Deserted Wife's Benefit (DWB)


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Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Index

Part 1: Entitlement

  • Description of scheme
  • Information leaflet
  • Administration:

Conditions of Continued Entitlement

  • Summary

Conditions of Continued Entitlement - in Detail

  • Desertion
  • Divorce
  • Age
  • Qualified Child/ren
  • Earnings
  • Maintenance
  • Cohabitation

Disqualifications

  • Re-Marriage
  • Desertion
  • Absence from the state
  • Imprisonment
  • Cohabitation

Rates Structure

  • Basic rate
  • Increases at age 66 and age 80
  • Increases for a Qualified Child

Options for Persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit With Qualified Children

  • Community Employment

Educational Supports

  • Back to Education Programmes
  • Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

Extra Allowances/Benefits

  • Family Income Supplement.
  • Living Alone Increase
  • Fuel allowance:
  • Over 66 Increase
  • Over 80 allowance:
  • After Death Benefits:
  • Carer's Allowance:
  • Household Benefits 
  • Free Travel:
  • Other Benefits available from the relevant Health Service Executive
  • Widow(ers) or Surviving Civil Partners Contributory Pension 

Overlapping Provisions

Part 2: Procedures Following Award

  • Payment Date
  • Payment Methods
  • Electronic Information Transfer (EIT)
  • Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT)
  • Arrears
  • Duration of Payment
  • Claim Maintenance
  • Lost/Stolen Card/Cheque action
  • Payment to an agent
  • Change of Post Office, Method of Payment or change of address
  • Absence from the State
  • Illness/Hospital Stays
  • Imprisonment
  • Certification of ongoing entitlement
  • Review
  • Suspension/Revocation/Reduction of Payment

Part 3: General Provisions Which Apply

  • Appendix A
  • Requirement to make appropriate efforts to obtain maintenance
  • Husband working and current address known
  • The "Efforts Condition" is regarded as being satisfied:
  • The "Efforts Condition" is regarded as not being satisfied:

Part 1: Entitlement

Description of scheme

Deserted Wife's Benefit is a payment made to a woman deserted by her husband. Entitlement to payment is based on social insurance contributions paid by the wife or her husband. Deserted Wife's Benefit scheme was closed off to new applications with effect from 2 January 1997, when One-Parent Family Payment was introduced.

Deserted Wife's Benefit was introduced in 1973.

See also separate guideline on One-Parent Family Payment.

Legislation:

The provisions relating to Deserted Wife's Benefit were contained in

  • Sections 110 - 113, Chapter 18 (Part II) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 1993, as amended, (Repealed by Section 19 Social Welfare Act 1996, except for those in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit on 2 January 1997 - Section 178 Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended.
  • Articles 84 - 90, Chapter 11 (Part II) of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2007, as amended. Amended by S.I. No. 222 of 2007.
Administration:

The scheme is administered by the Deserted Wife's Allowance/ Benefit Section, Social Welfare Services Sligo, College Road, Sligo.

Conditions of Continued Entitlement

Summary

A person who qualified for Deserted Wife's Benefit must continue to satisfy the following conditions to retain entitlement to the payment. She must:

  • have at least one qualified child residing with her if she is under 40 years of age - see below re "qualifying child"
    or
  • be over 40 if she has no qualified child
  • must not have earnings exceeding €20,000.00 per annum (applies only to claims for Deserted Wife's Benefit made on or after 31/8/92)
  • be inadequately maintained by her husband
  • continue to make appropriate efforts to obtain financial maintenance from her husband
  • not be cohabiting with any person
  • has not resumed living with her husband

Conditions of Continued Entitlement - in Detail

Desertion

A woman is regarded as having been deserted by her husband where

  • her husband left her of his own volition or his conduct resulted in her leaving him i.e. constructive desertion.
  • she is not being financially supported by her husband or if she is being supported, the amount is less than the rate of Deserted Wife's Benefit appropriate to her family size - see below re maintenance
  • she and her husband have lived apart for at least three months.

Where a husband and wife resume living together, desertion is no longer deemed to exist.

Divorce

A person who is divorced from her husband ( being a divorce that is recognised as valid in the State) and has not remarried, continues to be regarded as a deserted wife and qualifies for continued payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit, provided all other qualifying conditions are satisfied for receipt of benefit.

Age

A person aged under 40 can continue to receive payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit, provided she has at least one qualified child residing with her and satisfies all other qualifying conditions.

It is not a requirement for a woman, aged 40 or over, to have a qualified child/ren residing with her in order to continue receiving payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit.

However, a person whose payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit has been terminated (being under 40 years of age with no qualified child/ren) can apply to have payment restored when she reaches age 40 years.

Qualified Child/ren

A child is regarded as a "qualified child" for Deserted Wife's Benefit purposes, where the child is under 18 years and residing with the person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit. A child over the age of 18 may also be regarded as a "qualified child" up to the age of 22 (or the end of the academic year in which the child reaches age 22) where the child is in full-time education by day in an institution of education.

See separate guideline on Dependants for more detail on qualified child/ren.

Earnings

There is no earnings limit operational for persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit where the claim was made on or before 30 August 1992.

Where claims were made on or after 31 August 1992, the earnings limit for entitlement to Deserted Wife's Benefit is €20,000.00 increased from €12,697.38 a year (gross earnings) effective from 3 May 2007.

Prior to 3 May 2007, where earnings are in excess of €12,697.38 a year, there was an entitlement to a reduced rate of payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit, provided earnings did not exceed €17,776.33 a year (gross) - see below

Income range and corresponding percentage of personal rate payable

€12,697.38 - €13,967.11

80%

€13.967.11 - €15,236.85

60%

€15,236.85 - €16,506.59

40%

€16,506.59 - €17,776.33

20%

Earnings may be from employment or self-employment.

Maintenance

Men and women are required under Social Welfare legislation to maintain their spouse and children. A husband who fails to maintain his family, must contribute to the cost of any Deserted Wife's Benefit payment made to his wife, under the Liability to Maintain Family provisions effective from November 1990.

See separate guideline on Liability to Maintain Family.

Where a person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit is not receiving maintenance from her husband or is receiving maintenance which is less than the rate of Deserted Wife's Benefit appropriate to her family size, she is required to make, and continue to make, efforts to obtain maintenance from her husband in respect of herself and qualified children.

In determining whether a wife is being adequately maintained by her husband for the purposes of Deserted Wife's Benefit, mortgage may be offset against any maintenance in payment, with the exception of €6.35 a week.

See Appendix A for what constitutes the making of efforts to get maintenance.

Where a person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit is adequately maintained by her husband i.e. receiving maintenance equal or greater than the rate of Deserted Wife's Benefit appropriate to her family size, Deserted Wife's Benefit is no longer payable.

Where a person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit is in receipt of a maintenance payment by way of a Family Law Court Order, she is liable to transfer any payments received through the court to the Minister for Social Protection, including any payment made in respect of children.

See separate guideline on Liability to Maintain Family

Cohabitation

Deserted Wife's Benefit is not payable while a person is cohabiting with someone.

Disqualifications

Re-Marriage

Deserted Wife's Benefit is not payable once a person remarries.

Desertion

Deserted Wife's Benefit is not payable where a husband and wife resume living together.

Absence from the State

Deserted Wife's Benefit is not payable to a person residing outside the State. A person is however, allowed reasonable absences i.e. up to a maximum of 3 weeks outside the State for the purposes of holidays, attending a funeral etc. and receive payment.

If a claimant leaves the state for a period exceeding 3 weeks, she will be disqualified from receiving payment from the date of departure. However, payment can be restored if the period of disqualification does not exceed 12 months.

See Part 2 and separate guideline on Absence from the State

Imprisonment

A person is disqualified from receiving the personal rate of payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit for any period during which she is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody. Increases for a qualified child may be paid to another person in certain circumstances.

See Part 2 and separate guideline on Payment Methods for more detail.

Cohabitation

Deserted Wife's Benefit is not payable while a person is cohabiting with someone.

Rates Structure

Basic rate

Deserted Wife's Benefit is made up of a personal rate and, where applicable, an increase for qualified child/ren.

Contributions and rates payable

48 or over

Maximum personal rate is payable.

36 - 47
24 - 35

Reduced rates are payable

Note: A yearly average of 39 contributions paid or credited over the 3 or 5 years, prior to date of desertion of spouse or pension age, whichever is the earlier, gives entitlement to the maximum rate of pension.

See the Rates Booklet SW 19 which is issued annually for the current rates of payment.

For claims to Deserted Wife's Benefit made on or after 31 August 1992, the personal rate of payment will also depend
on the level of earnings.

Increases at age 66 and age 80

The rate of payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit is increased at age 66 and again at age 80.

Increases for a Qualified Child

An increase in payment is made in respect of qualified child/ren up to age 18, or up to end of academic year (June) of the year in which the qualified child reaches age 22, if s/he is in full-time education by day at an institution of education.

The Department must be satisfied that the child/ren are normally residing with the person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit and that she is financially maintaining the child/ren. Attendance at the school/college must be certified by the institution in question.

See also separate guideline on Dependants for more detail on increase for a qualified child.

Options for Persons With Qualified Children

Community Employment

Community Employment is a training/employment programme administered by FAS. Conditions of participation are set down by FAS.

Persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit, with qualified child/ren, are eligible to apply to participate in Community Employment if they are in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit for 6 months. Persons who previously had to opt to transfer to One-Parent Family Payment in order to be accepted as a participant on the Community Employment Scheme, may now apply to have their entitlement to Deserted Wife's Benefit restored.

Since 1 January 2012 new participants cannot be in receipt of concurrent Social Welfare Payments. Existing participants in receipt of Deserted Wives Benefit will continue to get their Social Welfare Payment until they are no longer eligible to participate in a CE Scheme or they leave the scheme voluntarily.

See separate guideline on One-Parent Family Payment for more details.

Educational Supports

Back to Education Programmes

Persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit, are eligible, subject, to certain conditions, to participate in the Back to Education Programme. They must be over the age of 21 and in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit for 6 months.

Under the Back to Education Programme, a person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit may take up approved second and third level education and retain social welfare payment and any secondary benefits which they are already entitled to. Secondary Benefits are Fuel Allowance, Rent Supplement and Mortgage Interest Supplement and Medical Card

If qualified, a person would receive

  • For any new applications received on or after 01 January 2013 the weekly rate of BTEA will be the same as the social welfare payment being received before going back to education. Prior to 01 January 2013, a payment ( Back to Education allowance) equivalent to their current Deserted Wife's Benefit or the maximum rate of One-Parent Family Payment whichever is the higher rate.
  • The cost of Education Allowance was discontinued for existing and new participants since 1 January 2013
  • retain secondary benefits already in payment (see above)

As the Back to Education allowance is not means tested, a person may work to supplement her income.

Application should be made to the Department to participate in this scheme as soon as a place has been secured on an approved second or third level course.

See separate guidelines on Back to Education Allowance for more detail.

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

This scheme is administered by the Department of Education and Science and is operated through Education and Training Boards (ETB). To participate, a person must be in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit, for 6 months and be at least 21 years of age. Application should be made to the local ETB for a place on a scheme.

Payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit will be made in the normal way while attending a VTOS course. Secondary benefits may also be retained ( as above). Application should be made to the Department when a place has been secured on a course.

See separate guideline on VTOS.

Extra Allowances/Benefits

Additional allowances and benefits are payable as follows:

Family Income Supplement.

Where a person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit is working for an employer and on low income, she may be entitled to this supplement in addition to Deserted Wife's Benefit. Certain conditions apply in relation to hours of work, duration of employment. A means test also applies.

See separate guideline on Family Income Supplement for more detail.

Living Alone Increase

Payable to persons aged 66 or over and who are living alone. This would apply where a person is living entirely alone or where the child(ren) is in full-time education living away from home and, as a result, the person is living entirely alone for most of the year.

See separate guideline on Living Alone Increase for more detail.

Fuel allowance

Payable for a 26 week period from October to April if a person is living alone or with qualified children or other categories of exempted persons. Only one Fuel allowance per household is payable. A person must apply for the allowance.

See separate guideline on National Fuel Scheme for more detail.

Over 66 Increase

An increased payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit is made to a person aged 66 and over. There is no need to apply for this increase which is paid automatically by the Department.

Over 80 allowance

An additional allowance is payable to persons who are 80 years or over. There is no need to apply for this increase which is paid automatically by the Department.

After Death Benefits

On the death of a qualified child, payment continues for six weeks at the rate of payment at the date of death.
Notification of the date of death should be given to the Department at the earliest possible date.

See separate guideline on Payment Methods for fuller detail.

The Bereavement Grant has been discontinued and is not payable for deaths occurring on or after 1 January 2014.

Carer's Allowance

From 27 September 2007 a person who is claiming Deserted Wife's Benefit and who is providing full time care to another person may now apply for Carer's Allowance and retain their current payment in full. If she satisfies the conditions for Carer's Allowance it will be awarded at 50% of the personal rate that she would qualify for if she were not in receipt of another social welfare payment. She will also be eligible for Household Benefits and a Free Travel Pass.

See " Carer's Allowance" guidelines for more information.

Household Benefits

Free Travel
When a person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit reaches age 66, a Free Travel Pass is issued automatically by the Department.

In certain circumstances such a person, aged 66 or over, may also qualify for:

  • Free Electricity/Natural Gas/Bottled Gas Refill Allowance
  • Free Television Licence

For fuller detail see relevant guidelines

Other Benefits available from the relevant Community Welfare Officers

A person may also qualify for:

  • Rent or Mortgage Interest Subsidy
  • Back to School Clothing and Footwear
  • Exceptional Needs Payments

Benefits available from the relevant Health Service Executive

  • Medical Card

See separate guideline on Supplementary Welfare Allowance for further details.

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partners' Contributory Pension

A woman whose husband dies while she is in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit, is entitled automatically to Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partners' Contributory Pension at the rate of Deserted Wife's Benefit in payment. If entitlement to Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partners' Contributory Pension, based on a wife's own social insurance contributions or those of her husband, is at a higher rate of payment than the rate of Deserted Wife's Benefit, the higher rate of entitlement will be paid.

See separate guideline for more detail on Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partners' Contributory Pension.

Overlapping Provisions

Deserted Wife's Benefit is not payable in addition to other social welfare payments, except in the following circumstances:

(i) A person in receipt of the maximum rate Deserted Wife's Benefit (who is not also in receipt of Blind Pension) may be paid one of the following payments at half the personal rate provided the conditions for receipt of such payment are satisfied prior to January 2012:

  • Illness Benefit (for up to 15 months)
  • Health and Safety Benefit
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Jobseeker's Benefit (for up to 15 months)
  • Injury Benefit
  • Incapacity Supplement (for up to 15 months)

(ii) Where a person is in receipt of a reduced rate Deserted Wife's Benefit, she may also be paid one of the above benefits, provided that the total payment does not exceed the sum of the maximum rate of Deserted Wife's Benefit combined with half the personal rate of benefit concerned.

Note: Where a person was in receipt of Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement in addition to Deserted Wife's Benefit on 5 April 1990, they continue to be entitled to such benefit or supplement until the end of the period of incapacity for work.

Note: These half rate payments cease for new applicants of Jobseekers Benefit, Illness Benefit or Incapacity Benefit from January 2012.

(iii) Family Income Supplement may be payable to employed persons on low income in addition to Deserted Wife's Benefit. However, the amount of Deserted Wife's Benefit in payment is assessable as means.

(iv) Blind Pension is payable in addition to Deserted Wife's Benefit to age 66, subject to statutory conditions being satisfied. Where a person is in receipt of Blind Pension and Deserted Wife's Benefit the following benefits are not payable:

  • Illness Benefit,
  • Maternity Benefit,
  • Health and Safety Benefit,
  • Adoptive Benefit,
  • Jobseeker's Benefit,
  • Injury Benefit
  • Incapacity Supplement

(v) Disablement Benefit at the personal rate is payable in addition to Deserted Wife's Benefit.

(See separate guideline on Disablement Benefit for more details)

Increase for a qualified child, is only payable once in respect of a child and is not payable to the husband of the deserted wife on another social welfare payment. There is no half rate increase for a qualified child payable with Deserted Wife's Benefit.

Where a person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit is also in receipt of Blind Pension, payment of increase for a qualified child may be made with both payments.

Part 2: Procedures Following Award

Payment Date

Deserted Wife's Benefit is payable weekly in advance on a Thursday. Where the day from which payment takes effect is a day in the week other than Thursday, the payment takes effect as from the next following Thursday. The same procedure applies where there is a change in the rate of payment.

Payment Methods

There are 2 methods of payment:

Electronic Information Transfer (EIT)

Payment may be made by way of a Social Welfare Services Card (swipe card) which can be used at a Post Office nominated by a person.

Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT)

Payment may be made by EFT paid weekly directly into a chosen Bank or Building Society Savings Account.

Arrears

Any arrears of payment due are paid by cheque.

See separate guideline on Payment Methods.

Duration of Payment

Deserted Wife's Benefit is payable for as long as a person continues to satisfy the qualifying conditions and is not disqualified for any reason. Where a person is under 40 years of age and her last qualified child reaches 18 (or up to 22 if in full-time education), both personal payment and increase for a qualified child cease simultaneously. The person is advised in writing in advance that the payment will cease and advised of other appropriate payments which she may be entitled to claim.

She is also advised that she can re-apply for the payment when she reaches age 40.

Note: Once Deserted Wife's Benefit is terminated a person cannot reapply again for this payment. However, there are two exceptions:

- where payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit is terminated because a person is under 40 years of age and she has no qualified child resident with her, she can reapply for Deserted Wife's Benefit, when she reaches age 40.

Deserted Wife's Benefit recipients who are disqualified from receiving payment because they leave the state can again become entitled to the payment if the period of disqualification does not exceed 12 months.

Where a qualified child dies, payment continues for six weeks at the rate in payment at the date of death. See separate guideline on Payment Methods for more detail on after death payments.

Claim Maintenance

Stop dates are inserted on the Department's computer system as appropriate e.g. to stop the payment of an increase for a child where s/he reaches age 18 and is not continuing in full-time education. Payment is stopped automatically where a person is under age 40 and the last qualified child residing with her, reaches 18 and is not continuing in full-time education. Payment may be continued, where a qualified child over 18 is continuing in full-time education. Payment terminates when the qualified child reaches age 22 (or at the end of the academic year (June) in which the child reaches age 22.

Lost/Stolen Card/Cheque action

When a Social Welfare Services card or a cheque from the Department is lost or stolen it should be reported to the Department immediately. The Gardaí and the Post Office of payment should be also be notified immediately of any such loss or theft.
See separate guideline on Payment Methods for more detail.

Payment to an agent.

A person who is unable to use her Social Welfare Services card, may have another person nominated to collect payment on her behalf in certain circumstances.

See also separate guideline on Payment Methods for fuller detail in relation to appointment of an agent.

Change of address, Post Office, or Method of Payment

The Department should be notified as soon as possible by phone or in writing. See separate guideline on Payment Methods for more details.

Absence from the State

Deserted Wife's Benefit is not payable outside of the State.

A person should notify the Department if leaving the State and payment will be terminated. Payment may be made in certain circumstances for a short period ( up to 3 weeks) during which a person is temporarily outside the State e.g. on holidays etc.

If a claimant leaves the state for a period exceeding 3 weeks she will be disqualified from receiving payment from date of departure. However, payment can be restored if the disqualification does not exceed 12 months. See separate guideline on Payment Methods for more details.

Illness/Hospital Stays

Arrangements may be made for payment where a person is too ill to attend Post Office to cash payment. See separate guideline on Payment Methods for more details.

Imprisonment

A person is disqualified from receiving Deserted Wife's Benefit including any increases, for any period during which she is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.

There are some exceptions to this disqualification i.e. increase for child dependant/s may be paid to another person. See separate guideline on Payment Methods for more details.

Certification of ongoing entitlement

Social Welfare legislation puts an onus on a person to notify the Department of any changes in circumstances which may affect entitlement to Deserted Wife's Benefit.

On being notified of an award of Deserted Wife's Benefit, a person is issued with a list of circumstances which could affect her continued entitlement to the payment. The person is requested to advise the Department of any such changes in circumstances.

The following are some circumstances and events which may affect a person's entitlement to Deserted Wife's Benefit:

  • Change in person's earnings ( for claims made on or after 31 August 1992)
  • Change of address
  • Change of Post Office
  • Death of person or child dependant
  • A qualified child no longer living with or being maintained by person
  • A qualified child who reaches 18 years years ( or between 18 and 22) and not in continuing full-time education.
  • Imprisonment or detention of person or qualified child
  • Person or qualified child leaves the State
  • Change in household composition including the birth of an additional child
  • Cohabitation with another person
  • Re-marriage
  • If spouse/other parent of child begins/resumes maintenance payments or if a Court Maintenance Order is enforced
  • If husband and wife resume living together

Failure to notify the Department of any of the above events may result in overpayment of which may be recoverable from a person by way of lump sum repayment or deductions from weekly payment It may equally result in an underpayment of Deserted Wife's Benefit e.g. where earnings have reduced, additional child is born to the family. Effective date of payment of any underpayment of benefit, would normally be decided by reference to legislative and other provisions in relation to late claims.

See at Part 2 of the Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partners (Contributory) Pension guidelines and separate guideline on Claims and Late Claims.

See separate guideline on Overpayment Recovery for more detail.

Review

A review is initiated when the Department is notified of any change in circumstances which may affect entitlement. This review may be carried out by way of a visit from a Social Welfare Inspector or by direct correspondence or phone contact with the person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit.

Periodic reviews are also initiated by the Department to confirm that the appropriate payment is being made to the appropriate person and that the qualifying conditions for receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit continue to be fulfilled.

Suspension/Revocation/Reduction of Payment

Where initial enquiries with a person, including written communication, fail to establish the facts as required e.g. current address, current earnings, household composition etc. payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit may be suspended in whole/part until the relevant information has been provided by the person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit.

Where the facts have been established, following a review of the qualifying conditions for payment of Deserted Wife's Benefit, and where a Deciding Officer deems that the qualifying conditions are no longer fulfilled, the person will be so advised in writing. There will be a right of appeal against any such decision.

See also separate guidelines on Decision Making, and on Revised Decisions.

If an overpayment of Deserted Wife's Benefit has occurred it may be recoverable by the Department. See separate guideline on Overpayment Recovery for more detail.

Part 3: General Provisions Which Apply

Appendix A

Requirement to make appropriate efforts to obtain maintenance

One of the qualifying conditions for entitlement to Deserted Wife's Benefit is that a person makes and continues to make appropriate efforts to obtain maintenance from her husband.

[ Note: Notwithstanding these "efforts" obligations on individuals in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit, the Department may pursue the liable relative (husband and/or father of qualified child/ren) directly, under the "Liability to Maintain Family" provisions of the Social Welfare Acts, for a maintenance contribution towards the Deserted Wife's Benefit in payment to a wife and/or child(ren).]

The "efforts to obtain maintenance" obligation on persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit, applies as follows:

Husband working and current address known

If the husband is working and the person in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit has not succeeded in obtaining maintenance from him, the person should:

  • approach the local District Court Clerk with a view to taking out a maintenance summons
  • provide a copy of the maintenance summons to the Department
    or
  • provide proof that husband and wife are involved in structured mediation which includes negotiations about the financial support of the wife and qualified children

Whereabouts of husband unknown

If a wife does not know whereabouts of her husband, she may be required to provide evidence that she has tried to trace her husband e.g. proof that she had reported him missing to the Gardai

If wife thinks spouse is resident in another country

Wife may be requested to ask the Department of Social Security (in the case of the UK) to help trace her husband with a view to serving a maintenance summons on him, or to initiate proceedings through the central authority (the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform) designated in the Maintenance Act 1994, which covers reciprocal maintenance action in EU and a number of other countries.

The "Efforts Condition" is regarded as being satisfied:

  • if the separated couple is involved in a structured mediation process which addresses the husband's liability to maintain his wife and qualified children
  • if husband is working in this country or abroad and the wife approaches the District Court Clerk and requests that a maintenance summons be served on him
  • if the wife takes her husband to court for maintenance but the amount awarded is less than the rate of Deserted Wife's Benefit appropriate to the family size, or the husband refuses to pay any maintenance or pays at a rate less than the appropriate Deserted Wife's Benefit rate;
  • if the wife cannot trace her husband and has made an effort to do so, for example by reporting him as missing to the Gardai etc.
  • if the husband is in receipt of a Social Welfare payment only, the wife is not required to take any action.
  • if current income of the husband is too low to reasonably expect that any maintenance payment can be made
  • if evidence is available to prove allegations that husband is violent and that there is a consequent risk to the wife in the event of further contact.

The "Efforts Condition" is regarded as not being satisfied:

  • if the wife refuses to involve herself in mediation which could address, among other things, financial support from her husband
  • if the wife refuses or fails to make any efforts to trace her husband;
  • if she refuses or fails to take her husband to court for maintenance, or varying order, where the husband has an adequate source of income and his address is known;
  • where inadequate or unreasonable maintenance is in payment, given the circumstances of the husband.
Retention/Destruction of File

Documents in respect of an application for payment are retained and are not destroyed until the expiration of two complete calendar years after the year of death of the claimant. A random sample of 10% of files due to be so destroyed are retained for archival purposes in accordance with the National Archives Act.

Last modified:29/01/2015
 

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