Farm Assist


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Guidelines used in processing claims

Index

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

PART 2 : ENTITLEMENT

  • Qualifying Conditions in Summary
  • Qualifying Conditions in Detail
    Condition : Aged between 18 and 66 years
    Condition : Engaged in Farming
    Condition : Means
  • Disqualifications
    Disqualifications : General Procedure
  • Duration of Payment
  • Rates Structure
    Personal rates
    Increases for a qualified adult & Increase for a qualified child
    Limitation for couples
    JB Qualification
    Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant Swap & Community Employment/Rural Social Scheme
    Education & Training
    Entitlement where a person or Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant is on an Educational/Training Programme.
  • Secondary Benefits
    National Fuel Scheme
    Smokeless Fuel Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Overlapping Provisions

PART 3 : CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

PART 4 : PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD


PART 1: INTRODUCTION

Description of Scheme

Farm Assist is a Social Assistance means-tested scheme for low-income farmers which was introduced with effect from 07 April, 1999.

Information Leaflet:

Farm Assist - SW 27

Application Form

FARM 1

Legislation

The main legislative provisions are contained in Chapter 3, Part 2 (Social Assistance) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005.

Means are assessed in accordance with the provisions of Part II of the Third Schedule to the Consolidation Act 2005.

Regulations

General provisions with regard to claims and payment are contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Payments Provisions) Regulations 142 of 2007. Provisions with regard to the award of credited contributions are contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Contributions and Insurability) Regulations 1996 to 2005.

Administration

The scheme is administered by staff at the Department's network of Local Offices throughout the country.

All guidelines for staff on the operation of the Farm Assist are issued by the Office of the Regional Director Support Office, Gandon House, Dublin 1. Guidelines for Deciding Officers are prepared by Schemes Section in the Regional Support Office.

PART 2 : ENTITLEMENT

Qualifying Conditions in Summary

There are only three eligibility conditions for receipt of Farm Assist (FA). A person must:

  • be aged between 18 and 66 years, and
  • be engaged in farming, and
  • satisfy a means test.
Qualifying Conditions in Detail

Satisfying the Age Requirement

In order to qualify for FA, a person must be aged between 18 and 66 years. The onus is on the claimant to produce satisfactory verification of his/her date of birth. The original standard version of the Birth Certificate should be requested for this purpose.

The onus is also on the claimant to produce satisfactory evidence of his/her identity, e.g. a passport or driver's licence.

Also, if not already verified on CRS/CB screen, dates of birth should be verified for all adult and child dependents using the Standard Birth Certificate for Social Welfare Services.

Definition of Farmer

"Farmer" means a person engaged in farming

"Farming" means farming farmland in the State, including commonage, which is

  • owned and used by the claimant for the purposes of husbandry, or
  • leased and used by the claimant for the purposes of husbandry.

If the claimant is farming land for the purposes of husbandry but does not own or lease that land, s/he will be considered to be a farmer only if the land does not form part of a larger holding.

"Husbandry" means working of the land with the object of extracting the traditional produce of the land. This includes the cultivation of crops or trees (forestry) and the keeping of livestock and poultry.

Deciding Officers must firstly satisfy themselves that the land in question is FARMLAND. Thereafter, the two key issues are TENURE (the conditions or period of holding land) and USAGE.

Tenure should be verified by reference to relevant source documentation, e.g. Land Registry Office, lease agreement, etc. Ownership may include joint-ownership. Where the land is neither owned nor leased, Farm Assist may be payable only where the land used does not form part of a larger holding. This includes cases where the claimant is farming a holding in respect of which s/he has an intestacy share which has not been officially registered. It also includes situations where two or more siblings with an intestacy share in a farm jointly manage the same holding.

Where two or more persons farm what may originally have been a single unit, but is now claimed to be made up of separate units, Deciding Officers must satisfy themselves that what was the original farm is now managed as two separate entities/businesses, e.g. that the claimant has his/her own Herd Number.

In ALL CASES, the claimant must be working the land for the purposes of extracting the traditional produce of the land.

It is not sufficient for a person simply to own a farm of land. As outlined above, the legislation prescribes that the claimant him/herself must be engaged in farming. Therefore a person who owns a farm of land, but leases, lets or rents out the entire holding does not satisfy this condition and cannot, therefore, qualify for FA. If, however, the claimant is personally engaged in farming part of the holding and leases/lets/rents a portion of the farm to another person, s/he may qualify for a payment.

There is no minimum acreage requirement. Deciding Officers must, however, satisfy themselves that the land would reasonably be considered to be a farm which is used by the claimant for the purposes of husbandry. Thus, where a claimant resides in a dwelling on a large site, e.g. one or two acres, and s/he has a large vegetable garden, it may be reasonable for the Deciding Officer to conclude that, while the claimant may be engaged in husbandry, the land does not constitute a farm of land and the person is not engaged in farming. Conversely, the claimant may be engaged in intensive farming on a small acreage, e.g. pig or mushroom farming, which would satisfy the condition.

Satisfying The Condition With Regard To Means

To qualify for FA, a person must satisfy the conditions as to means. The person's weekly means, calculated in accordance with the legislative provisions, must be below the rate of FAwhich would otherwise be payable to the person. The maximum rate of FA, payable to a person with no means, is known as the Scheduled Rate. FAis not payable where the weekly means are equal to or exceed the Scheduled Rate. Means are deducted from the Scheduled Rate. Means are rounded to the nearest 1.00 (50c being rounded upwards).

As entitlement to FA is based on the claimant's total means, a farmer may have income from a variety of sources, e.g. other self-employment, insurable employment, capital, etc., and still qualify for a payment. Means from all sources are added together to determine total weekly means. The weekly rate of payment is calculated by subtracting the weekly means assessment from the Scheduled Rate of FA payable.

See also MEANS ASSESSMENT Guidelines for details regarding the assessment of means. The main provisions for Farm Assist purposes are set out below.

Farm Income or other self-employment

All self-employment (farm and off-farm), engaged in by the claimant AND his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant, is assessed as the gross yearly income which the farmer and his or herspouse/civil partner/cohabitant may be reasonably expected to receive less all costs necessarily incurred in carrying out the self-employment, subject to the following:

  • From 3rd April 2013 the income disregard for chldren is removed.                     From 1st January 2012 to 2nd April 2013 €127 (was €254.00) per annum of the net income is disregarded for each of the first 2 qualified children and €190.50 (was €381.00) per annum is disregarded for each subsequent child, and
  • From 3rd April 2013 the net income is assesed at 100%.                                 From 1st January 2012 85% (was 70%) of the balance is assessed as means.

Aggregation of income and expenses from self-employment

The total income which may reasonably be expected to be received from all forms of self-employment by the claimant and his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant, less the total expenses necessarily incurred, should be calculated before the Child Dependent disregards and the 85% assessment are applied. (In effect this means that, for Farm Assist purposes, a farmer may offset losses from one business against the profit from another).

REPS and SACS

Payments received under the Rural Environmental Protection scheme (REPS) or Special Area of Conservation (SACS) scheme are assessed separately from other farm income.

This income is assessed on an annual basis as follows:

  • the first 2,540.00 is disregarded, then
  • 50% of the balance is disregarded, then
  • expenses necessarily incurred in complying with REPS/SAC measures are disregarded, and
  • the balance is assessed as means.

It is important that cases are reviewed following the first year of REPS/SACS.

Income from Leasing of Milk Quota

Income received from leasing a Milk Quota is assessable as cash income, i.e. it is assessed on a pound for pound basis. 

Insurable Employment

Where a farmer is also engaged in insurable employment (under a contract of service), the average assessable weekly earnings are calculated using the earnings in a representative period (usually the 13 weeks immediately prior to the date of claim).

From 26th September 2007 a new means assessment applies to assessable income from insurable employment

Assessable earnings are gross earnings less deductions for PRSI, superannuation (including AVC's and PRSA's), the pension levy and union dues. Deductions in respect of income tax, VHI (BUPA etc.) and travel expenses are not allowed.

A family rate less means applies. The family rate is based on a personal rate, a full qualified adult rate and full child dependant allowance rate less means. A disregard of 20.00 a day for each day worked by the customer up to a maximum of 3 days each week applies (max. EUR 60.00 a week). If the customer has a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant in employment a disregard of 20.00 a day also applies to the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant for a maximum of 3 days a week (maximum 60.00 a week) and the balance is assessed at 60%. Means of customer are calculated as follows: assessable income less the relevant disregards and the balance is assessed at 60%. In the case of a couple, both of the couple are assessed in exactly the same manner, assessable income less the relevant disregards and 60% of the balance is assessed as means.

NOTE: The FA payment is based on the person's average assessable weekly earnings, NOT average daily earnings. Thus a farmer who is also insurably employed will receive a set weekly rate of Farm Assist even if s/he works a different number of days each week.

Capital (Investments and Savings)

See Folder: MEANS ASSESSMENT for details.

Capital includes:

  • cash-in-hand,
  • money held on deposit (e.g. in Savings/Current Accounts)
  • the value of investments, stocks and shares (including Co-Op shares),
  • property which is, or is capable of being, invested or otherwise put to profitable use (but not being a farm of land owned/leased by the claimant/spouse/civil partner/cohabitant).
Capital Assessment

All capital belonging to the claimant and/or his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is assessed using the following formula effective from 1 June 2005:

  • The first 20,000 of the capital is disregarded.
  • Next 10,000 is assessed at 1 per 1,000.
  • Next 10,000 is assessed at 2 per 1,000.
  • Excess of 40,000 is assessed at 4.00 per 1,000.

Amounts Less Than 1,000

The new assessment only applies to units of 1,000. Therefore all amounts should be rounded down to the nearest 1,000.

Previous Formulae

From October 2000:

The weekly value of capital was assessed as follows:

  • The first 12,697.38 of the capital is disregarded.
  • Next 12,697.38 was assessed at 1.27 per 1,269.74.
  • Next 12,697.38 was assessed at 2.54 per 1,269.74.
  • Excess of 38,092.14 was assessed at 5.08 per 1,269.14.

Amounts Less Than 1,269.74

The new assessment only applies to units of 1,269.74 . Therefore all amounts should be rounded down to the nearest unit of 1,269.74.

Claims in payment immediately prior to 27 September 2000

Where the application of the new capital assessment on 27 September 2000 would reduce the rate of Farm Assist below the amount payable immediately before 27 September 2000, the rate of payment is not reduced. This provision does not apply where the amount of capital on which the assessment was based at 27 September 2000 is found to have increased.

Pre-27 September 2000:

Prior to 27 September 2000 the following formula was used to calculate the yearly value of capital:

  1. the first 2,539.48 (2,000) was disregarded,
  2. the next 25,394.76 (20,000) was assessed at 7.5%, and
  3. the balance over 27,934.24 (22,000) was assessed at 15%.

Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant in Insurable Employment

The assessment of means for Farm Assist includes the assessment of a spouse/partner's earnings from insurable employment.

Definition of Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant

  1. Married couples – the term 'spouse' refers to each person of a married couple
  2. Civil partners - A 'civil partner' is defined as "each person of a couple who are civil partners within the meaning of section 3 of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010". The term 'civil partner' only applies to a person who has registered their civil partnership.
  3. 'Cohabitants' refer to couples who are living together (both the same or opposite sex). The term 'cohabitant' is defined in the social welfare code in accordance with Section 172 (1) of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act, 2010, which states that "... a cohabitant is one of two adults (whether of the same or the opposite sex) who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who are not related to each other within the prohibited degrees of relationship or married to each other or civil partners of each other".

Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant Insurable Employment

From 26th September 2007 If the customer has a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant in insurable employment a disregard of 20.00 a day also applies to the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant for a maximum of 3 days a week (maximum 60.00 a week) and the balance is assessed at 60%. The assessable earnings of spouse/civil partner/cohabitant are the gross earnings less PRSI, The Pension Levy Superannuation and Trade Union Subscriptions (deductions in respect of income tax and Health Insurance premiums e.g. VHI, BUPA, Hospital Saturday Fund etc are not disregarded).

Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant Working from Home or in receipt of IB

The 20.00 a day applies (maximum 60.00) to working spouse/civil partner/cohabitant where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant has insurable earnings even if s/he was working from home, or where s/he is in receipt of insurable earnings while claiming IB.

Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant Working Abroad

Where a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant was working abroad (outside the island of Ireland) the 20.00 a day applies (maximum 60.00).

Payment of Increase for Qualified Adult (IQA) and a Qualified Child(ren) Allowance (IQC)

A full increase for a qualified adult is payable except where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of a Social Welfare payment/HSE payment or is in receipt of a training allowance in respect of a full time FÁS/VTOS course.

From 26th September 2007 a family rate less means applies. The family rate is based on a personal rate, a full qualified adult rate and full child dependant allowance rate less means. A disregard of 20.00 a day for each day worked by the customer up to a maximum of 3 days each week applies (max. 60.00 a week). Means of a customer are calculated as follows: assessable income less the relevant disregards and the balance is assessed at 60%. In the case of a couple, each person is assessed in exactly the same manner, assessable income less the relevant disregards and 60% of the balance is assessed as means.

Payment of Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC)

From 26th September 2007 a full increase for a qualified child is payable except where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of a Social Welfare payment/HSE payment or is in receipt of a training allowance in respect of a full time FÁS/VTOS course. If the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of a Social Welfare Payment/HSE payment or is in receipt of a training allowance in respect of a full time FÁS/HSE course then half IQC is payable.

(SEE SEPARATE GUIDELINE ON INCREASES FOR FURTHER DETAILS)

DEDUCTING HALF/FULL MEANS ASSESSMENT

From the 26th September 2007 means are applied in full unless the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is on a Social Welfare payment, HSE payment or on a full time FÁS course/VTOS and getting a training allowance.

Benefit & Privilege

Benefit and privilege from parents' income, is NOT assessable for Farm Assist purposes.

Seasonal Employment

Where the claimant and/or spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is engaged in insurable employment on a seasonal basis, the earnings are assessed only during the actual period of employment.

Non-assessable Income

The claimant or spouse/civil partner/cohabitant income from the following is not assessable for FA purposes:

  1. Social Welfare payments,
  2. income from a bonus under a scheme administered by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands for the making of special grants to parents/guardians resident in the Gaeltacht/Breac-Gaeltacht of children attending primary schools,
  3. in the case of a qualified applicant under a scheme administered by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands and known as Sceim na bhFoghlaimeoiri Gaeilge, any income received under that scheme in respect of a person who is temporarily resident with the qualified applicant, together with any other income received in respect of such temporary resident,
  4. an amount of an allowance, dependant's allowance, disability/wound pension under the Army Pensions Acts, 1923 to 1980 (or combination of such) not exceeding 101.58 per year,
  5. any moneys received from a charitable organisation,
  6. training allowances while undergoing a course of rehabilitation training provided by an organisation approved by the Minister for Health and Children,
  7. an amount not exceeding 134.00 per year received in respect of work as an outworker under a charitable scheme,
  8. where the farmer or his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is engaged on a seasonal basis in the occupation of fishing, one-half of so much of the income from such as does not exceed 153.00 per year and one-third of so much of the income as exceeds 153.00 per year but does not exceed 381.00 per year,
  9. payments by a health service executive in respect of a child who is boarded out,
  10. in such cases as may be prescribed, any monies received by way of a maintenance grant under a scheme administered by the Minister for Education and Science under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992,
  11. any monies received by way of a mobility allowance payable under Section 61 of the Health Act, 1970,
  12. 1,270.00 per year from the harvesting of seaweed,
  13. payments by a health service executive in respect of the provision of accommodation for a child under Section 5 of the Child Care Act, 1991
  14. Compensation awards by the Compensation Tribunal established by the Minister for Health on 15.12.1995, the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal 1997, the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal 2002 or compensation awards by a court of competent jurisdiction to persons who have contracted Hepatitis C or HIV from contaminated blood products, together with subsequent income from the investment of that money.
  15. Compensation awards by way of the Residential Institutions Redress Board established under section 3 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 (No. 13 of 2002), together with the subsequent income from investment of that money.
  16. Compensation awards to persons who have a disability caused by Thalidomide together with subsequent income from the investment of that money.

Employment as Home Help

Note: From 1st January 2012 claimant's income from employment as a home help is assessed for Farm Assist purposes, the value to the claimant of his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant income from employment as a home help is also assessed in the same manner as all other income from insurable employment.

Other Income

Income from any source not specifically mentioned above is assessed on a euro for euro basis, e.g. income from an occupational pension, income from the letting/leasing of land.

Disqualifications

The legislation prescribes that a person shall be disqualified from receipt of Farm Assist in respect of any period where s/he is on

  • Back to Work Allowance (BTWA), or
  • Part-Time Job Incentive (PTJI), or
  • Area Enterprise Allowance (AEA), or
  • Community Employment (CE), or
  • Rural Social Scheme (RSS), or
  • attending a full-time course of study, other than in such circumstances and subject to such conditions and for such periods as may be prescribed.

A person shall be regarded as attending a course of study -

  1. for the period of 3 months immediately following the completion or leaving by that person of second level education or the completion of the Leaving Certificate examination, (whichever is the later),
  2. for the duration of the academic year, or
  3. for the period immediately following the completion of one academic year, other than the final academic year of a course of study, up to the commencement of the following academic year.

This disqualification also applies to mature students.

A claimant may not, therefore, receive Farm Assist AND BTWA, PTJI, AEA, or CE or RSS, in respect of the same period.

Duration of Payment

FA is payable for as long as the qualifying conditions are satisfied.

Rates Structure

The Scheduled Rate of payment consists of a personal rate (payable in respect of the claimant), with increases payable in respect of a qualified adult and a qualified child, as appropriate. The weekly rate of payment due is the scheduled rate less the means assessed.

Maximum Payment & Limitation Of Rate Payable

Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant in receipt of a Social Assistance payment:

where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant of a Farm Assist claimant is entitled to one of the following;

  • Farm Assist, or
  • Jobseeker's Allowance , or
  • Pre-Retirement Allowance, or

the total amount payable shall not exceed the amount which would be payable if only one of the couple was entitled to be paid (including increases where appropriate), and each shall be paid half of the amount which would be payable if only one of the couple were in receipt of the assistance or allowance

Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant in Receipt of Benefit/Pension

where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant of a Farm Assist claimant is entitled to one of the following:

  • Jobseeker's Benefit, or
  • Illness Benefit, or
  • Occupational Injury Benefit, or
  • Disablement Pension, or
  • State Pension (contributory), or
  • State Pension (non-contributory), or
  • State Pension (transition), or
  • Invalidity Pension,

the total amount payable to one of the couple ("the relevant amount") shall not exceed the amount of benefit/pension (including increases where appropriate) or the amount of Farm Assist (including increases were appropriate), whichever is the greater, that would be payable if only one of the couple was in receipt of benefit, pension or Farm Assist. If "the relevant amount" would otherwise exceed "the greater amount", the Farm Assist payment should be reduced by the amount of the excess.

Limitation 'Saver' Clause

In the case of a farmer who immediately prior to the payment of FA was in receipt of JA or PRETA on/before 7th April 1999, the total amount payable and limitation of payment shall be calculated in accordance with the pre-07/04/1999 provisions (See JA/Jobseeker's Allowance Guideline - relevant section under heading Rates Structure).

JB Qualification

A person may not receive JB and Farm Assist in respect of the same period. If a client has an underlying entitlement to both, s/he may choose which s/he wishes to pursue. To facilitate an informed decision, the Local Officer should advise the claimant of the relative merits of each scheme, with particular regard to:

  • the comparative weekly rates of payment (i.e. full/graduated rate of JB in respect of days of unemployment viz Farm Assist less means),
  • entitlement to secondary benefits on Farm Assist
  • entitlement to payment of IQC in respect of school-going child/ren over 18 on Farm Assist,
  • unemployment, availability, genuinely seeking work, substantial loss of employment , etc. conditions for receipt of JB and requirement to sign-on.
  • taxable status : JB is taxable, Farm Assist is not.

NOTE: A person may choose to alternate between Farm Assist and JB.

SPOUSE/CIVIL PARTNER/COHABITANT SWAP & COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT/RURAL SOCIAL SCHEME

The Qualified Adult of an eligible Farm Assist claimant may participate on a Community Employment scheme/Rural Social Scheme in place of the claimant (where entitlement exists).

It is not necessary for the Qualified Adult to sign the Live Register in order to become eligible. When the Qualified Adult commences the scheme, s/he must claim for the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant as a Qualified Adult. The Farm Assist claimant ceases to claim Farm Assist, and may sign for credits instead, where appropriate.

Where the Farm Assist claimant had an entitlement to secondary benefits prior to the scheme, these should continue to be paid to the scheme participant while on Community Employment/Rural Social Scheme.

Education and Training

Periods spent on Farm Assist count towards qualification for:

  • FÁS Training Courses, and
  • Community Employment (CE), and
  • Back to Work Allowance (BTWA), and
  • Rural Social Scheme (RSS), and
  • Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) excluding VTOS courses.

NOTE: Any number of Farm Assist claims may be combined to satisfy the duration of receipt of relevant social welfare payment condition for BTEA qualification (i.e. 156 days), provided that each FA claim is within 52 weeks of a previous claim.

A person in receipt of Farm Assist may qualify for a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) without first switching back to a jobseeker's payment.

Entitlement where a person or spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is on an Educational/Training Programme

(a) CLAIMANT on Course of Education/Training and Development (Part-time or Full-time)

All educational/training allowances received by a Farm Assist claimant are assessed in full and deducted from the weekly Farm Assist payment. However, payments received for expenses necessarily incurred, e.g. travel and meal expenses, are disregarded for means purposes.

(b) SPOUSE/CIVIL PARTNER/COHABITANT

(i) Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant on Full-Time FÁS/VEC Course

Where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant of a Farm Assist claimant is in receipt of an allowance in respect of a full-time FÁS or VTOS course, s/he is not considered to be a qualified adult dependant. The Training Authority/ VEC is responsible for paying the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant a personal rate plus rate Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC), if applicable, for the duration of the course.

All training allowances received by the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant are disregarded in the assessment of means.

(ii) Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant on Part-Time FÁS/VEC Course

Where a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is on a part-time FÁS/VEC course, the full increase for a qualified adult (IQA) is payable

All training allowances received by the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant are disregarded in the assessment of means.

(iii) Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant on other Training/Educational Courses

Where a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is participating in a full-time or part-time course which is not administered by FÁS or the VEC, the full increase for a qualified adult (IQA) is payable

All training allowances received by the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant are disregarded in the assessment of means.

(iv) Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant on Senior Traveller Training Programme

The Senior Traveller Training Programme was administered by FÁS up to 1998, and by the VECs since then. Where a claimant's spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is participating in this course, the full increase for a qualified adult (IQA) is payable

All training allowances received by the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant are disregarded in the assessment of means.

NOTE 1: - A Qualified Adult Increase (IQA) is not payable where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of a Social Welfare payment in his/her own right, e.g. Back to Education Allowance.

NOTE 2: - Payments received by a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant in respect of expenses necessarily incurred in attending a course of education or training, e.g. travel and meal expenses, are disregarded when calculating total gross weekly income.

Secondary Benefits

As Farm Assist is a long-term scheme, Secondary Benefits are payable from the start of the claim.

Claimants may also have entitlement to a Fuel Allowance payment (application form FA1 should be used to determine entitlement).

Carer's Allowance

From 27 September 2007 a person who is claiming a Social Welfare Payment (other than Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit) or is being claimed for as a Qualified Adult 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 they satisfy the conditions for Carer's Allowance it will be awarded at 50% of the personal rate they would qualify for if they were not in receipt of any other payment. They will also be eligible for a Free Travel Pass and may qualify for Household Benefits.

* A Person may not receive Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance, Back to Work Allowance or Family Income Supplement and half rate Carer's Allowance but they may be a qualified adult on these payments and receive half rate Carer's Allowance.

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

Overlapping Provisions

Farm Assist is not payable to a person who is in receipt of any other Social Welfare payment except Child Benefit or certain payments under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. An increase in respect of a qualified adult ( IQA) is not payable if the qualified adult is in receipt of any Social Welfare payment except Disablement Pension, Orphans Pension or certain payments under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.

Farm Assist Customer who reaches 66 years

Under section 159 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 where a person is receiving Farm Assist immediately before becoming entitled to the State Pension Non Contributory, he/she is entitled to receive either the rate of non-contributory pension as calculated or the rate of Farm assist he/she had been receiving before entitlement to State Pension Non Contributory- whichever is the higher.

PART 3: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims

A claim for Farm Assist should be made on the form FARM1.

The form may be completed at a Social Welfare Local Office, or by post.

If a claimant does not have a Personal Public Service Number, one will be allocated when the claim is received in the Department.

Documentation

The claimant is obliged to produce such certificates, documents, information and evidence as may be required in support of the claim, e.g. Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate (if applicable), verification of means (P60, current payslip, etc.).

The relevant documentation may be furnished after the claim has been made if it is not immediately available.

A Deciding Officer may not be in a position to decide on entitlement until all requested documentation has been received in the Department.

Late Claims

A person is not entitled to payment of Farm Assist in respect of any period prior to the date on which the claim is made. However, a claim may be backdated for up to 6 months where "good cause" is shown for the delay in making the claim, provided the claimant can prove to the satisfaction of the Deciding Officer or Appeals Officer that s/he satisfied the qualifying conditions for receipt of payment during that period.

See also separate guideline on " Claims and Late Claims" for more information on late claims and other circumstances in which backdated payment of the allowance or increases for dependent children may be made.

Investigation of Claims

The claim should be referred to a Social Welfare Investigator for completion of FARM2 and IN 93, and the completed forms then passed to a Deciding Officer for decision.

Decisions

Claims are decided by Deciding Officers appointed by the Minister under Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005.

A written notification of the decision, FARM 5 or FARM 6 as appropriate should be issued to the claimant.

Appeals

A person who is dissatisfied with the Deciding Officer's decision e.g. refused award of allowance or awarded a reduced rate allowance, may appeal the decision. The appeal should be made by writing to the Chief Appeals Officer, Social Welfare Appeals Office, D'Olier House, Dublin 2, within 21 days of notification of the Deciding Officer's decision, stating the grounds of appeal. The Appeals Officer can decide the matter summarily or may deal with the case by way of an oral hearing.

PART 4: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Method of Payment

A claimant has an option of two payment methods

  1. directly into a Bank or Building Society account (not a mortgage account)
    or
  2. post draft at a Post Office of the claimant's choice.
Annual Review

A Declaration Form, FARM12, will issue to the claimant on an annual basis requiring her/him to declare that s/he has an ongoing entitlement to Farm Assist. S/he will be required to declare any change in his/her family circumstances, inclusive of means, which may effect his/her entitlement to Farm Assist.

Change in Personal Details Including Income

Any change in the personal details of the claimant including any change of income should be notified to the claimant's Local Office of the Department. Such changes may affect the claimant's entitlement(s).

Change in Dependency Details

A claimant is required to inform his/her Local Office of the Department of any change in his adult or child dependency details. In the case of an adult dependent, any change in Spouse/Partner's status. In the case of child dependents, any change in the figure of qualified children should be notified as the relevant child disregards must be applied and weekly means reviewed accordingly.

Credits

Credited contributions are only awarded to customers who were in receipt of a credit as Smallholder on Jobseeker's Allowance prior to the introduction of Farm Assist in April 1999. See section on "CREDITED SOCIAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS Guidelines"

Farm Assist was introduced from 7th April 1999. From 1st January 2007, under the terms of Section 12 of the Social Welfare Act 2006, Farm Assist customers are required to pay a Class S PRSI contribution if their income is above the relevant threshold.

If a person's income is below the threshold where they have no liability to pay Class S contribution, then that person may apply to become a voluntary contributor. See: 'www.welfare.ie/EN/Publications/SW8/Pages/1Whatarevoluntarycontributions'

Linking

A period spent on Farm Assist is not disregarded for linking purposes. For example, if a person transfers from Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) to Farm Assist for more than 13 weeks, any subsequent JB claim will not link with the previous JB claim but will constitute the start of a new Period of Interruption of Employment (PIE). Similarly, if a person transfers from Jobseekers Allowance (JA) to Farm Assist for more than 52 weeks, any subsequent JA claim will not link with the previous JA claim but will constitute a new Continuous Period of Unemployment.

Last modified:31/01/2012
 

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