Family Income Supplement


Print page

Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Index

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

        Description of Scheme
        Information Leaflet
        Legislation
        Administration
        Qualifying Conditions in Summary:
        Qualifying Conditions in Detail
                    A. Full Time Remunerative Employment
                    B Qualified Child/ren
                    C Average weekly income
        What Counts as Family Income?
        What does not Count as Family Income?
        Assessable Earnings:
        Calculation of Average Assessable Earnings
        Special Categories
Income from Self-employment
Other Income
Disregards
        Disqualifications
                    Absence from the State:
                    Prison
                    Trade Dispute
                    Late Claims
        Rates Structure
        Extra Benefits
        Overlapping Provisions
 

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES:

            Claims
            Late Claims
            Documentation
            Investigation of Claim
            Decisions
            Appeals

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

            Payment
            Duration of Payment
            Maintenance
            Certification of ongoing entitlement
            Review
            Suspension of payment

PART 1 : ENTITLEMENT

Description of scheme

Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a regular weekly tax-free Social Welfare payment.

The target group of FIS are people who are working for a minimum of 38 hours every fortnight and are maintaining one or more children.

The Scheme was introduced in 1984.

 

Information Leaflet

"Family Income Supplement" SW 22

 

Legislation

The main provisions relating to FIS are contained in Part 6 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 and the main Regulations are contained in Statutory Instrument 142/2007.

 

Administration

The scheme is administered by FIS Section, Department of Social Protection, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford.

 

Qualifying Conditions:

Summary

The applicant must:

* Be an employee in full-time remunerative employment for 38 hours or more every fortnight (19 hours per week) which is likely to last for at least 3 months.

* Have at least one qualified child who is normally living with him/her or is part of a family and being supported by him/her

* Have an average weekly income below a prescribed amount

Entitlement is not affected by whether the applicant is

  • married, in a civil partnership, unmarried, separated, widowed, divorced or had a marriage / civil partnership annulled
  • living with a spouse or a civil partner or a cohabitant or
  • a lone parent

 

Qualifying Conditions in Detail

A. Full Time Remunerative Employment

The claimant must be in employment as an employee, under a contract of service; self-employment does not qualify as employment in this context. The spouse or civil partner/cohabitant may however be self-employed and income from such self-employment is assessed in relation to the income condition.

They must be in paid employment. Voluntary work for charities etc., would not satisfy this condition.

Self-employment does not qualify as employment in this context. A spouse or civil partner/cohabitant may however be self-employed and income from such self-employment is assessed in relation to the income condition.

Employees who have a contract that specifies that they are paid only on the basis of work carried out (i.e. are not paid a basic wage) are considered to be in self-employment and do not qualify for FIS.

Full-time employment is defined as employment for 38 hours or more per fortnight which is expected to last for at least 3 months.

Article 175 of Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payment and Control) Regulations 2007 refers.

The following types of employment do not fulfil this condition:

  • casual work
  • seasonal work of less than 3 months.
  • community employment (CE)
  • Rural Social Scheme
  • employment under the part-time job opportunities programme arranged by the council of religious of Ireland (CORI).
  • TÚS (Community Work Placement Initiative)

The following types of employment are acceptable where a person works 19 hours weekly or more:

  • job initiative schemes
  • Social Economy Programme
  • part time job incentive schemes.

The condition regarding the number of weekly hours worked may be satisfied by combining the hours worked by the applicant and by his/her spouse or civil partner/cohabitant (if any) where both are employees. All hours combined in this way must satisfy the normal rules (e.g. hours from self-employment or CE are not counted).

An applicant may engage in self-employment in addition to their paid employment during the period of their FIS claim if the paid employment satisfies the qualifying conditions. Any income earned from such self-employment is assessable for the purposes of determining entitlement to FIS.

 

B Qualified Child/ren

An applicant must have at least one qualified child normally living with him/her or be part of a family supported by him/her.

Or

In the case of parents who are separated, a parent who is wholly or mainly maintaining a former spouse can qualify for FIS. However, only one FIS payment can be made in respect of any family.

A qualified child is any child under age 18, or aged 18 to 22 if in full-time day education.

A person included in one particular family for any period for FIS purposes cannot be regarded as a member of any other family during that period.

C Average weekly family income

 The average weekly income of the applicant (and spouse, civil partner or cohabitant) must be below a prescribed income limit. These income limits are reviewed annually and the current limits are given in the Department's rates of payment booklet SW 19.

What Counts as Family Income?

All family income except that which is specifically disregarded – see below.

The following are some examples of items counted as income are:

  • The applicant's average assessable earnings
  • Their spouse/ civil partner's/ cohabitant’s average assessable earnings
  • Normal net weekly value of any other income the applicant or his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant may have from self-employment
  • Income from farming
  • Income from occupational pensions
  • Income from subsidiary employment e.g. fire fighting
  • Benefit in kind
  • Working and Child Tax Credits from DSS in Northern Ireland.
  • Rental Income from the letting of property or land
  • Any other income a claimant or his/her spouse/civil partner/ cohabitant may have including social welfare payments, and any maintenance payments but excluding those listed below.
  • Carer’s Allowance
    1/3 assessed in 2012, 2/3 in 2013 and total in 2014

The following Social Welfare and Health Service Executive payments are not counted as income for this purpose:

  • Child Benefit
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Foster Child Allowance
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory) or Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
  • Rent Allowance for tenants affected by the De-Control of Rents
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Other income which is also not counted:

  • Income from a charitable organisation (Unless from employment)
  • Unearned income (for example interest on savings)
  • Income from providing accommodation to students studying Irish in Gaeltacht areas under a scheme administered by the Minister for the Gaeltacht.

Assessable Earnings:

Assessable earnings for FIS purposes is average gross pay minus income tax, minus Employee PRSI, minus (Universal Social Charge, Superannuation, Contributions to PRSA) and Public Service Pension Levy.

Any extra income a claimant and his/her spouse/civil partner/ cohabitant have from employment such as, overtime, bonuses, allowances or commission is also counted.

Calculation of average assessable earnings.

To determine average assessable earnings, it is normal practice to look at an applicant’s and their spouse / civil partner’s / cohabitant’s earnings over a long period of time.  If you (both of you) have been working for over a year, we calculate the average earnings from the latest P60.

However, if you / your spouse / civil partner / cohabitant have only recently commenced/changed employment or had a change to the conditions of your employment (e.g. reduced hours) we would normally calculate the average assessable earnings on the earnings since the start of the employment / tax year / date conditions changed.

However, we reserve the right to calculate the average assessable earnings over a different period if we deem it more appropriate.

Income from Self-employment

Income from any form of self-employment is assessable as part of your weekly family income.  Income from the 12 month period prior to the date of your claim is used to calculate this income.  We normally request the latest set of accounts to help in determining this.

Other Income

Next we assess any other income from any sources you / your spouse / civil partner / cohabitant has e.g. maintenance contributions or other contributions such as mortgage/rent payments, or school fees from an ex-spouse / ex-civil partner / ex-cohabitant / parent of your child/ren, rental income form other properties/land, income from occupational pensions, payments from the Department of Social Protection / other Social Secutiry Agencies / HSE etc.

Most income iss assessable.  If the applicant is in doubt, they should disclose the income and we will decide whether it is assessable as income for FIS purposes.

Disregards

Lastly, we determine if any income that the applicant / their spouse  / civil partner / cohabitant has, can be disregarded.

The following incomes are disregarded:

1/3 of Carer’s Allowance / Benefit
Child Benefit
Death Benefit (Orphan’s) Pension
Domicilary Care Allowance
Family Income Supplement
Guardian’s Payment
Supplementary Welfare Allowance
Income from charitable organisations (unless it is earnings from employment)
Unearned income (e.g. interest on savings)
Income from providing accommodation to students studying Irish in Gaeltacht areas under a scheme administered by the Minister for the Gaeltacht.

Special Categories

A lone parent on low earnings may be entitled to FIS in addition to One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit or Widow's or Widower's (Contributory) Pension.

A person receiving a Back to Work Allowance as an employee may also qualify for a FIS payment.

In these cases the social welfare payment is assessable as means.

Under the Maternity Protection Act 1994, a woman who qualifies for Maternity Benefit is entitled to claim FIS. Employees who qualify for Health & Safety leave or Adoptive Benefit are also entitled to claim FIS.

(See also paragraph re < Overlapping Provisions>)

A person living outside the state but employed in the Republic of Ireland may also qualify for a FIS payment.

Disqualifications

Prison

FIS is not paid for periods a claimant spends in prison.

Trade Dispute

 A person taking part in a trade dispute is not eligible for FIS.

Late Claims

A person is disqualified for payment of FIS for any period before the date on which the claim is made.

(See exceptions under " Late claims")

If a person re-applies within 4 weeks of when their previous claim expired, they are are entitled to be awarded from the date immediately after the expiry date.

Rates Structure

FIS payment is 60% of the difference between the average weekly family income and the income limit for the family size. In deciding on entitlement, any fraction of €1.00 is treated as €1.00. If the applicant qualifies for a weekly FIS payment of less than €20.00 per week, a minimum rate FIS of €20.00 is payable.

Extra Benefits

A person getting FIS may also be entitled to:

  • Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.
  • From June 2007 FIS is assessable on Rent/Mortgage Interest Supplement entitlements but is subject to the additional income disregards applying to those schemes. See separate guidelines on SWA.

Entitlement to a medical card is not affected by receipt of FIS.

Overlapping Provisions

FIS is not payable to a person who is in receipt of:

  • Community Employment Scheme payment
  • Part Time Job Opportunities Scheme payment
  • Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance*/TUS
  • Farm Assist
  • State Pension (Transition)*, or
  • Pre-Retirement Allowance*
  • Rural Social Scheme 

FIS is also not payable to a person for whom an Increase for Qualified Adult (IQA) is in payment on any of the above claims.

Where applications are received from persons, whose spouse/civil partner is claiming an IQA in respect of them, we calculate which is the more financially beneficial payemtn and advise the applicant accordingly.  It will then be their choice to either remain as an IQA or cease and claim FIS.

If a claimant is in receipt of Illness Benefit at the time they apply for FIS, the application will be refused as they are not engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee.

However, once FIS has been granted, the claimant can claim Illness Benefit for up to 6 weeks, and it does not affect their entitlement.. But if a person is absent from work through illness for more than 6 weeks, payment of FIS is suspendeded until they return to work and send a final certificate into the Illness Benefit section or until their FIS award period expires (whichever is the earlier).

Where a child under 18 claims One Parent Family Payment in her own right, she is continued to be treated as a qualified child on the FIS claim until the claim expires.

Continued payment for a qualified child (See separate guideline on Increases) can be paid for 13 weeks after a person takes up employment although continued child payment & FIS cannot be paid concurrently. However, where a person is paid a continued child payment during a period in which they would have been entitled to FIS, and if the rate of FIS would have been higher, the difference between the two rates is paid backdated to the date on which the continued child payment was awarded. Where the rate of continued child payment is less than the rate of FIS, the child payment must expire before FIS is awarded.


PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims

When a family comprises of a person and his or her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, both join in any claim for FIS in respect of that family.

Where FIS is payable in respect of a particular family for any period, no person who was included in that family at the beginning of that period shall be regarded as a member of any other family during that period.

FIS is payable to the member of the family (other than a child) who is in paid employment as an employee, or where there are 2 members so engaged, to the one whose weekly income as calculated for the purposes of FIS, forms the greater part of the total family income assessed.

The applicant and spouse / civil partner / cohabitant should complete FIS application form (FIS1 / FIS2) in full and both sign the declaration and forward it with the relevant documentation. However if obtaining the documentation would delay the claim, it may be sent on after the initial claim is made.

In the case of a couple who are married / cohabiting / civil partners, both partners taking part in a claim are FIS claimants and are equally liable in the event of an overpayment. Equally an overpayment on another social welfare payment incurred by either partner may be recovered from FIS.

Applications are awarded from the 1st Thursday after receipt in the Department.  If an application is received on a Thursday, it will be awarded from that Thursday, provided that an entitlement exists.

FIS is awarded for 52 weeks.  At the end of the 52 week period, the recipient must reapply.  Renewal application forms (FIS2) are issued 8 weeks in advance of the expiry of the claim.

In order for a renewal claim to be awarded from the renewal date, the application form must be returned to the Department within 4 weeks of the renewal date.  Failure to do so will result in the application being treated as a new application and being awarded from the 1st Thursday after receipt.

Late Claims

A person is disqualified for receipt of FIS for any period prior to receipt of the claim in the Department.
(See under Disqualifications above)

However, the claim can be backdated for up to a maximum of 6 months where the person can prove to the satisfaction of the Deciding Officer or Appeals Officer that s/he satisfied the qualifying conditions during that period and that throughout the period there was good cause for the delay in making the claim.

Where a person was claiming JA or JB while employed part-time and it is discovered that s/he would have been entitled to FIS at a higher rate if s/he had made a claim, the claim for JA or JB may be accepted as a claim for FIS and the JA or JB treated as paid on account of FIS.

Documentation

The applicant is responsible for the submission of the necessary certificates, documents, information and evidence required, including P60, current payslip, and (for children aged between 18 & 22 in full-time education) a written statement from the school/college confirming attendance. Where the person applying is separated, all amounts of maintenance received or paid out must be verified e.g. a copy of court order/maintenance agreement should be attached.

An Employer's Declaration is incorporated into the claim form ( FIS 1) which must be completed and signed by the applicant's employer. The Employer should stamp the declaration to certify that the information is accurate.

In some instances more information may be required before a decision on the claim can be made. e.g. for a first time applicant in new employment, projected earnings details may be requested.

Investigation of Claim

A supplement cannot be awarded until all the necessary documentation has been submitted. Where it is clear from the details supplied by the claimant that all of the qualifying conditions are fulfilled, or that one or more are clearly not fulfilled, the file will be referred to a Deciding Officer for decision.

Where there is doubt about the fulfilment of a condition (e.g. where a claimant may be self-employed / non-disclosure of income), the claim may be referred for further investigation to a local Social Welfare Inspector.

This may involve different Inspectors to call to the applicant’s residence as well as their place(s) of employment.

Decisions

Claims are decided by Deciding Officers appointed by the Minister under Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005. A notification of the decision is issued to the claimant, including reasons for disallowance in relevant cases. Award letters give a breakdown of how the average assessable earnings were assessed e.g. P60 / Gross To Date (GTD) as well as well as any other income taken into account e.g. One-Parent Family Payment / farm income / rental income.

Closing Claims

If an applicant fails to furnish all documentation/information/evidence necessary to establish entitlement to FIS, or fails to attend for interview with a Social Welfare Inspector, the claim is closed. Any future claim will only be considered from the date of re-application.

The closure of a claim in these circumstances may not be appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Any person who is dissatisfied with the decision may appeal to a Senior Deciding Officer within FIS Section.

Appeals

A person who is dissatisfied with the decision made on his/her claim may appeal to an Appeals Officer.

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Payment

FIS is paid weekly in advance on a Thursday by direct payment into a bank or building society account. Where a claimant does not have a bank or building society account they should contact FIS Section to discuss alternative arrangements. Payment is made from the Thursday following the effective date of claim, which is normally the date it was received in the Department.

(See also separate guideline on " Payments" with regard to: Time limit on cashing payable orders

Duration of Payment

FIS is paid at the same rate for 52 weeks provided the claimant remains employed as an employee for at least 38 hours per fortnight .

Changes which do not affect the claimant's entitlement to FIS are:

  • increase/decrease in earnings
  • increase / decrease in other social welfare payments
  • qualified child leaves full-time education
  • qualified child commences full-time employment
  • qualified child claims a social welfare payment in their own right
  • qualified child dies.
  • where either claimant leaves the family home

Changes which affect the claimants(s’) entitlement to FIS are:

  • reduction in paid hours below 38 per fortnight
  • ceasing work
  • change to casual employment, seasonal work less than 3 months, Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme, Part-Time Job Opportunities or work on a programme organised by the Council Of Religious Ireland.
  • ceasing employment as an employee and becomes self-employed
  • going on unpaid leave
  • receiving of Illness/Injury Benefit for more than 6 weeks
  • receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance/Benefit/Farm Assist/Pre-Retirement Allowance / State Pension Transition
  • stopping work because of a trade dispute

The only change which entitles a claimant to apply for an increase in rate during the 52 week period is:

  • an additional child, through birth / fostering / adoption
  • if One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) was assessed as part of the Weekly Family Income at the last FIS decision and the OFP has stopped from July 2013 onwards, solely due to their youngest child reaching the relevant age threshold, FIS can be revised upwards by reducing the OFP amount assessed to NIL.  This revised decision can only take effect from the date OFP ceased or 4/7/2013 (whichever is the later).

If the claimant dies the FIS Allowance continues to be payable to the next of kin, for 6 weeks afterwards or for the remainder of the 52 week period of payment whichever is the lesser.
(See separate guideline on Payment Methods)

If an applicant has a negative change in circumstances after a recent application/re-application, they can withdraw that application up to the date that a decision is made, provided that they do so in writing. 

However, once FIS is granted the rate payable cannot be varied except an increase for an additional qualified child, or OFP ceasing on account of the youngest child reaching the relevant age threshold, from 4/7/2013 onwards.

Maintenance

Certification of ongoing entitlement

The onus is on the claimant to notify the Department of any changes in his or her circumstances, and this is explained to FIS claimants on the award letter that they receive when their claim is awarded.

FIS Section is notified of cases where persons in receipt of FIS have claimed Illness Benefit. A letter is issued to these people if they are still in receipt of Illness Benefit 6 weeks after their incapacity has commenced informing them that their payment is being suspended.

It also notifies them their claim can be re-instated if they return to paid employment as an employee for at least 38 hours per fortnight, before the expiry of their claim.

Review

A review may be carried out at any stage after the claim is put into payment

  • if there is a doubt concerning a person's eligibility for FIS or
  • by way of random spot-check.
Suspension of payment

Where a question arises as to whether the conditions for the receipt of FIS are or were fulfilled, and initial enquiries fail to establish entitlement, payment may be suspended in whole or in part until the issue has been decided.

This will be done if there is reason to believe that:

  • the claimant is no longer alive, or is not resident at the given address;
  • the claimant is no longer in full‑time remunerative employment
  • the claimant has ceased paid employment as an employee and becomes self-employed
  • the claimant is taking part in a Community Employment scheme or Rural Social Scheme
  • the claimant has become unemployed
  • the claimant is in receipt of Illness Benefit longer than 6 weeks
  • the claimant has stopped work because of a trade dispute
  • the income of the family was not fully disclosed when making the initial claim or
  • the income has increased and s/he has failed to provide the requested details within a reasonable period of time.
  • the information provided on their application form was incorrect

The notification of award sets out the changes in circumstances which may affect FIS

 

Last modified:11/07/2013
 

 Application Forms