Part 1 Legislative Background
Part 2 Payment of Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC)
1. Schemes where IQC is not payable
2. Overlapping Payments
3. Earnings Limit
Part 3 Definition of a Qualified Child
1. Ordinarily resident in the State
2. Not detained in a reformatory or industrial school
3. Satisfy the condition as to Age
4. Institution of education
5. Courses excluded from the definition of full-time education
6. Dependency or unemployment of the child not required
Part 4 Normal Residence
1. Normally resident with his/her parents
2. A qualified child who is resident with one parent only
3. If the parents are separated
4. Substantial contribution by the other parent
5. If one parent is dead
6. Head of the household
7. Child residing in an Institution
Part 5 Rate of Increase for a Qualified Child Payable
1. Full Increase for a Qualified Child
2. Half-Rate Increase for a Qualified Child
Part 6 Case Studies
Part 1 Legislative Background
The main legislative provisions for the payment of Increase for a Qualified Child are:-
- Part I of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended, see especially Section 2(3).
- Part I of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2007, (S.I. 142/2007). See in particular Articles 12 and 13, and Article 83 inserted by SI 426/96, as amended.
Part 2 Payment of increase for a qualified child (IQC)
An increase for a qualified child is payable in respect of each qualified child who normally resides with the claimant.
2.1 Schemes where IQC is not payable
There is no provision for payment of an Increase for a Qualified Child in the following schemes:
- Family Income Supplement (the qualifying income level on which the rate of FIS is calculated varies according to the number of qualified children) ** See guideline for details
- OIB Death Benefit by way of Parent's pension
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
- Guardian's Payment (Non-contributory)
- Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-contributory Pension.
One-Parent Family Payment may be payable where there is a qualified child.
2.2 Overlapping Payments
Where a person is a qualified child but
is also entitled to or in receipt of a DSP benefit or assistance payment in his or her own right,
where an increase for a qualified adult is payable in respect of that person,
the IQC cannot be paid in addition to the other benefit, assistance or allowance.
IQC is not payable where a Guardian's Payment (Contributory) or Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) is in payment in respect of the qualified child.
The following payments are excluded from this rule:
- Bereavement Grant
Note: The BG of €850 will be discontinued. (January 2014)
- Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner’s Grant
- a grant for funeral expenses under the occupational injuries scheme
- Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
Where an IQC is in payment, and the qualified child becomes entitled to a DSP benefit or assistance payment in his or her own right, the IQC continues in payment and the benefit or assistance payment to the qualified child is reduced accordingly.
Please note conditions for JB or JA and most recent RSU advice. RDO Circular 47/11 refers to jobseekers payments and mature students as follows:
In general, a full-time student is disqualified from receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance while attending a course of study, including the period between academic years. Regulations (S.I. 320 of 2011) have now been made which provide for an exemption from this disqualification in the case of mature students.
Under the regulations which came into force on 28 June 2011, the disqualification does not apply to mature students for the period in between academic years. For this purpose, a mature student is a person who is 23 years of age or over on the 1st of January in the year of entry to the course.
This means that mature students, during the period between academic years (generally the summer months) cannot be disqualified from receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance, on the basis of attending a course of study, under sections 68A or section 148 of the Act respectively.
However, where this exemption applies, mature students’ eligibility for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit must be examined with regard to the availability and genuinely work conditions in the same manner as all other jobseekers.
All students can make a claim for a jobseekers payment when they have completed their course of study.
(See also separate guideline on " Overlapping Payments" .)
2.3 Earnings Limit
In the case of Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit, Injury Benefit/Disablement Benefit (Incapacity Supplement), Health and Safety Benefit, Carer’s Benefit, State Pension (Transition), Invalidity Pension and State Pension (Contributory) an IQC is not payable in respect of a qualified child who resides with the claimant and the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant of the claimant where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant has a weekly income of €400.00 (from January 2007) or more.
** [Previously, the income limit was €350.00, effective from January 2005]
The spouse/civil partner/cohabitant’s income is calculated in accordance with the legislation governing the determination of a qualified adult increase.
* See separate guideline on " Increase for a Qualified Adult" .
This condition applies to the following schemes and is effective from January 2008. The date from which the increased limit applies is shown below:
Jobseeker's Benefit (from 27 December 2007)
Illness Benefit, Health and Safety Benefit,
Occupational Injury Benefit/Disablement Benefit (Incapacity Supplement) (from 7 January 2008)
Carer’s Benefit, State Pension (Transition) and Invalidity Pension (from 5 July 2012)
(S.I. No 218 of 2012)
State Pension (Contributory) (from 6 July 2012)
(S.I. No 218 of 2012)
The above condition shall not apply to a person who, immediately before the 19 January 2004 was entitled to or in receipt of a payment which included an increase in respect of the child.
The saver shall continue to be effective for as long as the person continues to be entitled to or in receipt of the increase in respect of the child. It ceases if there is a break of one week or more.
3. Definition of a Qualified Child
Section 2(3) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, (as amended) defines the term "Qualified Child".
A qualified child must:
- Be ordinarily resident in the State
- Not be detained in a reformatory or industrial school
- Satisfy the condition as to Age
3.1 Ordinarily resident in the State
The usual abode of the child must be in the State. The IQC may be paid for a qualified child temporarily absent from the State for a particular reason, e.g. educational activities, if the Deciding Officer is satisfied that the child's normal residence remains in the State and with the claimant.
(But see " Absence from the State" Guidelines for exceptions.)
3.2 Not detained in a reformatory or industrial school
The child must not be held in legal custody.
The IQC may be paid for child detainees who are temporarily released. In such cases the onus is on the claimant to present the relevant release papers from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (or other relevant authority) before the IQC is paid.
3.3 Satisfy the condition as to Age
The upper age limit for a qualified child varies according to scheme as follows:
Scheme of Upper Age Limits for a Qualified Child
Age of child
IQC is payable in respect of qualified children until age 18 on all schemes. (See Note 1)
Over 18 but within three months following completing second-level education or the Leaving Certificate, provided s/he does not qualify for a social welfare payment in his/her own right
(See Note 2.)
Where a child reaches 18 years in the academic year during which they are completing their leaving certificate, the IQC remains in payment for three months following completion of the leaving certificate provided s/he does not qualify for a DSP payment in his/her own right. (See Note 2)
Between 18 and 22 years (PROVISION 1) while the child is in full-time education
(See Notes 3 & 4.)
Deserted Wife's Benefit,
Family Income Supplement,
OIB Death Benefits,
State Pension (Contributory),
State Pension (Non-Contributory) Scheme,
One-Parent Family Payment, (See Note 1)
State Pension (Transition),
Long-term Jobseeker's Allowance,
Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner’s Grant,
Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension.
Between 18 and 22 years (PROVISION 2) while the child is in full-time education
(See Notes 3, 4 & 5.)
Short-term Jobseeker's Allowance,
Health & Safety Benefit
Supplementary Welfare Allowance
Note 1: Certain restrictions apply to One-Parent Family Payments.
From January 2012 onwards, the age limit for the youngest child for OFP entitlement purposes is gradually being reduced to seven years of age.
The reduction in the age limit is being applied to new and existing customers on a phased basis and affects existing customers from July 2013.
Payment of One-Parent Family will cease when the youngest child on an OFP Claim reaches a specified age.
Note 2: A person is disqualified from claiming JA in his/her own right if s/he left school or completed the Leaving Certificate less than 3 months previously. The disqualification is repeated if the student re-sits the Leaving Certificate exam on a subsequent occasion, and IQC can be awarded again for this period.
Note 3: Where a student reaches age 22 during an academic year, the IQC is continued in payment for the duration of that academic year, provided s/he remains in full-time education until then and the customer is in receipt of;
(a) a long-term DSP payment or
(b) a short-term payment for 156 days or has an accumulation of at least 156 days of relevant DSP payments. ( * see list of relevant payments below)
See FIS guideline for child payments in FIS scheme
Note 4: Payment of IQC will continue until the end of the academic year following the child's 22nd birthday where the customer is entitled to or is receiving a short-term payment for a period of not less than 156 days, or a combination of any of the relevant payments* (listed below) for a period of not less than 156 days, where not more than 26 weeks (52 weeks for JA) has elapsed between their current claim and their last relevant payment. All previous periods spent on the relevant payments can be combined, provided that no more than 26 weeks (52 weeks for JA) has elapsed between any 2 successive claims.
Note 5: Where a customer who in receipt of a short-term payment, does not satisfy the 156 days requirement, an IQC is payable in respect of a child who reaches 18 in an academic year up to the 30th June following the child's 18th birthday or until s/he completes the full-time day course, whichever is the earlier.
*The relevant payments for the purposes of satisfying the 156 days requirement for short term schemes are as follows:
- Jobseeker's Benefit
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Pre-Retirement Allowance
- Illness Benefit
- Injury Benefit
- Maternity Benefit
- Adoptive Benefit
- Health & Safety Benefit
- Invalidity Pension
- State Pension (Transition)
- Survivor's Benefit
- Widow, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
- Deserted Wife's Benefit
- Blind Person's Pension
- Carer's Benefit
- Widow, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension
- Carer's Allowance
- Supplementary Welfare Allowance
The Department of Education & Science and The Higher Education Authority have advised that a person is considered to be in full-time education where s/he is attending, a course which awards 60 ECTS credits* per annum within the traditional academic year of September to May. The number of hours per week on the course can vary significantly depending on the course and there are no rules regarding the number of contact hours a student must have. Where the college offering the course designate the course as ful-time, it will mean the course has a full-time work-load.
(*European Credit Transfer and Accumulation (ECTS) is a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students of higher education across the European Union and other collaborating European countries. For successfully completed studies, ECTS credits are awarded. One academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS credits that are equivalent to 1500 – 1800 hours of study in all countries irrespective of standard or qualification type and is used to facilitate transfer and progression throughout the Union ).
Please check with the relevant authorities should query arise regarding specific courses.
Course of study/instruction
A course of study is a full-time day course of study, instruction or training at an institution of education.
A person is regarded as attending a course of study for:
- the duration of the academic year
- the period immediately following the completion of one academic year (apart from the final academic year of a course of study) up to the commencement of the following academic year.
- the 3 month period 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.
3.4 Institution of education
The following are the recognised institutions of education for the purposes of the payment of an IQC.
* (Please see list of courses that are excluded)
- a school/college
- a university
- a college of a university
- an institution providing a course of instruction approved by
a) the Minister for Education and Skills, Science and Technology, or
b) the National Council for Educational Awards or
c) C.E.R.T. Limited
- An institution established under the Regional Technical Colleges Act, 1992
- An institution to which the National Council for Education Awards Act, 1999 applies
- Any institution incorporated under the Dublin Institute of Technology
- Any other Institution to which the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts 1968 to 1992 apply
- An institution providing a Youthreach course
- Any institution designated by the Minister for Education and Skills Science as an institution of higher education.
3.5 Courses excluded from the definition of full-time education
The following courses are excluded from the definition of full-time education for the purposes of awarding the IQC:-
- courses provided by FAS where an allowance is payable (unless it is a Youthreach course)
- courses which form part of a work experience programme
- courses which arise from employment
- courses which comprise in an academic year, a period of paid work experience, where such period of paid work experience is greater than the time spent receiving tuition or instruction at an institution of education
- Teagasc courses which comprise a period of work experience, where more time is spent on that work experience than in receiving tuition or instruction at the institution of education.
An academic year is a period in which a course of study commences in one year and finishes in the next following year. This includes term vacations.
A person may be regarded as attending a course of study for the duration of the academic year or for the period immediately following the completion of one academic year, other than the final year of a course, up to the commencement of the next following academic year.
A person may be regarded as receiving full-time education for the period immediately following the completion by that person of a cycle of education, where such part finishes between the 1 May and 30 June in an academic year, up to and including the third Sunday of the next following October or an earlier date if the beneficiary so elects. However, this does not apply where a person completes the final year of his/her course, except in the case of the leaving of second level or the completion of the Leaving Certificate examination.
- See Note 2 of Paragraph 3.3 above regarding Leaving Certificate/leaving of second level).
3.6 Dependency or unemployment of the child not required
It is not a requirement that a qualified child be financially dependent on the claimant. It is possible for a child to be in remunerative full-time employment or on a Student Summer Job Scheme and still be admitted as a qualified child.
A child in respect of whom child maintenance is being paid by an estranged parent may be still considered a qualified child. However, payment of child maintenance can determine where the child is considered normally resident under the Social Welfare code (see below).
4. Normal Residence
To qualify for payment of IQC, the child in respect of whom the increase is claimed must be deemed to be normally resident with the person who is claiming. Article 13* of S.I. 142/2007 sets out the statutory rules for determining the normal residence of a child.
(* Note - for One-Parent Family Payment, the Normal Residence rules are set out in Article 128 of S.I. 142/2007 and are slightly different. See One-Parent Family Payment guideline for details. For Child Benefit purposes the rules are also different and are set out in Article 159 of S.I. 142/2007. See Child Benefit guideline.) For Guardian's Payment (Contributory)/Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory), Death Grant by way of Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) and Supplementary Welfare Allowance, the rules for determining with whom a child is normally resident are set out in their respective guidelines.
A child shall be deemed to be:
4.1 Normally resident with his/her parents
While the parents remain living together as a couple any children that they have will be considered normally resident with them.
This normally precludes any other person who resides with the child and his/her parents from claiming an IQC for that child.
Parentage is established by reference to the birth certificate of the child.
4.2 A qualified child who is resident with one parent only
Where the parents of a child are living apart, the child is considered normally resident with the parent s/he is living with.
A parent who resides at home with his/her parents may opt to have the child brought up by the child's grandparents as part of their family.
Where the parent with whom the child is living has a new partner, s/he may elect to have the child considered normally resident with that partner.
See however (4.4) below for an exception to this rule.
4.3 If the parents are separated
In separation cases, where the child is not resident with either parent, the child shall be considered normally resident with the parent who has legal custody, provided this parent is substantially maintaining the child.
Where the child is resident part of the time with each parent, the child is considered to be normally resident with the parent with whom the child resides the most.
4.4 Substantial contribution by the other parent
- the parent with whom the child is residing is not in receipt of a Social Welfare payment (other than Child Benefit, Death Benefit by way of Orphan's Pension, Family Income Supplement, Guardian's Payment (Contributory or Non-Contributory), One Parent Family Payment, Respite Care Grant, Continued Payment for Qualified Children or Supplementary Welfare Allowance)
- AND the other parent is contributing substantially towards the maintenance of the child
The child may be deemed to be normally resident with the other parent, and would not be considered normally resident in any other household. " Contributing substantially" in this context is taken to mean at least the current equivalent of the IQC.
If the claimant is making a monetary contribution towards the maintenance of each child of at least the equivalent of the current IQC, it can be accepted that s/he satisfies the "contributing substantially" condition. Where the claimant is not currently making such a contribution but the Deciding Officer is satisfied that s/he would do so if IQC were awarded (e.g. if the claimant had previously been making this level of contribution when last in a position to do so), it may also be accepted that the condition is fulfilled.
In some cases there may be an arrangement in operation whereby, in addition to or instead of direct monetary contribution, the claimant has care of the child(ren) for some period/s during each week e.g. regular visits by them. IQC may be payable in such cases if the cost of expenses incurred by the claimant equates to "substantially contributing" to their maintenance i.e. if the cost is at least the equivalent of the appropriate IQC rate. It will be for the Deciding Officer to consider each such case by reference to all the facts.
Only costs actually incurred by the claimant on behalf of the child(ren) can reasonably be construed as necessary. Their maintenance (e.g. transport, meals, social activities, ensuring accommodation is suitable, cost of overnight accommodation where applicable, etc.) should be taken into consideration in this context.
All such cases should be dealt with sensitively and sympathetically. In cases of doubt, the Decisions Advisory Office should be contacted for advice.
4.5 If one parent is dead
The child is deemed to be normally resident with the surviving parent, but only if that parent is maintaining the child.
4.6 Head of the household
If the child cannot be deemed resident with either parent under the above articles s/he shall be deemed normally resident with the head of the household with whom s/he resides.
4.7 Child residing in an Institution
If the person with whom s/he would be deemed normally resident under the above provisions is contributing towards the costs of the child's maintenance in the institution, then the child will be regarded as resident with that person.
Contributing towards the maintenance costs of the child in the institution is taken to mean that there is a significant level of financial support by the adult in question. Expenses incurred in buying the child clothes etc. on a regular basis, or taking the child on outings or for holiday periods, would be included in the calculation for this purpose.
A qualified child who is a refugee in the State from another country shall be regarded as being normally resident with the head of the household of which the child is for the time being a member and with no other person.
5. Rate of Increase for a Qualified Child Payable:
Increase for a Qualified Child may be payable at full or half-rate as follows:
5.1 Full Increase for a Qualified Child is payable:
where the claimant -
- has no spouse, civil partner or cohabitant,
- is separated, or
- is in receipt of an Increase for a Qualified Adult in respect of the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant.
5.2 Half-Rate Increase for a Qualified Child is Payable:
A half-rate increase for a qualified child is payable where the claimant is living with a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant who is not a Qualified Adult and whose income is not more than the prescribed limit €400.00 (from January 2007) - (previously € 350.00 from January 2005).
Section 4 of the Social Welfare Act 2011 and S.I. No. 218 of 2012 provide that from the beginning of July 2012 and in the case of new claimants
- Carer’s Benefit,
- State Pension Contributory,
- State Pension Transition and
- Invalidity Pension
the half rate qualified child increase is discontinued where the spouse, civil partner or co-habitant of the beneficiary has weekly income in excess of €400.
If a claimant is in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance the limit of €400.00 does not apply.
Note: Prior to April 2000, half rate increase was also payable in the case of Illness Benefit, Jobseeker's Benefit, Injury Benefit, Incapacity Supplement, Jobseeker's Allowance, Pre-Retirement Allowance or Disability Allowance, where the claimant was only in receipt of a Reduced Increase for Qualified Adult because the income of the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant was calculated to be between Stg60 (€76.18) and Stg105 (€133.32) weekly.
6. Case Studies
For further information on IQC and case studies which can be used for reference, please refer to DAO Bulletin Issue No. 14, available at the following link:
DAO Bulletin No. 14