded prior to 1st January 2013
  2. 8.2 BTEA awarded since 1st January 2013
  3. 8.3 BTEA age related payments
  4. 8.4 Increase for Qualified Adult/child (Saver cases)
  5. 8.5 For those who qualified as the Qualified Adult Dependent of a jobseeker, who is in receipt of a BTEA qualifying payment,

9. Effect of means on certain BTEA claims

  1. 9.1 Part-time work
  2. 9.2 Paid Work Placement
  3. 9.3 Revised means decisions

10. Applications, Documentation and Decision Procedures

  1. 10.1 Applications
  2. 10.2 Timing of applications
  3. 10.3 Late applications
  4. 10.4 Decisions
  5. 10.5 Refusals
  6. 10.6 Re-examination/review of decision to refuse
  7. 10.7 ISTS/TLA system

11. Control and change in circumstances

  1. 11.1 Control requirements
  2. 11.2 Responsibilities of the divisions/Intreo Centres
  3. 11.3 Finish dates and end of academic year processes
  4. 11.4 Control following award of BTEA payment
  5. 11.5 Student Data Match
  6. 11.6 Recovery of overpayments

APPENDIX 1 - Information Leaflet (SW70) & Application Form (BTE1) available from.

APPENDIX 2 - Relevant changes to TLO/SLO & BTEA since 1990


1.1 Purpose

The Back to Education Allowance scheme (BTEA) is an educational opportunities scheme for persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments wishing to pursue second or third level courses of education subject to meeting the qualifying conditions.

1.2 Objective

The objective is to raise educational and skills levels to enable them to better access to emerging n labour market needs in line with the Government’s activation strategy set out in Pathways to Work.

1.3 Legislative Basis

BTEA is an administrative scheme approved by the Government. Government Decision S.29416 of 8 October 1996 refers.

1.4 What does the Back to Education programme provide?

The Back to Education Programme provides income support to DSP customers to undertake a range of education and training options with the aim of improving labour market opportunities. The programme has three strands:

  • Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) Provides certain categories of DSP customers with income support to complete a full-time course of study (these rules govern the operation of this strand)
  • Part-Time Education Option (PTEO) Enables jobseekers to retain their Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit payment while undertaking a part-time course of study (see separate Guideline BACK TO EDUCATION - Part-Time Education Option (PTEO)
  • Education, Training and Development Option (ET&D) Enables jobseekers to retain their Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit payment while undertaking courses of study of short duration (see separate Guideline BACK TO EDUCATION - Education, Training and Development Option)

1.5 Role of the DSP Case Officer & Determining Officer (DO)

As part of their functions to support jobseekers (and others), Case Officers will primarily be involved in determining of the course of study being proposed is in line with the activation needs of the applicant, including ensuring alignment with the jobseeker’s Personal Progression Plan. The Case Officer should provide direction insofar as this relates to ensuring that the course of study is in an area/sector of the economy where there are identified skill needs and job opportunities.

BTEA eligibility should be assessed primarily by the Determining Officer. In all cases, only the Determining Officer can approve an applicant for a BTEA payment following receipt of a positive recommendation and a final check on consistency with the eligibility criteria.

1.6 This version

This version of the rules and guidelines for the Back to Education Allowance scheme are operational from the 1st April  2016 and supersede previous guidelines issues in respect of the scheme.

1.7 Administration

Policy in respect of the scheme and these rules has been developed and are administered by:

Employment Support Services
Back to Education Schemes
Shannon Lodge
Carrick on Shannon
Co. Leitrim.

1.8 Queries

Queries of an operational nature and queries from applicants and participants should be addressed locally using these rules and guidelines. If a query cannot be resolved, a referral should be made, in the first instance, to Intreo Centre management or to the relevant area manager. Queries of a policy nature or of a complex operational nature that cannot be resolved at local level can be sent in written form to to BTEA_enquires@welfare.ie.

Enquiries to MBX-BTEA_Enquiries or BTEA_Enquiries@welfare.ie.


2. Study Options

2.1 Overview

Income support is available under BTEA to enable two study options to be pursued. The Second Level Option (SLO) enables study to be undertaken provided it leads to FETAC qualifications up to level 6. The Third Level Option (TLO) enables study to be undertaken to HETAC qualification level 8 and in limited circumstances to include post-graduate study. BTEA requires that all modules of a full-time course must be completed within the same academic year.

2.2 Second Level option (SLO)

BTEA can be approved for a jobseeker to attend a full time second level course of education at any Community, Comprehensive, Secondary, ETB Centre (Vocational School), College of Further Education (ETB) or Institute of Technology with which the Department of Education and Skills have a funding relationship. The course of study being pursued must be a full-time day course and lead to a qualification that is:

  • recognised by the Department of Education & Skills or,
  • awarded by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).

The type of full-time day courses for which BTEA can be approved are:

  • Junior Certificate
  • Leaving Certificate (including repeat Leaving Certificate in limited circumstances – see 7.2)
  • Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC)
  • Those, other than list above, provided by Educational Training Boards (ETB) (formerly Vocational Education Committees)
  • Foundation/Access courses provided by Universities and Institutes of Technology.

In addition to existing Access/Foundation courses, approval may be given to preparatory third level courses of at least 18 week’s duration requiring full-time attendance and conferring a Special Purpose Award of a minimum of 30 credits that accumulate towards the student’s chosen third level qualification.

2.3 Second Level Courses in UK/Northern Ireland

BTEA can be approved for Second Level courses in the UK and Northern Ireland provided they lead to a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).

A BTEC National Diploma is to be considered a second level qualification. A BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) is to be considered an award at third level

2.4 Third Level option (TLO)

BTEA can be approved for attendance at a full-time third level course of education at any approved third level institution (university, institute of education or third level college). The selected course of study must be full-time day and recognised:

  • by the Student Grant scheme under the Student Support Act 2011 (pdf) and administered by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) http://www.susi.ie/ or
  • has Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) recognition

2.5 Third level study outside of Ireland

BTEA is only permitted for courses commencing in Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, BTEA can be approved to avail of a year abroad if it is deemed to be an integral/mandatory/compulsory part of the coure of study (as verified by the Registrars/Administrations Office). 

2.6 Postgraduate study option

Only in limited circumstances can BTEA be approved for jobseekers undertaking postgraduate study. There are no circumstances where BTEA can be approved where the jobseeker already holds a postgraduate qualification. Study for postgraduate qualifications for which BTEA cannot be approved include Masters in all disciplines for example: MA, MSc, M.Eng, M.Phil., MBA, Professional Graduate Diploma, any discipline, excepting (b) and (c) below:-.

BTEA can be approved where the jobseekers intend to undertake studies leading to:

(a) a Higher Diploma (H.Dip) in any discipline OR

(b) a Professional Masters in Education (PME) which replaced the Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) from September 2014 OR

(c) a Master degree based solely on life experience where the applicant holds no other third level qualification. In such cases a Case Officer must ensure that the applicant provides documentary evidence from the third level institution confirming that admission is based solely on life experience and that the applicant is not the holder of any third level qualification).

2.7 What is not eligible for support under BTEA

The following are not considered eligible courses of study for BTEA purposes:

  • Part-time or evening courses
  • Courses leading to minor/special purpose awards or component certificates where less than 30 credits are awarded and/or are less than 18 weeks duration
  • Single modules or components of a course of study
  • Single semesters
  • Distance learning or on-line courses
  • Full-time study outside Ireland and Northern Ireland

3. Common Conditions (all options).

3.1 Overview

Responsibility for securing a place on a course rests with the jobseeker/applicant.The Department of Social Protection can provide assistance and advice in this regard.

3.2 Criteria

In order to qualify for BTEA the applicant must be:

  • a specific age
  • in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a specified period of time (strict adherence to this condition must be applied in all cases) – see sections 4.1, 5.1, or 6.1
  • commencing the first year* of a course of study (*See section 7.2 for relaxation of this requirement)
  • the course of study is full-time day for the complete academic year, 
  • leading to a recognised qualification in a recognised college as set out in section 2.2 and 2.4, 
  • jobseeker is progressing* in the levels of education held (*See section 7.3, for further information on the progression requirement)
  • In the case of a jobseeker, the Case Officer has recommended that the course of study for BTEA has been deemed to have employment relevance and focus and/or in alignment with the jobseekers personal progression plan.. 

3.3 Linking provisions

Periods spent on any qualifying payment and periods on other activation schemes (see 3.43.54.1, 5.1 and 6.1) which are not broken by more than 12 months (52 weeks) can be used in determining if an applicant satisfies the qualifying period criteria.

3.4 Counting periods on other schemes towards the qualifying period

Periods spent on a range of other education, training, work placement and activation support schemes can be taken into account when determining the required number of days in receipt of a qualifying payment. The schemes include: full-time training courses operated by SOLAS/ETBs, Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme, Tús, JobBridge/WPP, Gateway, Part-time Job Incentive Scheme, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or Short-term Enterprise Allowance and VTOS. Only in circumstances where a Case Officer is satisfied that a course of study represents a better activation option, should an applicant cease engagement on these programmes prior to completion. Eligibility to BTEA does not extend to Qualified Adults of participants of these schemes.

This provision applies only in cases where the applicant has established an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment immediately prior to commencement of their course (see 3.3 for linking arrangements).

3.5 Counting periods on SWA

Account may also be taken of periods in receipt of a Supplementary Welfare Allowance and payments in respect of Direct Provision.

This provision applies only in cases where the applicant has established an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment immediately prior to commencement of their course (see 3.3 for linking arrangements).

3.6 Counting periods on Youthreach

Period spent on Youthreach may be taken into account in determining the qualifying period for BTEA provided the jobseeker establishes an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment prior to/after participation on the Youthreach course.

3.7 Arrangements for persons made redundant

Jobseekers awarded Statutory Redundancy under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967–2012 have access to the BTEA scheme immediately on being made redundant or within one year of the award of the Statutory Redundancy. The jobseeker must establish an entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare payment immediately prior to commencement of an approved course of study.

A jobseeker who opted for voluntary redundancy cannot be approved for BTEA under this provision. Qualified Adults of jobseekers that receive Statutory Redundancy cannot be approved for BTEA under this provision.

3.8 Eligibility of ex-offenders

Periods spent in prison in this State may count towards the qualifying period for BTEA purposes. This provision applies only in cases where the applicant has established an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment immediately prior to commencement of their course (see 3.3 for linking arrangements).

3.9 Eligibility of Qualifying Adults

Both partners can simultaneously qualify for a BTEA payment and can be supported to undertake courses of study.

The Qualified Adult Dependent of a person in receipt of one of the qualifying payments for BTEA purposes (see 4.1 or see 6.1) may be approved for BTEA provided they establish an entitlement to a BTEA qualifying payment in their own right and subject to satisfying all other BTEA conditions. Periods spent in receipt of a Qualified Adult Allowance on qualifying payments should be counted in addition to any periods in receipt of a qualifying payment in their own right provided the claims are not broken by more than 12 months. This provision does not extend to provide eligibility for the Qualified Adult Dependent of person made Statutory Redundant.

Eligibility to BTEA does not extend to Qualified Adults of participants of activation schemes.

3.10 Work during the academic year

All work (including part-time and work placements) engaged in by the BTEA participant will be assessed in accordance with the means test of the primry payment. See section 9.1

3.11 Disqualifications

Entitlement to BTEA will cease and payments must be terminated in situations where:

  • the participant completes the course of study
  • the participants drops out of their course of study
  • the course of study ceases or is discontinued by the educational institution
  • where entitlement to the qualifying payment is no longer satisfied (such as on the grounds of excessive means) for BTEA participants approved after 1st January 2013
  • where the participant fails to provide proof of continued attendance at the course of study on a full-time basis
  • where the participant takes up full time employment (this excludes periods of work placements considered part of the course of study).

3.12 Exclusions from other schemes

BTEA participants cannot work full-time or engage simultaneously on Community Employment, Tús – the community work placement initiative, the Rural Social Scheme, Gateway Programme, SOLAS/ETB (former FÁS) training programmes, WPP, JobBridge – the National Internship Programme, the Part-time Job Incentive Scheme or any other employment or training scheme or training programme operated by the National Learning Network.

Jobseekers pursuing courses at Roslyn Park College are not eligible for income support under BTEA.

3.13 Eligibility for Family Income Supplement (FIS)

BTEA participants are not eligible for the Family Income Supplement (FIS).

3.14 Bursaries, gifts & scholarships

BTEA should not be approved where the applicant is provided with income support from another source. An applicant should not be excluded from being approved for BTEA in circumstances where an applicant is to be supported by way of a bursary or scholarship payment. Where a gift, sponsorship, bursary or scholarship arises, the value of such support should be considered as means and the entitlement to BTEA assessed based on the means rules attaching to the qualifying payment.

3.15 Data Protection/Freedom of Information

Staff are required to ensure that all information and personal data received in respect of BTEA, (to include application, monitoring and control processes) are treated in a confidential and secure manner. Case Officers and Determining Officers should note that formal arrangements are in place for the exchange of information with other Government Departments / Agencies in accordance with the law. Explanations and terms used in this form are intended as a guide only and are not a legal interpretation"


4. Qualifying Payments

4.1 Qualifying payments

This section applies to applications received from jobseeker in receipt of a Jobseekers Allowance (means tested), Farm Assist (means tested), or Jobseekers Benefit payment.

4.2 Conditions applying to SLO and TLO

A jobseeker must satisfy the following conditions immediately prior to the commencement of the first year* of the course of study:

  • • must be at least 21 years of age AND
  • • in receipt of one a Jobseekers Allowance, Farm Assist, or Jobseekers Benefit payment for at least** :
    • o 3 months ( 78 days) for Second Level Option (SLO),
    • o 9 months (234 days) for Third Level Option (TLO) AND
  • • Case Officer has considered and recommended the application for new applicants.

*see 7.2 for relaxation of this requirement in certain circumstances

**Periods spent on Illness Benefit can count towards the qualifying period provided that at least 50% of the qualifying period relates to the current qualifying payment. Number of unemployment days which are paid or credited in accordance with jobseekers legislation

4.3 Conditions applying to Postgraduate applicants

A jobseeker must satisfy the following conditions immediately prior to the commencement of the course of postgraduate study:

  • • must be at least 24 years of age, AND
    • o 9 months (234 days) for Postgraduate Study option, OR
    • o 12 months (312 days) for the Professional Masters in Education.

4.4 Jobseekers aged 18 but under 21

BTEA can be approved for a jobseeker who is aged at least 18 but under 21 years old provide that they have been out of formal education for at least 2 years prior to commencement of the proposed course of study. Periods spent on SOLAS/FÁS full-time training courses or Youthreach can count towards the relevant qualifying period and may be regarded as periods out of formal education,

4.5 Jobseekers on credits only

A jobseeker may qualify for the BTEA scheme from “jobseekers credits only” provided they have accumulated the required number of days of entitlement at set out at 4.2 and 4.3 above. BTEA participants who are in receipt of "jobseekers credits only" may satisfy the contribution conditions for Jobseekers Benefit on the commencement of a new Governing Contribution Year. Where these circumstances arise, BTEA can be paid from the date on which these conditions are satisfied and expire in line with Jobseekers Benefit arrangements.

4.6 Qualified Adult (QA)

This provision is operational from the 1st January 2015. An applicant in receipt of a Qualified Adult (QA) payment can only be approved for BTEA provided they establish an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment in their own right prior to commencement of the course. Time spent as a QA (or linked to previous jobseekers entitlement) can be counted in determining the qualifying period – see 8.5 for rates of payment).

 

4.7 Jobseekers Benefit applicants after 1st January 2015

All new applicants received from 1st January 2015 BTEA payment will cease when entitlement to jobseekers benefit exhausts.

BTEA will remain in payment if the participant qualifies for another BTEA qualifying payment. In such circumstances, an application must be made and assessed for the appropriate jobseeker or other scheme payment in the normal manner. Where an entitlement to a BTEA qualifying payment is established, that payment can be approved at the rate appropriate to the qualifying payment. Where no entitlement to an underlying DSP qualifying payment exists, entitlement to a BTEA payment ceases and a credit claim should be considered.

CT days for those receiving jobseekers benefit will no longer be frozen and consequently, the BTEA participants will be entitled to payment for the duration of their entitlement on JB only. With respect to those in receipt of jobseekers benefit and engaged in part-time/casual work, the level of BTEA payment must be assessed in accordance with legislation for jobseekers benefit throughout the lifetime of the BTEA payment*. BTEA based on Jobseekers Benefit prior to 2015

A saver clause will apply for those participants who commenced a course of study and qualified for BTEA on the basis of a Jobseeker’s Benefit payment prior to January 1st 2015. Prior to the introduction of the changes set out in 4.6 and 4.7 above, participants with an entitlement based on a JB payment, the BTEA payment replaced the primary payment while participating on the BTEA scheme.

*It may be more advantageous for the participant to establish an entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance and qualify for BTEA, if engaged in part-time work during the academic year.

4.8 Qualified Adult (QA) of Jobseekers Benefit prior to 1st January 2015

BTEA applications approved from Qualified Adults of JB recipients up to 31/12/14 for courses commencing in 2014 or earlier, QA’s are entitled to receive the QA rate of payment for the duration of their course. For all new courses thereafter, BTEA rules at the time of the new application will apply.

4.9 Specific conditions for Jobseekers Allowance - means test

Where a BTEA participant qualifies on the basis of a qualifying payment at see 4.1 after 1st January 2013, the means test applicable should be used in determining the rate of BTEA payment and in any subsequent review. From 2016/17 the CT for JA BTEA should no longer be frozen.

4.10 Duration of BTEA payment

BTEA approved in respect of the qualifying payments (see 4.1) is payable for the duration of the academic year only, providing entitlement continues to exist. BTEA is not payable for the summer period between academic years. Where BTEA participants are unable to find employment during the summer period, they may be entitled to claim an unemployment payment (JA/JB) subject to satisfying the usual qualifying conditions for those payments.

4.11 Resuming the course of study

From the academic year 2015/16 all new BTEA participants with eligibility based on a qualifying payment (see 4.1) must re-establish their entitlement to the qualifying payment at the beginning of each and subsequent academic year and continue to satisfy the means test during the academic year (if applicable). The conditionality attached to the qualifying payment must be examined at the beginning of each academic year in order for BTEA to be approved.

For BTEA participants approved prior to the 2015/16 academic year where eligibility was based on jobseeker qualifying payments (see 4.1) the following arrangements apply:

  • BTEA awarded after 1 January 2013 and prior to the academic year 2015/16: BTEA can be reapproved from the commencement of the new academic year subject to continuing to satisfy the means test of the relevant payment at the commencement of the course of study irrespective of whether they were in receipt of an unemployment payment for the summer period or not.
  • there is no requirement to re-establish entitlement to an underlying qualifying payment and BTEA payment can continue
  • BTEA awarded prior to 1st January 2013: The BTEA payment can be reapproved from the commencement of the new academic year, providing that the participant is progressing to the next year of their course or progressing in their levels of education to an approved course of study under BTEA, irrespective of whether they were in receipt of an unemployment payment for the summer period or not.

4.12 Signing arrangements

Jobseekers recipients who qualify for income support/credits are not required to sign-on the Live Register while attending an approved course of study during the academic year.


 

5. One Parent Family

5.1 Qualifying Payments

This section applies to applications received from persons in receipt of any one of the following payments.

One-Parent Family Payment (means tested) Widows/Widower's Contributory Pension
Jobseekers transition payment (means tested) Widows/Widower's Non-Contributory Pension (means tested)
Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance Prisoners Wife's Allowance

5.2 Conditions applying to SLO and TLO

An applicant must satisfy the following conditions immediately prior to the commencement of the first year of the course of study:

  • be a least 21 years of age AND
  • be in receipt of one of the specified payments at 5.1 above for at least*:
    • o 3 months ( 78 days) for Second Level Option (SLO),
    • o 9 months (234 days) for Third Level Option (TLO) AND
  • must continue to satisfy the means test (where applicable) for the duration of the academic year

*Period of time spent in receipt of the relevant payment

5.3 Conditions applying to Postgraduate applicants

An applicant in this category must satisfy the following conditions immediately prior to the commencement of the course of postgraduate study:

  • at least 24 years of age for an approved postgraduate qualification) AND
  • be in receipt of one of the specified payments at 5.1 above for at least**:
    • o 9 months (234 days) for Postgraduate Study option,
    • o 12 months (312 days) for the Professional Masters in Education

**Period of time spent in receipt of the relevant payment

5.4 Applicants aged 18 but under 21

BTEA can be approved for an applicant aged at least 18 but under 21 years old provided that they have been out of formal education for at least two (2) years prior to commencement of the proposed course of study. Periods spent on SOLAS/FÁS full-time training courses or Youthreach can count towards the relevant qualifying period and may be regarded as periods out of formal education.

5.5 Specific conditions for OFP (where applicable) - means test

Where a BTEA participant qualifies on the basis of a qualifying payment at 5.1 after 1st January 2013, the means test applicable should be used in determining the rate of BTEA payment and in any subsequent review.

5.6 Duration of payment

BTEA participants whose payment is based on qualifying payments set out at 5.1 will retain their BTEA payment during the summer period provided they are progressing to the following academic year of their course of study or to another approved course of study under BTEA.

5.7 Resuming the course of study – applicants prior to 2015/16

Participants who were awarded BTEA prior to the 1st January 2013 based on OFP eligibility and who are progressing to the next year of their course of study (or progressing to another course of study) will have their BTEA payment reapproved from the commencement of the next academic year.

Participants who were awarded BTEA between 1st January 2013 and before the 2015/16 academic year based on OFP/JST eligibility and who are progressing to the next year of their course (or progressing to another course of study) will have their BTEA reapproved from the commencement of the new academic year, subject to continuing to satisfy the means test of the relevant payment.

5.8 Resuming the course of study –applicants from 2015/16

All BTEA approvals for study for the 2015/2016 academic year where eligibility is based on OFP/JST payment are required to re-establish their entitlement at the beginning of each academic year. The means test (if applicable) must continue to be satisfied during the academic year. Conditionality must be examined at the beginning of each academic year of the BTEA programme.

 

 


6. Disability and Caring payments

6.1 Qualifying Payments

Carer's Allowance (means tested) Blind Pension
Disability Allowance (means tested) Invalidity Pension
Incapacity Supplement (means tested) (based on a Life Disablement Pension) Illness benefit (see 6.7)

6.2 Conditions applying to SLO and TLO

BTEA may be approved for an applicant who satisfies the following conditions immediately prior to the commencement of the first year of the course (except Illness Benefit – see 6.7)

  • be at least 18 years of age AND
  • be in receipt of one of the specified payments at 6.1 above for at least*:
    • o 3 months ( 78 days) for Second Level Option (SLO),
    • o 9 months (234 days) for Third Level Option (TLO) AND
  • must continue to satisfy the means test (where applicable) for the duration of the academic year

*Periods in receipt of Illness Benefit may be counted in meeting this condition. Period of time spent in receipt of the relevant payment

6.3 Conditions applying to Postgraduate applicants

An applicant in this category must satisfy the following conditions immediately prior to the commencement of the course of postgraduate study (except Illness Benefit see 6.7):

  • at least 24 years of age for an approved postgraduate qualification) AND
  • be in receipt of one of the specified payments at 5.1 above for at least**:
    • o 9 months (234 days) for Postgraduate Study option,
    • o 12 months (312 days) for the Professional Masters in Education

**Period of time spent in receipt of the relevant payment

6.4 Specific conditions for Disability and Caring payments (where applicable) - Means test

Where a BTEA participant qualifies on the basis of a qualifying payment at 6.1 after 1st January 2013, the means test applicable should be used in determining the rate of BTEA payment and in any subsequent review.

6.5 Duration of payment

BTEA participants whose payment is based on qualifying payments set out at 6.1 will retain their BTEA payment during the summer period provided they are progressing to the following academic year of their course of study or to another approved course of study under BTEA.

6.6 Resuming the course of study

Where BTEA was awarded prior to the 1st January 2013, and where the participant is progressing to the next year of a course of study or progressing in their levels of education, BTEA should be reapproved from the commencement of the new academic year.

Where BTEA was awarded after the 1st January 2013, and where the participant is progressing to the next year of a course or study or progressing in their levels of education, BTEA should be reapproved from the commencement of the new academic year, subject to the participant continuing to satisfy the means test of the qualifying payment (see 6.1).

6.7 BTEA and Illness Benefit payments & credits

BTEA can be approved (second or third level option and postgraduate) for an applicant currently in receipt of Illness Benefit (IB) payment or IB credits or the QA of such payments/ credits provided they satisfy the age requirements at 6.2 and 6.3 and are in receipt of the IB payment or credits for at least two (2) years.

Where an applicant/QA does not have two (2) years on the IB payment or credits, periods spent on other BTEA qualifying payments (see 4.1,5.1, 6.1 and 3.4) can be used to count towards the qualifying period provided that at least 50% of the period is accounted for as an IB payment or credit.

With respect to applicants approved for BTEA from IB credits only, no payment will be made but IB credits may continue to be made towards future potential DSP entitlements.

DA customers who lost their entitlement to DA because  of participation on an Erasmus year of study, may access the BTEA scheme from  the date of commencement of their Erasmus participation, where SUSI is not in  payment. The customer must satisfy all the other eligibility rules with the  exception of the late claims provision and not commencing first year of the  course. (Provision 7.2).


7. Information general to all options

7.1 Proof of registration

For all BTEA participants, written confirmation from the relevant institute of education that the applicant has registered as full-time day student must be provided. This registration letter must contain details of the course of study as outlined in the BTEA application, start date and finish date of the course for the current academic year.

This document is only acceptable from the Registrars, Admissions office, Student Records Office

Payment will not issue until applicants provide this written confirmation either for new claims or resumptions. Failure to supply relevant documentation with 30 days will result in the application being deemed withdrawn.

7.2 Commencement of BTEA after first year of an approved course of study

In certain circumstances, the condition that applicants must be commencing the first year of a full-time course to be approved for BTEA can be waived, subject to all other scheme conditions being full-filled. Determining Officers and Case Officers may waive the conditions where the BTEA applicant:

  • has been granted an exemption or credits by the educational institution based on a previous qualification(s), other education attainment or life/work experience or
  • had completed the earlier year(s) of the course of study on a part-time basis or
  • had completed the earlier year(s) on a full-time basis before becoming unemployed, or being made redundant and receiving statutory redundancy from their full-time employment, (jobseekers opting for voluntary redundancy are excluded from this provision)
  • is permitted by the educational institution to proceed to the next year of a course after having previously dropped out or deferred a year due to mitigating circumstances* that would have made it unreasonable to expect an applicant to have continued the course
  • From 4 July 2013, former One Family Parent customers affected by age related change to OFP in full-time education who did not opt for BTEA at the start of the course may be admitted to BTEA i.e. with effect from a current date. The customer must satisfy all the other eligibility rules with the exception of the late claims provision and not first year of the course. The customer cannot be in receipt of both BTEA and a Student Maintenance grant. RSU circulars 47/13, 61/13, 24/14 and 17/15 detail the position.
  • Clients who were in receipt of Disability Allowance  payment within 30 days prior to the commencement of their Erasmus  participation, may access BTEA to participate in the one year EU Erasmus  programme as part of their studies.

*Mitigating circumstances can include a long-term illness or injury requiring prolonged absence from attendance at lectures, the serious illness of an immediate family member requiring the participant undertaking a caring responsibility, discontinuance of the course by the educational institution, force majeure.

7.3 Progression in Education course

In general, BTEA should only be approved where the course of study leads to a higher qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications other than that already held by the applicant. Applicants holding a qualification at tertiary education level (certificate, diploma, primary degree or post graduate qualification) should not be approved for BTEA to pursue a course at a similar qualification level*.

In certain limited circumstances BTEA can be approved where the applicant proposes to undertake a course of study leading to a qualification at either FETAC Levels 5 or 6 where the applicant already holds qualification at the same level or lesser level. In order for such an application to be recommended and subsequently approved, a Case Officer will consider their recommendation in terms of further professional/career development and the applicant’s overall job prospects and ensuring that the:

  • course of study at Level 5 or 6 is at second level
  • previous educational award is deemed to be in an economic sector that is no longer growing
  • proposed course of study is career orientated and consistent with future skills needs and/or local demand
  • maximum course duration of the course of study is 24 months
  • applicant worked for a period of at least three years and has paid PRSI contribution, AND
  • previous educational award was made 3 or more years prior to the commencement date of the new proposed course.

BTEA cannot be approved for an applicant holding a level 7 qualification or higher and proposing to undertake a course of study at a lower level.

*Reference should be made to appendix 3 – National Qualification Framework. If a HETAC level 8 degree is held, application to study for HETAC level 8 Higher Diploma can be approved. A person who already holds a level 7 ordinary degree can only apply for the one year add-on honours degree course. They are not eligible to commence a new four year level 8 degree course.

7.4 BTEA to undertake work placement/Thesis preparation

In circumstances where BTEA participants have to, as an integral, compulsory or mandatory part of their course of study, undertake a period of work placement/experience, prepare a thesis or dissertation, BTEA can continue in payment for this period. The participant must give written notification in advance or signal this course content in the application. DO’s should require written evidence from the Registrars’ Office/Admissions Office or Student Records Office of the educational institution before confirming payment to cover this periods. Such confirmation to indicate clearly the start and completion date.

7.5 Erasmus*

BTEA participants may be approved for payment if pursuing a year of their course of study under the EU Erasmus Programme. Determining Officers should require written evidence from the Registrars’ Office/Admissions Office or Student Records Office of the educational institution before confirming payment to cover this period. Such confirmation to be received in advance of travel abroad and to include a statement that the year abroad is an integral part of the course, the start and end date of the course and the details of the college abroad where the study will be conducted and contact details of the participant while studying abroad.

*The Erasmus Programme is an EU exchange student programme that has been in existence since the late 1980’s. Its purpose is to provide foreign exchange options for students from within the European Union.

7.6 Repeat years

BTEA should only be approved for payment to undertake a repeat year of study. Payment should only be approved in limited circumstances , where the participant is registered and attends a full-time student for the repeat year. Only one academic year may be repeated. BTEA should not be approved for repear students registered as external students and/or examination only students. Neither should approval be given for repeat students to undertake a repeat year of study on a part-time basis. 

*Mitigating circumstances can include a long-term illness or injury requiring prolonged absence from attendance at lectures, the serious illness of an immediate family member requiring the participant undertaking a caring responsibility, discontinuance of the course by the educational institution, force majeure

7.7 Failure to complete a course of study

A BTEA participant who fails to complete, or drops out of a course of study should not be approved for a BTEA payment to pursue a different course of study and recovery of sums paid as overpayment should be considered. Where evidence of mitigating circumstances15 are provided, Case Officer should be satisfied that in such circumstances it would be unreasonable to expect a BTEA participant to have continued the course of study.

7.8 Deferral of course

A BTEA participant who defers a year of their course of study should not be re-approved for a BTEA unless evidence of mitigating circumstances are provided as at 7.7. The Case Officer should be satisfied that in such circumstances it would be unreasonable to expect a BTEA participant to have continued the course of study.

Participant who defers a year of a course of study are deemed to be a new applicants and subject to the conditions on the date of re-application.

7.9 Back to Education Allowance and Student Grant Scheme (SUSI)

Applicants approved for BTEA (or VTOS for those pursuing post leaving certificate courses) are not eligible for the student support grants operated by SUSI on behalf of the Department of Education and Skill. BTEA participants are eligible for support to offset the cost of the student registration fee, including other fees payable to access courses, if the BTEA participant satisfies the eligibility criteria for both. All enquiries regarding Student Grant Scheme should be directed to http://www.susi.ie/

7.10 Method of Payment

BTEA is paid on a weekly basis by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT). Participants are required to supply details of their bank account at time of application and payment.

7.11 Secondary benefits

Participants continue to receive any secondary benefits to which they would otherwise have an entitlement under the provisions of the qualifying payment and legislative arrangements applying to the specific benefits. Secondary benefits may include:

  • Fuel Allowance
  • Rent allowance and Mortgage Interest Supplement under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme*.

*In order to have an entitlement to Rent Allowance when pursuing a full-time course, a jobseeker must be in receipt of BTEA or VTOS. Any increase in income or earnings from part-time employment will affect entitlement to a Rent/Mortgage Supplement. Also, all educational grants received are assessed for Rent Allowance and Mortgage Interest Supplement purposes. Enquiries to Intreo/CSW and/or rent allowance. In all cases, any change in circumstances must be notified.


8. Duration of Payment

8.1 BTEA awarded prior to 1st January 2013

Participant approved for BTEA before the 1st January 2013 will receive a weekly payment equivalent to the maximum standard personal rate of the qualifying payment (see 4.1, 5.1, 6.1) for the duration of a course of study (including progression to further study under BTEA). Participants receiving BTEA on the basis of being a qualified adult prior to 1st January 2013 will be paid the maximum personal rate for the qualifying payment (see 4.1, 5.1, 6.1) for the duration of course of study (including progression to further study under BTEA).

This provision will cease to apply in case where a participant breaks or completes a course of study (i.e. through failure to pass examinations) and does not resume study in the following academic year. In such cases, applicants should be treated as new applications under current rules in determining the level of BTEA payment.

Where applicable, the rate of qualified adult and child dependant payment included in the BTEA payment (for participants approved prior to 1st January 2013) should be determined by reference to the tapered QA rules that apply to JB cases.

This provision does not exclude recalculation of the rate of BTEA payment arising from any changes in circumstances in respect of the qualified adult and child dependant.

8.2 BTEA awarded since 1st January 2013

BTEA participants, other than those qualifying as a qualified adult, approved after 1st January 2013 receive a weekly payment rate equivalent to the value of the qualifying payment (see 4.1, 5.1, 6.1) and subject to the provisions of the means test where applicable to the qualifying payment and section 8.3 below.

Where a BTEA participant qualifies on the basis of a Jobseekers Allowance payment, the means test applicable should be used in determining the rate of BTEA payment and in any subsequent review.

Participants qualifying for BTEA as a qualified adult after 1st January 2013 should be paid BTEA at the QA rate of the relevant qualifying payment (see 4.1, 5.1, 6.1) . If the event of a change of entitlement to the qualifying payment (i.e. as a result of return to employment, change of means, separation) under which BTEA was awarded to the QA, the BTEA payment can be continued where the participant establishes an entitlement to a qualifying payment in their own right and at current rates of payment.

8.3 BTEA age related payments

Applicants aged under 26 years in receipt of an age related qualifying payment (applies to BTEA applicants with a jobseekers qualifying payment only - see 4.1) approved for BTEA will receive €160 per week. If means apply to the qualifying jobseekers payment, the BTEA payment is reduced by the value of the means.

.

In the situation where the BTEA participant is co-habiting with a spouse/civil partner (and the partner is not in receipt of BTEA payment), the BTEA participant is entitled to receive €160 p.w. subject to the maximum of the basic jobseeker rate (i.e. Non-age related payment) less any applicable means. Table below shows the appropriate rate will NIL means. Any means assessment should be applied as normal.

Age of Applicant Personal Rate Rate of Qualified Adult Total
18-24 JA €100 €100 €200
18-24 BTEA €160 €100 €260
Aged 25 JA €144 €124.80 €168.80
Aged 25 BTEA €160 €124.80 €284.80

In the scenario where both parties are subject to age related payments and are both engaged with BTEA the following will apply:



Under 26 years and both on BTEA €160 €160 Limited to €312.80
Aged 26 years and over( on basic jobseekers payment i.e non-age related payment ) €188.00 €124.80 €312.80

8.4 Increase payment in respect of qualified adult/child dependent

Other than provided for in section 8.1 above, where a qualifying adult/child dependents payment is included in the qualifying payment (see 4.1, 5.1, 6.1), the BTEA payment should be calculated to include these allowances. If there is a change in circumstances which effect increases for Qualified Adult/child entitlements, a review of these allowances should be completed and the rate payable for these allowances adjusted accordingly.

8.5 Qualified Adult Dependent of a jobseeker

The rate of payment for a BTEA participant who qualifies as the result of being a qualified adult on a jobseekers payment will be required to establish an entitlement to a qualifying payment in their own right before being approved for BTEA. This provision is operable for all new applicants from 2nd June 2015.


9. Effect of means on certain BTEA claims .

9.1 Part-time work

 From 2016/17 academic  year, BTEA participants, who take up part-time work within the academic year  will be assessed in accordance with their primary payment. Please see 9.2.

Officers should also note that part-time work may affect entitlements to secondary benefits such as Fuel Allowance, Rent Allowance/ Mortgage Interest Supplement. Information on such situation can be found on www.welfare.ie.

9.2 Paid Work Placement

Where a BTEA participant receives payment for an integral/mandatory/compulsory work placement (see section 7.4) this should be assessed as at 9.1. On completion of work placement, the participant should contact the Local Intreo Centre to reactovate the BTEA claim (subject to normal BTEA rules). 

9.3 Revised means decisions – effective from 1st January 2013

Where a change of circumstances based on means arises (i.e. where a spouse/partner commences or loses work, increased income) the BTEA payment rate must be revised using the rules applicable to means on the qualifying payment. Such change could also result in a requirement to review the rate payable in respect of a qualified adult/child dependent allowance.


10. Applications, Documentation and Decision Procedures

10.1 Applications.

All applications must be submitted on an official BTEA application form (BTE1) available on the Department’s website or in paper version at Intreo Centres. Officers should facilitate customers to make applications at the earlier opportunity with final decisions on eligibility and payment rates reserved until immediately prior to commencement of the course of study when confirmation is available. The BTEA application (and resumption of study) form must

  • Be completed in all respects
  • Contain supporting documentation in the name of the applicant, to include
    • CAO application receipt or equivalent from an educational institution detailing the proposed course of study and name of educational institution
    • If available, confirmation of commencement and finishing date of the course in the current academic year
    • recommendation of a Case Officer that the course of study is consistent with the requirements set out in these rules and guidelines.

The application process consists of the following steps:

  • 1. Completion and submission of the application form (BTE1) plus supporting documentation (confirmation of application to educational institution/CAO/ETB-FTE containing a statement of course choices or equivalent)
  • 2. Where required, an assessment by Case Officer of application and suitability of proposed course of study to jobseeker’s career development
  • 3. Where required, recommendation by the Case Officer based on final course offer from educational institution (admissions office/registrars confirmation)
  • 4. Completion of eligibility assessment by determining officer and issue of provisional award letter pending receipt of registration letter from educational institution
  • 5. On receipt of registration letter containing all relevant information, issue of full award letter and commencement of BTEA payment – see 7.1)
  • 6. Update of ISTS/TLA systems and file notes

Intreo Centres should advertise the opportunities afforded by BTEA by advising jobseekers and by displaying posters and other materials advertising the scheme.

10.2 Timing of applications.

Jobseekers should be encouraged to submit the BTE1 application form once they have applied for a course of study and have received notification from the educational institution/CAO that an application has been received (generally available from March each year).Case Officers and Determining Officers may make preliminary determination of suitability and eligibility pending final offer of a course of study by an educational institution (generally made from mid-August to mid-September each year).

In all cases, applications should be made in advance and no later than 30 days of the commencement of the course of study to enable scheduling of assessment processes and interviews with applicants, if deemed necessary and the establishment of eligibility and provisional award of payment by the Determining Officer.

10.3 Late applications

Applications received more than 30 days after commencement of a course of study are deemed to be late applications and therefore cannot be considered for the scheme.

10.4 Decisions

The Case Officer will determine suitability for the course of study and the alignment with the customer’s personal progression plan (if appropriate) with the Determining Officer has sole responsibility for assessing eligibility for the scheme and the making of decisions in respect of the issue of a provisional award letter and final award letter. Eligibility for the scheme can only be determined immediately prior to the commencement of the course. Final approval letters should only issue when all conditionality of the BTEA scheme are met in full (see 7.1) and following verification of payment requirements. A template letter is available on the Employment Support Services site on Stór. A copy of this letter should be kept on the customer’s file.

10.5 Refusals.

In the event that a Case Officer is unable to make a positive recommendation or if the conditions of entitlement are not satisfied, notification must issue to the applicant clearly stating the specific grounds for refusal of BTEA. The claimant must be advised of his/her right to have the decision communicated re-examined and reviewed within 21 days of the issue of the letter of refusal and the manner in which a request for a re-examination/review can be made.

10.6 Re-examination/review of decision to refuse.

Given the administrative nature of BTEA, decisions cannot be appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Divisions/Intreo Centres should put in place standard arrangements for dealing with re-examination and reviews of BTEA recommendations and award decisions.

An applicant who is not satisfied with a recommendation of a Case Officer and/or a decision of a Determining Office may request in writing to have their application and assessment re-examined and reviewed. The request must state clearly the basis of the review is being requested and enclosing any new evidence or any other information to address the reasons for refusal communicated by the Department.

A re-examination and review must be conducted by an officer of the Department with relevant knowledge of the operation of BTEA and not involved in the previous recommendation/decision or by a higher officer of the relevant Intreo Centre.

The reviewing officer should ensure the original decision and any new evidence supplied is examined taking these rules and guidelines into consideration in their entirety. The outcome of this re-examination and review should be clearly documented and communicated clearly to the applicant outlining in detail why the application has been awarded or refused and noting that all new evidence has been taken into consideration in coming to a final decision.

(If BTEA is refused based on the recommendation of the Case Officer, the review should be taken by another Case Officer or Area Manager in the Division attached to the relevant office.)

10.7 ISTS/TLA system.

Staff should ensure that all SLO/TLO/OSLO/OTLO/ISLO/ITLO applications received and processed are recorded/input on the TLA system (available on OFFICE). Data on the operation of BTEA is essential to the management of the scheme and therefore all applications should be recorded as:

  • Received
  • Pending
  • Awarded
  • Refused

A training manual for this system and relevant refusal and analysis codes are available on stór.


11. Control and change in circumstances

11.1 Control requirements

Officers should refer to the Department’s anti-fraud strategy which requires that effective divisional and local controls are implemented to protect the expenditure of public funds, prevent fraudulent activity/claims and minimise errors in the processing and approval of applications for BTEA. Actions relating to control of BTEA must be aligned with the aims to reduce fraud and abuse, minimise risks to public funds and eliminate incorrect payments.

Division must ensure that systematic verification processes, including reviews, are implemented during the payment cycle. And where required, termination of BTEA payment at academic year end. Additionally, divisions should provide for targeted inspections of BTEA participants to ensure ongoing compliance.

11.2 Responsibilities of the divisions/Intreo Centres

In general, at least 5% of BTEA payments should be examined annually. Measures undertaken at divisional level will be supported by control actions undertaken by BTEA central policy unit (see 11.5).

Failure by participants to comply with the rules and conditions of the scheme should result in termination of the BTEA payment and, where identified, the raising of an overpayment or consideration of a prosecution where fraudulent conduct is suspected. The actions of divisional staff is essential in ensuring that such situation do not arise, particularly in respect of providing information and guidance to participants on the ongoing need to advise the Department of any changes that might impact on eligibility to the BTEA scheme.

Primary responsibly for control and monitoring rests with the Determining Officer and the Case Officer managing the application.

Before payment is approved, the Determining Officer must ensure that a registration letter from the Registrar’s office of the respective college is provided confirming that the applicant is registered as a full-time student of that college and that this registration letter is consistent with the recommended course of study in the application form.

11.3 Finish dates and end of academic year processes

A form SLO8/TLO8 will issue centrally to BTEA participants on behalf of Intreo Centres in March/April annually to request the supply the course finish dates for the current academic year (normally date of last exam) and to determine a participant’s intentions for the future academic year. On return of the SLO8/TLO8 forms, Intreo Centres will ensure that actions set out in the TLO training manual are implemented. The training manual is available on the Employment Support Services site on Stór.)

In the absence of information or failure to notify the Department of future intentions by the return date of the SLO8/TLO8, Intreo Centres should cease payment to avoid overpayments arising.

11.4 Control following award of BTEA payment

Failure to comply with the conditions of the scheme may result in an overpayment and possible prosecution.

As outlined in RSU circulars 82/08, 107/09, 65/10, 67/13, 34/14 and 2/15A BTEA participant must provide documentary proof of their on-going attendance at their full time course of study to ensure continuing eligibility to the BTEA payment. This must be in the form of written confirmation or certification from the educational institution of continued registration and attendance at a full-time course of study.

Once awarded, BTEA participants are obliged to notify the Department immediately if they:

  • Cease attending their course of study
  • propose to transfer/change their course of study for which BTEA was originally awarded
  • intend to travel abroad as part of their course of study
  • undertake a work placement, including that for which they will receive an income
  • take up part-time employment
  • are affected by any change of circumstance that may affect their eligibility for the qualifying payment or the value of the BTEA payment.

Failure to or a delay in the supply of this information within a reasonable period should result in a termination of the BTEA payment and assessment of an overpayment:

11.5 Student Data Match

In addition and as part of wider Departmental control procedures a student data match takes place annually managed by Control Division section (Shannon Lodge). The Department requests and receives data from the Department of Education & Skills (via SUSI & HEA) in relation to all students on an annual basis under data sharing protocols agreed between the Department and these agencies. The Department receives data from SUSI and the HEA on college registration and student maintenance grant payments and matched against social welfare databases. Cases identified where a student is in full-time education and are in receipt of a DSP payment will be referred to the Special Investigation Unit for further investigation.

Similarly, details of BTEA participants are shared with SUSI in accordance with data sharing protocols between the Department and that agency.

11.6 Recovery of overpayments

Where BTEA participants are paid amounts to which they are not entitled, arrangements for debt recovery and prosecution of offenders will be pursued. A review may also be initiated on receipt of notification of any change in circumstances which may affect entitlement or the appropriate rate of payment. Where a participant has received BTEA payments from the Department of Social Protection, which he or she was not entitled to receive, the participant shall be liable to repay on demand a sum not exceeding the amount of the money received. Reference should be made to the Departmental guidelines on the recovery of debt.

Appendix 1

Information Leaflet (SW70) and application form (BTE1) are available from:

  • www.welfare.ie
  • Nationwide network of Social Welfare Local Offices/Intreo,
  • Employment Support Services, Back to Education Schemes Section, Shannon Lodge, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
  • Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo,
  • Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford,
  • Information Service, Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.

Completed application form (BTE1) should be returned to:

  • Persons in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit, Farm Assist One Parent Family Payment or Jobseekers transitional Payment (paid by your local Social Welfare Office/Intreo) must return the completed application form (BTE1) to the relevant Social Welfare Local Office.
  • Persons in receipt of a One-Parent Family Payment, (paid from Social Welfare Services Sligo) Deserted Wife's Allowance, Deserted Wife's Benefit, Widow's/Widower's Non-Contributory Pension, Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension, Prisoners Wife's Allowance or Blind Pension must return the completed application form (BTE1) to the Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.
  • Persons in receipt of Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement or Carer's Allowance must return the completed application form (BTE1) to Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford.
  • Persons in receipt of Illness Benefit must return the completed application form (BTE1) to Illness Benefit Section, Arás Mhic Dhiarmada, Store St., Dublin 1.

 

Details of Relevant changes to Third Level Allowance/Second Level Allowance & Back to Education Allowance since 1990:

1990

Third Level Allowance (TLA) first introduced. Applied to Jobseekers Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit only. Age criteria was 23 and qualifying period was 15 months

1993:

Extended to recipients of One Parent Family Payments Qualifying period reduced to 12 months.

1995:

Age criteria reduced to 21 years of age Qualifying period reduced to 6 months. 
TLA extended to Postgraduate qualifications (age criteria 24) provided applicant was on LR for at least 6 months after completing primary degree

1996:

TLA established as a separate stand-alone scheme. TLA payable at maximum personal rate. Book Allowance (€127.00) introduced. Payment of TLA during summer vacation period. Requirement to be for Postgraduate Option, on LR for 6 months after completing primary degree abolished

1997:

Second Level Allowance (SLA) established as a stand-alone scheme

1998:

Both the Second Level Allowance (SLA) and the Third Level Allowance (TLA) were merged into a unified Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) Scheme.
Disability Allowance and Blind Pension became relevant qualifying payments for BTEA purposes.
Annual Book Allowance was re-titled Cost of Education Allowance and increased to €190.00

1999

Annual Cost of Education Allowance increased to €254.00

2000

Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement and Carer's Allowance became relevant payments for BTEA purposes.
The Qualified Adult of a BTEA eligible person could "take over" the relevant Social Welfare payment in order to access the BTEA scheme. This arrangement is known as "Spousal Swap".
Periods spent on Back to Work Allowance, FAS Job Initiative and Job Start could count towards qualifying period for BTEA

2001:

Early School Leavers (18-20 year olds) qualified for BTEA provided out of formal education for at least 2 years.
People with disabilities who accessed Community Employment Schemes through the National Disability Authority (NDA) became eligible for BTEA without having to establish a Social Welfare entitlement

2002:

Persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Allowance/Benefit Widows Contributory/Non Contributory Pension and Prisoners Wife's Allowance without dependent children became eligible for BTEA.
BTEA was extended to persons in receipt of Illness Benefit for 3 years or more. Qualified Adult of BTEA eligible persons became eligible to access scheme in their own right (replaced "Spousal Swap")

2003

Summer payment to BTEA participants previously on Jobseekers Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit discontinued.
Postgraduate option of BTEA scheme restricted to Higher Diplomas (H.Dip.) or Postgraduate Diplomas in Education (Primary School Teaching)

2004

Qualifying period for TLO increased from 6 to 15 months

2005

Qualifying period for TLO reduced from 15 to 12 months
JA and JB recipients qualify for TLO at 9 months if participating in NEAP process.
Annual Cost of Education Allowance increased to €400.00

2006

Periods spent on SWA or Direct Provision from HSE to count towards qualifying period provided entitlement to relevant Social Welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study

2007

Qualifying period for Illness Benefit reduced to 2 years.
Persons awarded Statutory Redundancy may access scheme provided entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study. 1/9/2007

2008:

Annual Cost of Education Allowance increases to €500.00. Cost of Education Allowance extended to "credit only" cases

2009

Reduction of the qualifying period for Second level courses from 6 months (156 days) to 3 Months (78 days) for all qualifying payments. (1/5/2009).
Earlier access to Third level Option of the BTEA on the recommendation of the Job Facilitator. (Jobseekers claims only). (1/5/2009)

2010

Qualifying period for receipt of TLO courses reduced to 9 months( 234 days ) for all payments (July 2010) except Illness Benefit. (2 year qualifying period for Illness Benefit cases).
Relaxation of the condition of first year of course of study (July 2010).
BTEA recipients no longer eligible for Student Support Maintenance Grants (maintenance element only) September 2010

2011

BTEA recipients allowed to repeat only 1 year of their course of study (21 June 2011)

2012

Annual Cost of Education reduced from €500 to €300.
BTEA and Half rate JB, the half rate payment ceased for new applicants from 02 February 2012.

2013

The €300 cost of Education Allowance was abolished for new and existing BTEA participants form January 1st, 2013. This applies to all courses commencing after this date.

The practice of uprating over 25 year olds on all DSP payments to the maximum weekly rate is discontinued for new entrants only from 1 January 2013 and the uprating of under 25s on age related Jobseeker payments to a new reduced maximum rate of €160 applies to new entrants only from 1st Jan 2013. Under 25 year olds with means will have their means applied to the new €160 rate. Those currently engaged with BTEA and who are progressing, or who are mid-course (for example will finish year one in May 2013 and resume their studies in September 2013), will not be affected by the budget 2013 changes relating to ‘uprating’. This includes people progressing from SLO to TLO.

Qualified Adults are no longer entitled to the full personal rate of the qualifying DSP payment.

A person participating on DSP Work programmes ( CE, Tús, RSS etc.) , Work Placement programmes (JobBridge etc.),  Back to Work schemes , VTOS or FAS schemes must establish an entitlement to a qualifying DSP payment in order to qualify for BTEA at the applicable rate.

From 4 July 2013, former One Family Parent customers affected by age related changes to OFP in full-time education who did not opt for BTEA at the start of the course may be admitted to BTEA ‘mid-course’ where OFP is being withdrawn due to the age of the youngest child.

2014

All new BTEA (Jobseeker) applications from June 2014 will require Case Officer recommendation. 

Applicants wishing to pursue the new Professional Masters of Education (L9) will be able to avail of the BTEA if they have 312 days (12 months) on a qualifying payment and satisfy all other criteria. Illness Benefit recipients require 2 years or more to qualify.

BTEA applicants who already hold a Fetac Level 5 or Fetac Level 6 qualification may be allowed to pursue a course of study at either of these levels in limited circumstances and will require Case officer approval.

2015

Jobseekers benefit participants – payment ceases when benefit exhausts and all part-time work assessed in accordance with the primary payment.   If BTEA participant qualifies for Jobseekers allowance, BTEA can continue.

A Jobseeker / OFP/JST  BTEA participant must re-establish entitlement to their primary payment at the recommencement date of the next year or the commencement of a further year of education under the scheme.

Qualified Adults of BTEA qualifying payments must establish an entitlement to a BTEA qualifying payment in their own right in order to qualify for BTEA.

2016

All part-time work assessed in accordance with the primary payment
Study within Ireland and Northern Ireland  permitted.(exceptions apply). 

Former DA participant who was in receipt of a Disability allowance payment within 30 days prior to the commencement of their course, may access BTEA to participate in the one year EU Erasmus programme as part of their studies subject to not being in receipt of SUSI maintenance grant .

 

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Last modified:17/08/2016
 

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