Family Income Supplement


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Internal Guidelines for the processing and support of claims

Part I Entitlement

Description of scheme
Application forms and information leaflet
Legislation
Administration
Main conditions to qualify
Qualifying conditions in detail
What is Weekly Family Income?
How is Weekly Family Income calculated?
How much FIS is payable?
How long is FIS payable?
When and how is it paid?

Part II Claims, investigations and decisions procedures

Signing of the Declaration
Timing of processing
Outstanding Information / Documentation
Decision
Prescribed time for making an application
Debt

Part III Post Decision procedures

Duration of payment
Suspension of payment
Re-instatement of payment
Swap
Changes in circumstances after award
Relationship Breakdown
Back-dating
Review / Appeals


Part I Entitlement

Description of Scheme

FIS, which was introduced in 1984, is a social welfare payment which provides an income support for employees on low earnings with families. 

Application Forms and Information Leaflet

There are 2 application forms.  New applications are made on a form FIS1.  Renewal applications are made on a form FIS2.

The FIS information leaflet is SW22.

Legislation

The main provisions are contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended, primarily Part 6 and the main Regulations are contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control Regulations) 2007 to 2014.

Administration

FIS is administered by: Family Income Supplement Section, Department of Social Protection, Government Offices, Ballinalee Road, Longford.

Main conditions to qualify

  • The applicant(s) must be engaged in full-time remunerative employment as employee(s)
  • The applicant(s) must have at least 1 qualified child, who normally resides with them or is part of a family wholly or mainly supported by them
  • The Weekly Family Income must be less than a set limit for their family size

Qualifying Conditions in detail

The applicant(s) must be engaged in full-time remunerative employment as employee(s)

There are 4 parts to this condition:

  1. This employment must be 'full-time'.

    This is defined as not less than 38 hours every fortnight.  Any combination that reaches 38 hours each fortnight is acceptable.  The applicant could work week on/week off e.g. 38 hours one week and none the next.  Or they could work 19 hours each week or 10 hours one week and 28 hours the following week.  As long as they work 38 hours every fortnight they can satisfy this condition.

    In addition, if the applicant has a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, their hours of employment can be combined to satisfy the 38 hours every fortnight as long as their hours also fulfil the 4 parts of the condition that they are engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee.

    If the hours of employment work out at less than 38 each fortnight, the application will be refused.

    The employment must be expected to last at least 3 months.

  2. The employment must be 'remunerative'.  This means that it must be paid employment.  Any voluntary employment or unpaid work cannot be used to satisfy the condition of being engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee.

    For example if an applicant works 15 hours each week in Dunnes' Stores and works 5 hours a week as a voluntary counsellor, they will not satisfy the conditions to qualify for FIS as they are only engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee for 30 hours each fortnight.

  3. The employment must be 'as an employee'.  FIS is a supplement for low paid employees.  It is not for the self-employed, unless they also have paid employment as employees for at least 38 hours each fortnight, in addition to their self-employment

    There are other social welfare payments available to the self-employed such as the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance of Jobseeker's Allowance for the self-employed.

    Employees are employed under a contract of service.

    Note:
    Applications can succeed from people who are employees of their own limited company.

    The matter would normally be referred to a local Social Welfare Inspector for 2 reasons:

    1. To ensure that they are a genuine employee.  This may require a referral to the Department's Scope Section, if a decision on the insurability of this employment has not already been given.
    2. To determine what other income(s) the applicant and their spouse/civil partner/cohabitant (where applicable) are taking from the company.
  4. Full-time remunerative employment as an employee specifically excludes a number of employment schemes/incentives, such as Community Employment Schemes, Rural Social Economy, Workplace, Tús, JobBridge, Rural Employment Scheme, Gateway and Partial Capacity Benefit.

Note:
Under EU Regulations, the Competent Authority that deals with a Family Benefit is determined by the EU State in which the worker pays their Social Insurance.  Accordingly, claims for FIS are only acceptable from workers who are paying their social insurance to the Irish State.

If an employee, pays their social insurance to another EU State, it is to that State that they should make a claim for Family Benefits.

 

The applicant(s) must have at least 1 qualified child, who normally resides with them or is part of a family wholly or mainly supported by them

A qualified child is one under 18 years of age or a child between the ages of 18 and 22 who is attending full-time day education.

The applicant can claim for a qualified child who normally resides with them.  If a child is in college, they are still considered to normally reside with their parent(s).

If an applicant has a child living with a former spouse / civil partner or cohabitant, they can claim for FIS in respect of that child provided that the FIS applicant is wholly or mainly maintaining the former spouse / civil partner or cohabitant.

'Wholly or mainly maintaining' means that the other adult does not have an income in their own right in excess of €100 per week, is not cohabiting and is not in receipt of a social welfare income support payment in their own right.

When an application is received, it is the norm to check whether Child Benefit is in payment in respect of the children listed on the FIS application.

Child Benefit is a monthly Social Welfare payment for each qualified child normally living with an applicant and being supported by him/her.  It is not means tested and it is normal practice for any parent with a qualified child to claim it.

When we receive an application from a person whose has not applied for Child Benefit we write to them about this recommending that they apply, as the staff who will process that application are the Department's experts in determining whether a child is a qualified child for Social Welfare purposes.

They are informed that it is not a requirement for FIS that they receive Child Benefit.

However, they are informed it would be inefficient use of resources for two offices of the Department to separately investigate whether they have qualified child/ren.

Accordingly, they are notified that the application will not proceed, until the Child Benefit office have determined whether they have qualified child/ren.

But, if for any reason they decide not to proceed with an application for Child Benefit, but still wish to proceed with an application for FIS, they need to provide an explanation for this in writing.

A detailed investigation will then have to take place which will involve a Social Welfare Inspector calling to see them, and may also involve our corresponding with other jurisdictions.

 

The Weekly Family Income must be less than a limit for their family size

There are set income limits for each family size.  Family size is determined by the number of qualified children.  Weekly Family Income must be below these set income limits in order for an applicant to qualify.

The current limits are as follows:

Family Size

Weekly Family Income Limit

Annual Family Income Limit

1 child

€506.00

€26,312.00

2 children

€602.00

€31,304.00

3 children

€703.00

€36,556.00

4 children

€824.00

€42,848.00

5 children

€950.00

€49,400.00

6 children

€1,066.00

€55,432.00

7 children

€1,202.00

€62,504.00

8 children

€1,298.00

€67,496.00

 

What is Weekly Family Income?

Weekly Family Income is the amount of income received in a week by a family.

This includes everything.  All income must be disclosed.

Examples of family income are earnings, social welfare payments, maintenance payments, income from self-employment, rental income, farm income or any contribution to your household from an ex-spouse, ex-civil partner, ex-cohabitant or the parent(s) of any of your children.

Customers are asked to provide all their income sources.

Once this income is determined, certain sums are deducted or disregarded.

The following are deducted from the Weekly Family Income:

Income Tax
Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI)
The Universal Social Charge (USC)
Superannuation / Pension payments deducted from salary
Income of a child

The following incomes are disregarded:

  • Any income received under Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, in respect of a person who is temporarily resident with the applicant, together with any other income received in respect of such temporary resident
  • Any payment or payments made directly or indirectly by or on behalf of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence to a person, which has or have been determined in accordance with the Magdalen Commission Report dated May 2013 on the establishment of an ex gratia scheme and related matters for the benefit of those women who were admitted to and worked in the Magdalen Laundries
  • Any payments from charitable organisations in the form of assistance to persons in need
  • Child Benefit
  • Death Benefit (Orphan's) Pension
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Family Income Supplement
  • Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
  • Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
  • Payments from the HSE in respect of a child who is boarded out.
  • Rent Allowance
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance

 

How is Weekly Family Income calculated?

In order to calculate Weekly Family Income, it is broken down into 3 sources:

  1. Earnings from employment
  2. Income from any form of self-employment
  3. Income from any other source

 

Earnings from employment

Earnings from employment are calculated having regard to the weekly average gross of earnings over a certain period of time.

New applications are usually based on the average weekly gross earnings up to the date of the application i.e. the gross to date (GTD)

Renewal applications are normally based on the average weekly gross earnings in the previous tax year.  A P60 would normally be used to determine that.

However a Deciding Officer may use a different period to determine the weekly family income if they deem it more appropriate.

For example, if an applicant applies for FIS in July having had their hours of employment reduced in May for the foreseeable future, it would be unfair to the applicant to look at their gross wages from January to July.

A Deciding Officer in this case may look at the gross earnings from May to July or perhaps just use the most recent payslip.

Likewise, if the Deciding Officer sees that the applicant earns overtime/bonuses at the same time every year, determining the average weekly gross earnings from 1 payslip when the applicant didn't have overtime/bonuses wouldn't be a true reflection of the applicant's average earnings.

 

Income from any form of self-employment

Income from self-employment is calculated or estimated by dividing the income in the 12 months preceding the date of claim by 52.

Applicants with self-employment are asked to submit their latest set of accounts.  We do not accept Revenue self-assessments.  Revenue self-assessments are done for the purposes of determining tax liabilities.

FIS is not concerned with tax liabilities or income for tax purposes.  We need to know all income from self-employment.

If an applicant is unable or unwilling to provide the latest set of accounts for their form of self-employment, an investigation by a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI) will be required.

Income from any other source

Income from any other source is calculated by the normal weekly amount of such income.

Note: Rental Income is the amount the tenants pay.  The only deductions/disregards from Weekly Family Income are those listed above. 

Social Welfare legislation does not allow for the disregard from Weekly Family Income of expenditure on capital improvements or paying the mortgage(s) on your primary or secondary residences, management fees or expenditure on weekly groceries.

However, unlike other Social Welfare schemes which as Means-Tested, FIS is an income supplement and is an Income-Tested scheme.

Capital assessments are not carried out.

This means that Savings in the Bank / Post Office / Credit Union and the capital value of property/assets owned are not assessed.

 

How much FIS is payable?

FIS payable at 60% of the difference between the set income limit for a given family size and the Weekly Family Income.

Example:

Assessable Earnings from employment

€243.10

Farm Income

€19.23

Rental Income

€115.38

Disablement Pension

€43.80

Weekly Family Income

€421.51

 

 

Income Limit (3 children)

€703.00

 

 

Difference

€281.49

FIS (60%)

€168.89

 

 

FIS payable (Rounded)

€169.00

 

How long is FIS payable?

Once awarded, FIS is payable for a maximum period of 52 weeks.

However, once the 52 week award period has expired, it is open to a customer to re-apply if they feel they still have an entitlement.

If they re-apply within 4 weeks of the expiry of a 52 week award, any new entitlement will be renewed from the day after the expiry.

These claims are called Renewal claims.

Approximately 8 weeks before the expiry of a claim, Renewal application forms are issued to the customer. 

However, whether a customer receives a Renewal form or not, the obligation is on them to submit an application within 4 weeks of the expiry of their claim, in order for the next claim to start from the 1st Thursday following the expiry of the old claim.

Applications received more than 4 weeks after the expiry of a claim are registered as new applications and will be awarded from the 1st Thursday after receipt.

When and how is it paid?

FIS is payable on a Thursday.  Each payment is made in advance. So payment one Thursday pays the applicant up to the following Wednesday.

FIS is paid by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) into Bank and Building Society accounts as well as some Credit Union accounts.

It can also be paid at Post Offices by Electronic Interface Transfer (EIT).


Part II Claims, investigations and decisions procedures

Signing of the Declaration

When FIS applications are received, they are checked to see whether the forms have been signed.

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.

Therefore they both must sign the declaration on the forms and both must declare all their income sources.

FIS applications are generally registered the day that they are received in FIS Section.

Accordingly, it can be determined quickly whether an application has been received or not.

Timing of processing

New applications are normally processed a week after they are received while Renewal applications are generally processed by at least the week before the existing claim expires.

Outstanding Information / Documentation

When a Deciding Officer examines a FIS application, s/he will check whether all questions have been answered and whether supporting documentation has been supplied.

Where information/documentation is absent, the Deciding Officer will normally write to the applicant seeking this.

The applicant is normally given 21 days to reply.  They are warned that failure to reply results in the closure of the claim.

If there is insufficient information in relation to the employment, the Deciding Officer would normally phone, write or email the Employer for further information.

The claim will not be closed due to delays in replying by an employer.

If after reminders the employer has failed to reply, the case will be referred to a local Social Welfare Inspector for investigation.

If at any time the Deciding Officer feels that a Social Welfare Inspector investigation is required to determine the entitlement, it is open to them send the case out.

Decision

Once a Deciding Officer is satisfied that they have sufficient evidence, they will proceed by making a decision and putting a decision sheet on the applicant's file.  They will issue a decision letter to the applicant giving a breakdown of the award and offering the right of appeal.

The Deciding Officer will input the decision on the FIS computer system.  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.

Prescribed Time for making an application

The prescribed time for making an application for Family Income Supplement is within 3 months of entitlement first commencing. 

So that could be within 3 months of:

  • commencement of employment or
  • an increase in hours to 38 per fortnight, or
  • a reduction in hours and consequently earnings or
  • following the birth of a child or
  • a drop in income.

If you 1st apply for FIS within the prescribed time, you are entitled to have FIS awarded to you from the 1st Thursday after the entitlement commenced.

Where a customer fails to make a claim for FIS within the Prescribed Time, they are disqualified from payment in respect of any period before the date on which the claim is made.

Although there is no obligation on the Department to do so, it issues Renewal application forms to customers at least 8 weeks in advance of a claim expiring.  In order for a repeat FIS to be awarded from the Renewal date, the Renewal form must be received within 4 weeks of the claim expiry date.

Renewal forms received later than 4 weeks are awarded from the 1st Thursday after receipt.

 

Debt

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.  If the Deciding Officer notes that either the applicant or their spouse / civil partner or cohabitant has an outstanding overpayment, s/he will notify Longford's Debt Recovery Unit (DRU) of this and hold any arrears.

The DRU will then write to the customer proposing methods of recovery for the overpayment.

 

Part III Post Decision procedures

Duration of payment

Once FIS is awarded, it is payable for 52 weeks, as long as the recipient continues to be engaged in full-time paid employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight.

Suspension of payment

If the recipient's hours of employment drop below 38 per fortnight or if they cease employment, their entitlement stops and they must notify FIS Section immediately.

If the recipient claims Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit or Farm Assist their entitlement stops and they must notify FIS Section immediately.

If a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the FIS recipient claims an increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) on their Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit or Farm Assist payment in respect of the FIS recipient, their FIS entitlement stops and they must notify FIS Section immediately.

If the FIS recipient claims Illness/Injury Benefit, FIS entitlement will stop after the 6th week of the benefit payment. 

If the FIS recipient is on Maternity Benefit, FIS is suspended on the completion of that benefit pending confirmation that the FIS customer has returned to full-time paid employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight.

If correspondence which is issued to the FIS customer is returned by An Post marked "Gone Away", "Not At That Address" etc, payment may be suspended pending receipt of a more up-to-date address.

If a Local Authority / An Garda Síochána notify us that a FIS recipient is no longer resident at the only address that we have recorded for them, payment may be suspended pending receipt of a more up-to-date address.

If an officer of the Department calls to the FIS recipient's address and reports that there was no reply, payment may be suspended pending receipt of a more up-to-date address.

If the customer fails to turn up for repeated appointments at a Social Welfare Local Office / Intreo Office for the purposes of providing them with a Public Services Card, payment may be suspended until they meet the appointment.

If a Social Welfare Inspector reports that a FIS recipient has failed to co-operate with their investigation, payment may be suspended on account of this.

If they are imprisoned, FIS will be suspended.

If they stop work due to a trade dispute, FIS may be suspended.

Re-instatement of payment

In general, FIS can be re-instated once a FIS customer has:

  • returned to full-time paid employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight (written proof of the hours of employment may be required)
  • is not claiming Jobseeker's Allowance / Benefit or Farm Assist
  • is not being claimed as an IQA on Jobseeker's Allowance / Benefit or Farm Assist
  • is not claiming Illness/Injury Benefit Section
  • has provided an up-to-date address where they can be contacted
  • and the 52 week award period hasn't expired.

 

Swap(s)

When FIS is awarded it is payable for a period of 52 weeks.

When a couple who are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting apply for FIS they both join in any claim.

Where each are employed, it is payable to the one whose income is the greater.

If one of the couple ceases to be engaged in full-time paid employment as an employee during the 52 week award period, payment of FIS can be swapped to the other, as long as the other person is  engaged in full-time paid employment as an employee and:

  • is not claiming Jobseeker's Allowance / Benefit or Farm Assist
  • is not being claimed as an IQA on Jobseeker's Allowance / Benefit or Farm Assist
  • is not claiming Illness/Injury Benefit Section
  • and the 52 week award period hasn't expired.

 

Written proof of the employment may be required and if the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is a new spouse, civil partner or cohabitant who did not sign the declaration on the most recent FIS application form, they will be required to complete a declaration.

Changes in circumstances after award.

Once FIS is granted, the rate of payment remains the same for the 52 week period regardless of changes in circumstances.

It is not affected by increases or decreases in Family Income.

There are 2 exceptions to his provided for in legislation:

  1. A FIS recipient can apply for an increase in respect of an additional qualified child
  2. If One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) was assessed in the latest FIS income test, and OFP is terminated during the FIS 52 week award period for the sole reason that the youngest child has reached the OFP Age Threshold, FIS may be increased by reducing the OFP amount assessed in the most recent FIS Income Test to Nil.

There are no other exceptions.

 

Relationship Breakdown

Where family income supplement 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.

This means that if a couple who are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting are awarded FIS for 52 weeks and their relationship breaks down during that 52 week period, one of the couple cannot succeed in a new application for FIS until the existing FIS claim has expired.

This is because their new application would involve a new "family" and the periods would overlap.

When a relationship breakdown occurs, the standard rules regarding "changes in circumstances" apply.

FIS remains in payment to the FIS recipient as long as they continue to be engaged in full-time paid employment as an employee.  However if they cease to be engaged in in full-time paid employment as an employee, the payment can be transferred to the separated spouse / civil partner ex-cohabitant as per the "Swaps" above.

Back-dating

Where a customer fails to make a claim for FIS within the Prescribed Time, they are disqualified from payment in respect of any period before the date on which the claim is made.

However, when a customer can prove to the satisfaction of a Deciding Officer that on a date earlier than the date they actually applied that they were entitled to FIS and that throughout the period from the earlier date to the date that they applied, that there was good cause for the delay in applying, their claim may be back-dated a maximum of 6 months.

Because information on the scheme is available in all of the Department's Social Welfare Local Offices, Intreo Offices, Head Offices, in Citizen Information Centres, on its website, on the Citizens Information Board website and over the years has heavily advertised the scheme, the Department does not accept ignorance of the scheme as good cause for a delay in applying.

 

Reviews / Appeals

If a customer is unhappy with their decision they should write to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) within 21 days of the decision notification date, stating clearly the grounds of their appeal.

The SWAO may then refer the matter to FIS Section for review or to issue a clarification of the decision.

In some cases the SWAO will request a submission from the Deciding Officer outlining his or her contentions in support of their decision.

This will then be decided by an Appeals Officer.

Last modified:09/04/2015
 

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