Household Benefits Package


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INTERNAL GUIDELINES USED IN ADMINISTERING SCHEMES COMPRISING THE HOUSEHOLD BENEFITS PACKAGE:


  • ELECTRICITY ALLOWANCE
  • CASH ELECTRICITY ALLOWANCE
  • NATURAL GAS ALLOWANCE
  • CASH GAS ALLOWANCE
  • FREE TELEVISION LICENCE
  • TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE - has been discontinued with effect from the 01/01/14.

INDEX

A. SCHEME INFORMATION

1 DESCRIPTION OF SCHEMES

Electricity Allowance.
Cash Electricity Allowance.
Natural Gas Allowance
Cash Gas Allowance.
Free Television Licence.
Telephone Allowance

2 LEGISLATION

3 ADMINISTRATION

4 QUALIFYING CONDITIONS

Applicants aged 70 or over
Applicants in receipt of full time Carer's Allowance should note that if you were awarded full time Carer’s Allowance on or after 1 April 2012, you must be living with the person that you are getting full time Carer’s Allowance for.
Applicants aged between 66 and 70
Applicants under age 66
List of Qualifying payments and excepted household members for persons aged under 70
Concessions

5 ELECTRICITY/GAS ALLOWANCE DETAILS

a) Electricity Allowance
How it's paid
Change of address / What's not covered
b) CashElectricity Account
How it's paid
c) Natural Gas Allowance
How it's paid/What's covered
Changes of Address
d) Cash Gas Allowance
How it's paid/What's covered
What's not covered

6 FREE TELEVISION LICENCE DETAILS

How to claim
How it's renewed
Free Television Licence (only) entitlement

7 TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE DETAILS - has been discontinued with effect from the 01/01/14.

How it's paid
What is not covered
What if the applicant is not Registered Account holder
Change of address

8 WHEN AND HOW TO APPLY FOR THE FREE SCHEMES

Completing the Application Form(s)
Where to send it to

B. APPLICATION GUIDELINES

 

READING THE INFORMATION BOOKLET AND COMPLETING THE APPLICATION FORM

Applicants in receipt of a Social Security Pension
Applicants 66 70 not in receipt of a qualifying Pension
Widowed/Surviving Civil Partner applicants aged 60 65
Household composition
Medical Certification
Copy of a recent utility bill

C. APPENDICES

APPENDIX (I)

Treatment of applications for backdating of the Household Benefits

APPENDIX (II)

List of countries covered by EC regulations and those countries which Ireland has a bilateral or social security agreement


A. SCHEME INFORMATION

1. DESCRIPTION OF HOUSEHOLD BENEFITS PACKAGE

ELECTRICITY/GAS ALLOWANCE

The Electricity/Gas Allowance has four different options, depending on the applicant's circumstances. An eligible person can only be in receipt of one of the four options at any given time.

a) Electricity Allowance

The Electricity Allowance provides cash credit of €35.00 monthly on the bill.

b) Cash Electricity Allowance

If the applicant has an electricity slot meter or if the registered consumer of electricity at their address is a landlord, they may alternatively qualify for a Cash Electricity Allowance of €35.00. The landlord must provide written confirmation that the applicant is a tenant; paying his/her energy bills and provide the MPRN/GPRN of address tenant is residing at.

c) Natural Gas Allowance

The Natural Gas Allowance is an alternative to the Electricity Allowance for people whose homes are connected to a Natural Gas supply. This cash credit of €35.00 will be automatically applied to your bill.

d) Cash Gas Allowance

The Gas Cash Allowance is awarded provided the applicant satisfies a number of qualifying conditions including proof that they are the registered consumer on the energy bills. In a landlord/tenant situation where the utility bill is in the landlord’s name, the landlord must provide written confirmation that the applicant is a tenant, paying his/her energy bills and provided the MPRN/GPRN of address tenant is residing at. The Cash Gas Allowance is also payable, if the applicant's home is not connected to an electricity or natural gas supply but they otherwise satisfy the conditions of the scheme.
FREE TELEVISION LICENCE

Qualified persons are entitled to a Free Television Licence from the next renewal date of their licence following award of the allowance.

TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE - has been discontinued with effect from the 01/01/14.

The Telephone Allowance provides a payment of €9.50 per month towards telephone and broadband service costs.

The Telephone Allowance may be paid in respect of either a landline or a mobile phone.

2. LEGISLATION

The Electricity/Gas range of schemes are non-statutory, having been introduced and extended by Ministerial Order.

3. ADMINISTRATION

The Schemes are administered by Household Benefits Section, in the Social Welfare Services Office, Sligo.

4. QUALIFYING CONDITIONS

SUMMARY OF QUALIFYING CRITERIA:

Applicants Aged 70 or over or applicants in receipt of a Full Time Carer's Allowance (Applicant’s in receipt of Full Time Carer’s allowance should note that if you were awarded Full Time Carer’s Allowance on or after 1 April 2012, you must be living with the person that you are getting Full Time Carer’s Allowance for) or who are the nominated carer of a person in receipt of a Constant Attendance Allowance or Prescribed Relatives Allowance:

  • Applicant must be legally resident in the State.
    AND
  • No other person in their household can be in receipt of the allowance.
    AND
  • The applicant must be the registered consumer of electricity/gas if s/he is applying for an Electricity Allowance or Natural Gas Allowance. The applicant must be the registered telephone account holder if s/he is applying for a Telephone Allowance

Applicants aged BETWEEN 66 AND 70:

In addition to the conditions that apply to applicants aged 70 or over ( as listed above):

Applicants aged UNDER 66:

In addition to the conditions that apply to applicants aged 70 or over as listed above:

QUALIFYING PAYMENTS FOR PERSONS AGED BETWEEN 66 AND 70:

(from Department of Social Protection)

  • State Pension (Contributory)/(Transition)
  • State Pension (Non-Contributory)
  • Widow's/Widower's/Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory or Non-Contributory Pension
  • One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit / Allowance or Prisoner's Wife's Allowance, or

- an ORDINARY Garda Widow's Pension (from Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform)

- a Social Security Pension/Benefit from a country covered by EC Regulations, or from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement. [See Appendix II for details]

QUALIFYING PAYMENTS FOR PERSONS AGED UNDER 66 YEARS:

(from Department of Social Protection)

  • Invalidity Pension , or
  • Disability Allowance, or
  • Blind Person's Pension, or
  • Incapacity Supplement or Workmen's Compensation, with Disablement Pension, for at least 12 months, or

(from a foreign Social Security Agency)

  • a Social Security Invalidity Pension/Benefit or equivalent payment for at least 12 months, from a country covered by EC Regulations, or from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement. [See Appendix II for details]
  • Disability Living Allowance with Severe Disablement Allowance for at least 12 month [United Kingdom]

Note: Irish Army veterans on an army disablement pension do not qualify for Household Benefits from the Department of Social Protection. Similarly a foreign army disablement pension paid to veterans who are resident in Ireland is not a qualifying payment for the purposes of the Household Benefits Package.

EXCEPTED PEOPLE FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE ELECTRICITY/GAS ALLOWANCE:

An applicant, who is not aged 70 or over or who is not in receipt of a Full Time Carer's Allowance must reside alone or only with the following excepted people:

  • a Qualified Adult*.
    AND/OR
  • dependent child(ren) under age 18 or under age 22 if in full-time education (a certificate from the school / college must be supplied for those aged 18 or over),
    AND/OR
  • a person who is so incapacitated as to require constant care and attention for at least 12 months (medical certification may be required),
    AND/OR
  • a person(s) who would qualify for the allowance in his/her own right (for example, a person getting an Old Age Pension),
    AND/OR
  • a person who is providing constant care and attention**** to any member of the household who is so incapacitated as to require constant care and attention for at least 12 months (medical certification must be supplied as applicable).

* An applicant's spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is regarded as being a "Qualified Adult" if the applicant is receiving an increase for a qualified adult with his/her payment or would have received an increase but for the fact that s/he is in receipt of a Social Welfare payment in his/her own right.

** Child(ren) under age 18 cannot be considered dependent if they are in receipt of a social welfare payment in their own right.

***Incapacited members of the household may be in receipt of a non qualifying payment, provided that the medical conditions are satisfied.

****People in employment for more than 15 hours per week or receiving Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance cannot be accepted as providing constant full time care and attention.

A LIVING ALONE INCREASE is payable to people who are living alone and receiving one of a number of specified payments from this Department (Application forms are available from any Office of the Department of Social Protection, or Post Office).

CONCESSIONS

1. A widow/widower/surviving civil partner aged between 60 and 65 years, whose late spouse/civil partner received an Electricity/Gas allowance and or Telephone Allowance and/or Free T.V. licence from this Department, may qualify for the Household Benefits Package (i.e. all three schemes) if s/he otherwise satisfies the conditions as outlined above, and receives one of the payments below. Where a widow/widower/surviving civil partner is also in receipt of ½ rate Disability Benefit this will not prevent him/her from qualifying for the Household Benefits Package.

Note: where the surviving spouse/surviving civil partner was the person in receipt of the allowance(s) they can retain the Household Benefits package provided that the conditions for receipt of the allowance remains satisfied and they receive one of the payments below.

(from the Department of Social Protection)

  • State Pension (Transition) (payable at age 65),
  • Widow's/Widower's/Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory or Non-Contributory Pension,
  • One-Parent Family Payment (Widows/Widowers),
  • Widow's Pension or Dependent Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension under the Occupational Injuries Benefits Scheme.

(from a foreign Social Security Agency)

  • an equivalent Social Security Pension/Benefit from a country covered by EC Regulations, or from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement.

(from the Department of Justice)

  • an ORDINARY Garda Widow's Pension.

NOTE: Documentary evidence that the applicant's late spouse received the pension claimed may be requested.

2. A person who receives Disability Allowance (DA) or Blind Pension, may retain Electricity/Gas Allowance, if held, on transfer to a Back To Work Allowance (BTWA) for the duration of the BTWA payment. (BTWA schemes typically last for 2 years for most transferees, but may last for 4 years for people in designated Partnership Areas, who take up self-employment).

3.A person who receives Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance or Blind Pension, may retain Electricity/Natural Gas Allowance, if held, on transfer to another primary long term Department of Social Protection payment (excluding Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance, Illness Benefit and Pre-Retirement Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment and Carer's Benefit or as a Qualified Adult on their spouse/civil partner/co-habitant’s payment). A person who transfers from any primary payment (and had an entitlement to Household Benefits) to receive an Increase for Qualified Adult (IQA) on their spouses/civil partner/cohabitant’s DSP payment, will lose their entitlement to Household benefits.

5. ELECTRICITY/GAS ALLOWANCE DETAILS

a) ELECTRICITY ALLOWANCE

How is the Allowance paid?

Electricity Allowance is paid as a €35.00 monthly credit on a customer's electricity bill where possible. If this is not possible, the allowance will be paid on the 1 st Tuesday of each month to the customer's nominated financial institution or Post Office.

What does the Allowance cover?

The Electricity Allowance is an energy allowance of €35.00 monthly.

What if a person receiving Electricity Allowance changes address?

When a person receiving a Electricity Allowance changes address, the allowance ceases to apply to the electricity account for his/her previous address.

To re-qualify for the scheme, a new application must be made (using the standard form HB1). This is because entitlement has to be re-assessed. If, at the new address, the conditions for receiving the allowance continue to be satisfied, the allowance will be re-awarded.

What does the Electricity Allowance not cover?

The allowance does not cover:

  • the cost of installing an electricity supply in the home, and
  • the extra standing charges applied in (e.g. storage heating).

The allowance cannot be awarded where the applicant is not the registered consumer of electricity for his/her home. If this is the case, s/he should arrange with the supplier to become the registered account holder before making application for the allowance.

The allowance cannot be paid at more than one address (This also applies to the other optional Electricity/Gas allowances).

b) CASH ELECTRICITY ALLOWANCE

The Cash Electricity Allowance may be awarded where the applicant is living in a flat or apartment where:

  • s/he has an electricity slot meter
    OR
  • there are a number of separate electricity meters operating from one ESB meter, and the registered consumer of electricity is a landlord
    OR
  • there are no separate meters, but the registered consumer of electricity for the dwelling is a landlord.

The allowance is paid on the 1st Tuesday of each month to an account in a nominated financial institution or at a nominated post office using a public services card. The customer must provide details of their preferred payment method on Part 4 of the application form ( HB1).

Note: If a customer is paid through a post office, using a public services card, the allowance must be collected before the next monthly payment is due.

c) NATURAL GAS ALLOWANCE

How is the Allowance paid?

Natural Gas Allowance is paid as a €35.00 monthly credit on a customer's gas bill where possible. If this is not possible, the allowance will be paid on the 1 st Tuesday of each month to the customer’s nominated financial institution or Post Office.

When an application for Natural Gas Allowance is approved, the effective date of award of the allowance is based on the date of receipt of the application form. The allowance will appear on the second gas bill the applicant receives after that date and will include any arrears due.

What if a recipient of Natural Gas Allowance changes address?

As with Electricity Allowance, following a change of address, the Natural Gas Allowance ceases to apply at the recipient's old address. To re-qualify, where s/he continues to satisfy conditions at the new address, s/he must re-apply using form HB1.

As with the Electricity Allowance, applications received within 6 months may be backdated to the date the allowance ceased at the old address, otherwise the allowance is applied from the application date.

d) CASH GAS ALLOWANCE

How is the Allowance paid?

If the applicant's home is NOT connected to an electricity/natural gas supply, but s/he would otherwise satisfy the conditions of the Electricity/Gas Allowance scheme, s/he may qualify for a Bottled Gas (Refill) Allowance.

The allowance of €35.00  is paid on the 1st Tuesday of each month to an account in a nominated financial institution or at a nominated post office using a public services card. The customer must provide details of their preferred payment method on part 3 of the application form ( HB1).

Note: If a customer is paid through a post office, using a public services card, the allowance must be collected before the next monthly payment is due.

6. FREE TELEVISION LICENCE DETAILS

A person who is awarded the Electricity/Gas Allowances is entitled to a Free Television Licence from the next due renewal date of his/her current Television Licence.

The Electricity/Gas Allowance award letter has a detachable Free Television Licence, which remains valid as long as the applicant continues to receive the Household Benefits Package.

Free Television Licence (Only) Entitlement

The Electricity/Gas Cash Allowance is awarded provided the applicant satisfies a number of qualifying conditions including proof that they are the registered consumer on the energy bills. In a landlord/tenant situation where the utility bill is in the landlord’s name, the landlord must provide written confirmation that the applicant is a tenant paying his/her energy bills and provide the MPRN/GPRN of address tenant is residing at.

However, if the applicant otherwise satisfies the conditions for getting either allowance, they will still qualify for a Free TV Licence (only). Application should be made using form HB1

7. TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE DETAILS - has been discontinued with effect from the 01/01/14.

How is the Allowance paid?

A customer may qualify for a €9.50 monthly Telephone Allowance for a landline phone or a mobile phone.

If a customer chooses a landline phone, the allowance will be paid as a credit on the telephone billwhere possible. If this is not possible, the allowance will be paid on the 1 st Tuesday of each month to the customer’s nominated financial institution or Post Office.

The telephone account must be in the customers own name or a joint account (in their own name). If this is not the case, the customer should contact the service provider to have the name changed.

If the customer opts to receive the €9.50 allowance for a mobile phone, the allowance is paid on the 1st Tuesday of each month to an account in a nominated financial institution or at a post office using a social welfare services card. The customer must provide details of their preferred payment method on Part 4 of the application form ( HB1).

Note: If a customer is paid through a post office, using a social welfare services card, the allowance must be collected before the next monthly payment is due.

What does the Allowance cover?

The Telephone Allowance provides a payment €9.50 monthly towards telephone and broadband services.

What does the Allowance not cover?

The Telephone Allowance does not cover the installation charge for a telephone line or the cost of purchasing a mobile phone.

NOTE: The allowance cannot be paid at more than one address.

What if the applicant is not the registered account holder of a telephone at his/her address, at the time of application for the allowance?

The allowance cannot be applied where an applicant is not the registered telephone account holder for his/her home. If this is the case, s/he should contact their service provider and arrange to become the registered account holder before making application for the allowance.

What if a person receiving Telephone Allowance changes address?

When a person receiving a Telephone Allowance changes address, the allowance ceases to apply to the telephone account for his/her previous address.

If, at the new address, the conditions for receiving the allowance continue to be satisfied, the allowance may be awarded again on re-application by the person (on form HB1).

If a re-application for the allowance is received within 6 months from the date it ceased to apply at the original address, a backdated award may be allowed to the previous termination date, provided the applicant has resided at his/her new address for the full intervening period. If this is not the position, the allowance may only be awarded from the the date s/he took up residence at the new address, OR the date that s/he became the registered telephone account holder at that address, if application for a telephone was delayed.

Initially, a telephone bill may be received at the new address without the allowance shown on it. However, the account will be automatically adjusted before the next or subsequent telephone bill the applicant receives, to include any credit due.

Following a change of address, if a re-application for the allowance is received more than 6 months after the allowance termination date (at the previous address), it may only be awarded from the date of receipt of the application for the Telephone Allowance at the new address).

(See Appendix (I) for full details of when the allowance can be backdated).

8. WHEN AND HOW TO APPLY FOR THE FREE SCHEMES

Applications for the Household Benefits Package should be made on application form HB1 as soon as a person:

  • reaches age 70
    OR
  • is awarded a full time Carer's Allowance ( Applicant’s should note that if you were awarded full time Carer’s Allowance on or after 1 April 2012, you must be living with the person that you are getting full time Carer’s Allowance for)
    OR
  • is awarded a qualifying payment and satisfies that other conditions as outlined

The completed application form and copies of utility bills etc should be returned to:

Household Benefits Section,
Social Welfare Services Office,
College Road,
Sligo.

LoCall Telephone: 1890 50 00 00

B. APPLICATION GUIDELINES

1. Application form and information booklet

Before completing the application form applicants should read the information booklet SW107. The application form HB1 is included with SW107. This is a 4 page form and should be completed for all applications for Household Benefits Package.

If the applicant is receiving a Social Security Pension

Persons whose pension is not paid by the Department of Social Protection must submit documentary evidence in respect of their pension.

If the applicant, aged between 66 and 70 years, is not receiving a Social Security Pension

If application is being made on a means test basis, a separate means assessment form will be issued. This must be completed in full by the applicant and returned along with all required documentation.

If the applicant is married, or living with a partner as husband and wife, details of his/her Spouse/Partner's income and capital must also be given, with supporting documentation as required.

Questions relating to Household Composition

All other questions on the form relating to those who reside in the household, their source of income etc. must be answered. School attendance certificate(s) for any child(ren) aged between 18 and 22 years, in full time education, must be provided.

Medical Certification

Where the applicant is aged under 70 years (and not a Carer), Medical Certification in respect of incapacitated people (other than the spouse) in the household must be provided. The medical details must be completed by the patient's Doctor on a special medical form which can be obtained from the Free Schemes Section. The certificate should be fully completed, signed and stamped by the Doctor.

Include a copy of a recent bill

When returning the completed application form the applicant MUST include a copy of a recent electricity bill, if applying for an electricity allowance, OR a copy of a recent gas bill, if applying for a natural gas allowance.


C. APPENDICES

APPENDIX (I) - PROCEDURES IN RELATION TO BACKDATING ON APPEAL

New Regulations were enacted on 25 May, 2000 on backdating payment of late claims for all schemes except OACP,RP, WCP, OCP, UA, UB and SWA. [The Social Welfare (Consolidated Payments Provision)(Amendment)(No. 8)(Late Claims) Regulations, 2000 (S.I. No. 159 of 2000)].

Provisions for backdating of Household Benefits (Electricity/Gas Allowance, Telephone Allowance and Free Television Licence) applications have been aligned with the new Regulations.

In the case of the Household Benefits, evidence of good cause for a late claim will be required.

An application for Household Benefits may be backdated for a maximum of six months where there is an underlying entitlement. Where such entitlement is evident when a decision is being made on the initial application, the award date should should be adjusted to incorporate the backdate.

In certain circumstances a backdate may be made for a period in excess of six months. The period may be extended where the delay in making the claim is due to ?

  • Incorrect information given by the Department; or
  • the person being so incapacitated that s/he was unable to pursue the claim; or
  • a force majeure.

For more detailed information on how these are defined , please go to claim and late claims guidelines http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Claims-and-Late-Claims.aspx.

NOTE: Extension of the late claims payment period under these Regulations applies only where the person has an underlying entitlement for the period for which the benefit is claimed.

A number of concessions which will apply to backdating claims received from Household Benefits recipients are detailed below.

1. REQUESTS FOR BACKDATES FROM PERSONS WHO WERE NOT IN RECEIPT OF FREES BEFORE TRANSFERRING BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT AWARE OF ENTITLEMENT

Backdate requests in such cases should be treated in accordance with the above provisions.

2. LIVING ALONE INCREASE IN PAYMENT FOR SOME TIME OR RETROSPECTIVELY AWARDED

If a Household Benefit claim has been made within 6 months of the Living Alone Allowance being granted, then the Household Benefit claim should be backdated. However if the Living Alone Allowance claim has been granted more than 6 months ago, the Household Benefit claim should only be granted from a current date.

3. WHERE PENSION IS BACKDATED

In cases where a pension is backdated by the Department the Household Benefits may also be backdated to that date, provided that there was an underlying entitlement to them for that period.

If a client applies for Household Benefits within 6 months of their 70th Birthday, then the Department backdate to their 70th birthday. If a person applies outside 6 months of their 70th Birthday, no backdating will apply.

4. PAYMENT REINSTATED ON APPEAL

Where a client wins an appeal against a decision to terminate/suspend their Department of Social Protection payment, which has also resulted in the termination of their Household Benefits, the Allowances can be backdated in full.

5. FREES TERMINATED ON ENTRY TO NURSING HOME

On entry to a Nursing Home a client loses entitlement to Household Benefits from the end of the billing period in which they entered the Nursing Home. If they return home and re apply for the schemes within six months the schemes can be backdated to the date that the schemes were terminated.

If the client returns home and re applies for the schemes more than six months after they were terminated the schemes may be backdated to the date they returned home OR for up to six months, whichever is the shorter.

6. SHORT HOSPITAL STAYS

A customer may continue to be regarded as residing in their permanent address while they are temporarily undergoing medical treatment in a hospital for a period not longer than 13 consecutive weeks.

7. POSTHUMOUS CLAIMS

A posthumous claim for Household Benefits is not considered.

8. REQUEST FOR BACKDATE OF ONE SCHEME

A request for backdating of one of the Household Benefits will be taken as a request to examine possible entitlement to all schemes e.g. a request for backdating of Electricity/Gas Allowance will be taken as a request to examine possible entitlement to backdating of Telephone Allowance prior to the 1st January 2014 and Free Television Licence. Again, all conditions for each scheme must be satisfied and proof of purchase of TV licence must be furnished.

Last modified:04/07/2014
 

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