Means Assessment


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This document contains details of how means are assessed for all means tested schemes except Supplementary Welfare Allowance (see separate guidelines "SWA - Means Assessment"). These rules are applied in different ways to the various schemes. Details of how they apply will be given under the various headings in the document.

The rules as to calculation of these means are set out in

  • Parts I and II and III of the Third Schedule of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005;
  • Chapter 6 of Part 3 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2007 (SI 142 of 2007) as amended;
  • Article 7 of SI 208 of 1991 (Rent Allowance) as amended.

Information Leaflets - SW 4: 'Guide to Social Welfare Services'

NB. Where a person is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, the means of the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant are taken into account as well as the claimant's own means.

List of Sections in this guideline

The assessment of the various items of means is set out in sections as follows:

SECTION 1 - PROPERTY

SECTION 2 - CASH INCOME

SECTION 3 - MEANS OF A COUPLE (Married, Civil Partners or Co-Habiting)

SECTION 4 - 'OTHER PENSIONS'

The following pages detail the methods of assessing the above elements. In each Section the common provisions are stated first, followed by the specified differences between schemes.

See also separate guidelines regarding:

Farm Means Assessment of Income from Farming (for all Schemes)

" JA - Means from Insurable employment" and

" JA - Benefit and Privilege" (which applies to Jobseeker's and Pre-Retirement Allowance only).

" Jobseeker's Allowance/Pre-Retirement Allowance Assessment Spouse/Civil Partner/ Cohabitant's Earnings" (which applies to Jobseeker's and Pre- Retirement Allowance only)


Index

SECTION 1. PROPERTY

CAPITAL AND PROPERTY NOT PERSONALLY USED AND ENJOYED
Formulae

CAPITAL
Assessing joint accounts
Assessment of house property
Assessment of Land Let

PROPERTY PERSONALLY USED AND ENJOYED
(a) Means From Farming
(b) Letting of farms
(c) Apportioning farm income in intestacy cases
(d) Farms Kept Below Potential Income
(e) Property partly occupied by the claimant

PROPERTY VACATED BECAUSE OF OLD AGE OR ILLNESS.

PROPERTY OFFERED FOR SALE

Exemption of the Sale of Proceeds of a person's private residence from the means test

To whom does the exemption apply?
In what circumstances does the exemption apply?
How does the exemption work?
Investment income from sale proceeds

PROPERTY TRANSFERRED
When Are Transfers Accepted
(i) Farm or Business
(ii) Capital

SECTION 2 - CASH INCOME

All Schemes

Additional items that do not count as means for Jobseeker's Allowance, PRETA, Disability Allowance and Farm Assist
Additional items that do not count as means for Jobseeker's Allowance, PRETA
Additional items that do not count as means for Farm Assist
Additional items that do not count as means for State Pension (Non-Contributory)
Additional items that do not count as means for One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) , Carer's Allowance, Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension and Blind Pension
Additional items that do not count as means for One-Parent Family Payment
Additional items that do not count as means for Carer's Allowance
Additional items that do not count as means for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension
Additional items that do not count as means for Blind Pension

DEDUCTIONS FROM EARNINGS

Insurable Employment - Claimant
Insurable Employment - Spouse, Civil Partner, Cohabitant
Self Employment - Claimant
Self Employment - Spouse, Civil Partner, Cohabitant

ASSESSMENT OF MAINTENANCE

MORTGAGE/RENT

Cohabitation - maintenance paid to person's cohabitant
One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
Deeds of Covenant
Deprivation of income
Reduced rate of Army pensions

SECTION 3 - ASSESSING THE MEANS OF A COUPLE

Married couple, civil partners temporarily living apart
Separation Order.
Means Following the Death of One of a Couple
Testacy and Intestacy Cases
General
Rules of Intestacy
Assessment of Means In Intestacy Cases
Testacy
Assessment Of Means In Testacy Cases
Appropriation Of Dwelling House

SECTION 4 - ASSESSING 'OTHER PENSIONS'

What is meant by 'other pension'?
Assessment in the case of couples


SECTION 1. PROPERTY

This Section is sub-divided as follows:

CAPITAL AND PROPERTY NOT PERSONALLY USED AND ENJOYED.

PROPERTY PERSONALLY USED AND ENJOYED

PROPERTY VACATED BECAUSE OF OLD AGE OR ILLNESS

PROPERTY OFFERED FOR SALE

PROCEEDS FROM SALE OF RESIDENCE (OVER 66 YEARS)

PROPERTY TRANSFERRED

Capital and Property not Personally Used and Enjoyed

Capital (savings and investments) and the value of property owned but not personally used or enjoyed are assessed as means.

Where capital or property is assessed on this basis, any income received from its use (e.g. interest on savings, dividends from shares, rent from property let) is not assessed as cash income.

Calculation of weekly value of Capital/Property:

The following formula comes into operation at the date specified for each scheme:

The following formula comes into operation at the date specified for each scheme:
DATE SCHEME
From 7 April 2005 Carer's Allowance
From 1 June 2005 Jobseeker's Allowance
Pre-Retirement Allowance
Farm Assist
From 2 June 2005 State Pension (Non-Contributory)
Blind Pension
Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension (Previously Widow's or Widower's (NC) Pension)
One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
Deserted Wife's Allowance
Prisoner's Wife's Allowance

 

Formula for Calculating Weekly Means

Formula

Weekly Means

First €20,000

Nil

Next €10,000

€1 per €1,000

Next €10,000

€2 per €1,000

Excess of €40,000

€4 per €1,000

Previous Formulae

From October 2000 the weekly value of capital was assessed as follows:
Capital Weekly Means (€) Weekly Means (IR£)
First €12,697.38 (£10,000) Nil Nil
Next €12,697.38 (£10,000) €1.27 per €1,269.74 £1 per £1,000
Next €12,697.38 (£10,000) €2.54 per €1,269.74 £2 per £1,000
Excess €38,092.14 (£30,000) €5.08 per €1,269.74 £4 per £1,000
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.

Formula used to assess capital for Disability Allowance from 6 June 2007

Formula

Weekly Means

First €50,000

Nil

Next €10,000

€1 per €1,000

Next €10,000

€2 per €1,000

Excess of €70,000

€4 per €1,000

 

Formula used to assess capital for Disability Allowance from 1 June 2005 to 5 June 2007 Formula:

Formula

Weekly Means

€20,000

Nil

€20,001 to €30,000

€1 per €1,000

€30,001 to €40,000

€2 per €1,000

Over €40,000

€4 per €1,000

 

Formula used to assess capital for Disability Allowance from 11 October 2000 to 31 May 2005

Formula

Weekly Means

€12,697.38

Nil

€12,697.38 to €25,394.76

€1.27 per €1,269.74

€25,394.76 to €38,092.14

€2.54 per €1,269.74

Over €38,092.14

€5.08 per €1,269.74

Saver clause

A saver clause applies to the effect that where a person was in receipt of a pension or assistance payment at the date of change, and the previous assessment was more favourable to the person, his or her entitlement will not be reduced because of the change of formula. The saver clause ceases to apply when the capital increases.

Prior to October 2000:

The following formulae were used to calculate the yearly value. The yearly value was divided by 52 to give the weekly value.

Formula for following Schemes:
Blind pension,
Carer's Allowance,
Disability Allowance,
Farm Assist
State Pension (Non-Contributory),
One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and
Guardian's Payment(Non-Contributory),
Pre-Retirement Allowance,
Rent Allowance
Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension,

  • First (£20,000) €2,539.48 was not counted.
  • Next (£20,000) €2,534.76 was assessed at 7.5%.
  • Remainder in excess of (£22,000) €2,534.76 was assessed at 15%.

Note 1: In assessing the means of one of a married couple, civil partners or cohabiting couple where the total means assessment figure was halved at the end of the calculation, the above amounts would be doubled (i.e. €5078.95, €50,789.52 and over €55,868.48 respectively). (This did not apply to Disability Allowance, Farm Assist or Pre-Retirement Allowance.)

Earlier Saver Clauses

Saver clauses protected entitlements already in payment or pending decision at the time that the legislation was amended, so that a person with a higher entitlement under the previous formula would remain on that method of calculation.

This applied to:

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) recipients who were in receipt of the transitional payment of half of the rate of the payment where the recipient's earnings exceeded €425 per week prior to 5 January 2012.

Widow's (Non-Contributory) Pensions, Guardian's (Non-Contributory) in payment at 17/10/97, and

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) recipients who were in receipt of Lone Parent's Allowance prior to 2/1/97.

Previous method for saver clause in above schemes:

  • First (£200) €253.95 was not assessed.
  • (£100) €126.97 for each qualified child was not assessed.
  • Remainder was assessed at 5%.

If the assessment exceeded (£52) €66.03 per annum, a further (£52) €66.03 per annum was added to the assessment.

Previous formula for State Pension, Carer's Allowance or Blind Person's Pension before 17/10/97:

  • First (£200) €253.95 was not assessed.
  • Next (£375) €476.15 was assessed at 5%
  • Remainder at 10%

Formula for Jobseeker's Allowance prior to October 2000:

  • First (£400) €507.90 was assessed at 5%
  • Remainder at 10%

CAPITAL

This may include:

(a) Savings that have not been invested but are held in cash. A reasonable amount held for current needs can be ignored, but significant savings are assessable as means.

(b) Stocks and shares of every description, which are assessed according to their current market value.

(c) Savings certificates/bonds/national instalment savings, which are assessed according to their current market value.

(d) Money invested in a bank, building society etc., or money on loan.

  1. Where a person has an overdraft (e.g. on a current account) and a deposit account in the same bank, the deposit amount may be reduced by the amount of the overdraft and any credit balance is assessed as capital. Similarly the credit and debit balances in a Credit Union account are offset against one another, and only a net credit figure is assessed. The outstanding balance on a term-loan or mortgage is not offset in this way against savings in the same institution. An overdraft in one bank is not offset against a savings account in a different institution.
  2. Cash out on loan to another is assessable unless there is no reasonable chance of recovery.

(e) Pension Funds, Trust funds etc. owned by the claimant.

  1. Pension Funds
  2. The value of a pension fund is only accessible for means when a person has access to the pension fund. The rules of a pension scheme will determine what and when benefits are payable from the scheme.
  3. Any benefits in the form of a regular payment or a lump sum payment will be accessed as means.
  4. Regular pension payments will be treated as income for means purposes. The value of any cash otherwise available from a pension fund will be assessed on the basis of the capital valuation of that fund.
  5. A claimant should supply the last Annual Benefit Statement provided by the trustees of the pension scheme to the Department. This will state the date that the benefits of the pension can be accrued.
  6. Similar to the above, the terms of the buy-out bond will determine what and when benefits are payable to the holder of the bond. A person should provide details of the bond to the Department in order to prove that they do not have access to any benefits.
  7. Note: If the claimant only has a life interest in the capital, the capital lump sum is not assessed as property, and any periodic payments received are assessed as cash income.
  8. Doubt arises at times as to whether the claimant has ownership of the funds or just a life interest, i.e. entitlement to periodic payments only. Enquiry as to whether any amount left at date of death reverts to his/her estate, or whether full title of any balance then passes to another (e.g. the fund holder) may clarify this point.

(f) Leases that are marketable - e.g. a lease on a shop that is sublet, or that is lying idle, where the lease has a marketable value; or ownership of ground rents.

  1. Similar to this is ownership of a taxi-plate or of a pub-licence that is not being used personally but is leased to another or is being retained as an investment. A distinction is drawn between investments of this nature that are essentially of a business nature, and investment in house furnishings, jewellery etc. which are essentially for personal use or enjoyment and therefore not assessable.

(g) Property sold (including Milk Quotas etc.) where the payments are made on an instalment basis. The amount to be assessed at any time during the period between original agreement and final payment is the total amount of outstanding payments, together with any capital on hands from previous payments.

  1. (Payments made are not assessable as income.)

Example:

Original agreement: €30,000 to be paid by 5 instalments of €6,000 per year.
Assessment up to 1st instalment €6,000x5 €30,000
Assessment up to 2nd instalment €6,000 x 4 = €24,000 ( see note 3)
Assessment up to 3rd instalment €6,000 x 3 = €18,000 ( see note 3)
Assessment up to 4th instalment €6,000 x 2 = €12,000 ( see note 3)
Assessment up to 5th instalment €6,000 x 1 = €6,000 ( see note 3)

Note 3: plus any other capital held (balance on hands from previous payments etc.)

Example (IR£):

Original agreement: (£25,000) €31,743.45 to be paid by 5 instalments of (£5,000) €6348.69 per year.

Original agreement: (£25,000) €31,743.45 to be paid by 5 instalments of (£5,000) €6348.69 per year.
Assessment up to 1st instalment: (£5,000) €6,348.69 X 5 = (£25,000) €31743.45
Assessment up to 2nd instalment: (£5,000) €6348.69 X 4 = (£20,000) €25394.76 ( see note 4)
Assessment up to 3rd instalment: (£5,000) €6348.69 X 3 = (£15,000) €19046.07 ( see note 4)
Assessment up to 4th instalment: (£5,000) €6348.69X 2 = (£10,000) €12697.38 ( see note 4)
Assessment up to 5th instalment: (£5,000) €6348.69 X 1 = (£5,000) €6348.69 ( see note 4)

Note 4: Plus any other capital held (balance on hands from previous payments etc.)

(h) Withdrawals of capital not accounted for.

Large withdrawals of capital should be investigated - receipts should be requested to validate large sums spent. See "Property transferred" below re capital that is transferred to another person. Withdrawals that are not satisfactorily accounted for should be assessed.

Assessing joint accounts

Where an account is held jointly with another person, legally the entire asset is owned by each of the parties, and may be assessed in full against each. An exception to this is where the second party is unaware that his or her name has been added to the account.

In practice, however, consideration should be also given to the following factors and the assessment may be limited where it is considered appropriate to do so.

If both parties are in receipt of, or claiming, means tested payments, the asset should not be assessed in full against both. Depending on any other relevant factors, it should be assessed against both on a shared basis or against one only.

Where another name is added to the account purely for ease of withdrawal, or so that the second named party will inherit the money in the event of the death of the owner, and the money cannot be withdrawn on the sole signature of the second party, all of the money may be treated as the property of the main account holder, and no assessment made against the second party. If the other party is also in receipt of a means-tested payment, the relevant file should be checked to ensure consistency of assessment.

In cases where joint account holders have contributed to the funds, or either party may withdraw on his/her sole signature, each should be assessed with an equal share.

Where an account comes to light after the death of the claimant, it should be assessed in full against the claimant unless there is reason to believe that the funds were contributed in part by the other party, and/or the other party operated the account on his or her own behalf.

Where an account is held in the sole name of a claimant but it is stated that the money belongs to another person, the balance should nevertheless be assessed in full against the claimant. If, however the claimant subsequently transfers the account to that other person, such transfer should be accepted unless there is reasonable evidence to prove that the money does actually belong to the claimant.

(See also paragraph on " Property Transferred".)

Assessment of house property

Property covered by this rule includes houses (other than a person's own home), buildings or land owned but not personally used or enjoyed.

The house in which a person resides, together with furniture and personal effects is not assessed.

Property must be capable of being sold, let or put to profitable use before a capital value assessment is applied.

The most common example is where a person owns a second house. If the house is let, the owner is assessed with the capital value of the property, not with the income from the letting. Similarly, the market value of leases and ground rents is assessed as capital; the income is not assessed.

Any outstanding mortgage registered against the property is deducted from the market value.

Assessment of Land Let

NOTE: Land let for short periods such as on the eleven months system is regarded as remaining under the control of the owner and the means are taken as the profits from the letting rather than the capital value of the land. (See " Letting of farms".)

Establishing the market value

The current market value of a property is considered to be what the market will bear, not what the customer is willing to sell the property for.

In establishing the current market value of a property one of the following approaches should be taken:

  1. Receipt of a reasonable valuation from a registered auctioneer on headed paper, with reference to the purchase price and date of purchase of the property
  2. Agree a valuation with a customer with reference to independent property websites or property supplements.

From the 12 March, 2012 Inspectors requiring a valuation of property should complete Part 2 on the IN 94 (rev) and forward it to the Regional Support Unit.

Where means from other sources clearly exceed the qualifying limit, however, it will be unnecessary to seek official valuation, and an estimate of the value may be accepted.

Property outside the State should be valued according to the best available evidence, if possible from a property tax return or an auctioneer's statement.

Property Personally Used and Enjoyed

Property which is personally used and enjoyed by a person is assessed on the yearly income derived by a person from it. This includes:

  • a farm of land owned or leased.
  • a house partly lived in and partly let.
  • accommodation provided under the terms of a will or deed of transfer.
(a) Means From Farming

A person is assessed with the prospective income from the farm in the next 12 months. In most cases the figures for the last 12 months can be used for this purpose. If there has been a major change in stock levels or in method of farming, an estimation will need to be made on the best available evidence.

The yearly value (or net profit) is calculated by deducting all necessary expenses from the gross income.

The investigating officer will complete a form (IN93) giving details of income and expenditure from the farm and the Deciding Officer will issue a copy of this form to the claimant with the decision. (See separate guideline " "Farm Means Assessment of income from Farming"" for more detail)

(b) Letting of farms.

The income from land let, sub-let or leased is assessed as follows:

Where a claimant is the lessor of a farm of land (including an eleven months letting, letting on conacre, letting in agistment) the value of the property is not assessed under Rule 1(1), but the yearly value of any advantage accruing from that leased land is assessed under Rule 1(3).

Necessary expenses actually incurred by the owner (e.g. fencing or fertilising between lettings) may be deducted from the gross rent received.

Where a claimant is the owner or tenant of a farm of land and lets or sub-lets the farm to another due to illness or old age and receives part of the rent in kind instead of cash, the total benefit from the holding should be assessed.

Example
Claimant owns farm of land valued at: €200,000
The farm is let at an annual rent of : €5,000
A necessary expense for fencing was incurred by the owner: €500
The total benefit of the holding for that particular year €4,500

The total benefit of the holding for that particular year of €4,500 is assessed.

(c) Apportioning farm income in intestacy cases.

Where a land owner dies without making a will (intestate), legal entitlement to the land is divided between his/her family in the following manner: A two-thirds share is granted to the surviving spouse or civil partner and the remaining one-third is divided equally amongst the other members of the immediate family. However, the assessment of means will normally reflect the actual extent to which the claimant benefits from the income of the holding, rather than the strictly legal entitlement, as follows.

Where the beneficiaries exercise their right to divide the land and work their portion separately for their own gain, the net profit from the person's portion of the land will be assessed as means.

Where the person is in sole control of running the holding, s/he will be assessed with the net profit, making allowances for any wages or maintenance supplied to other members of the family who work thereon, or payments made to them in respect of their intestacy interest.

Where s/he is involved in running the holding jointly with another relative, the profits will be divided proportionately between them.

Where the holding is in the sole control of a parent, benefit and privilege (in Jobseeker's Allowance or Pre-Retirement Pension cases) will be assessed in accordance with the relevant guidelines (see " JA - Benefit and Privilege").

If the person is not resident on the holding, s/he should not be assessed with any benefit from his/her intestacy interest unless s/he is receiving a payment from the person running the holding.

(d) Farms Kept Below Potential Income

If the income from a farm is deliberately kept below the potential income in order that a claimant will qualify for a pension/allowance or a pension/allowance at a higher rate, the claimant is deemed to have deprived (her)himself of income and so the potential income is assessable against the claimant.

(e) Property partly occupied by the claimant.

Any cash income from the portion of a house that is not personally used or enjoyed, is assessable against the claimant as income.

If a portion of the house is being let or is being used for business purposes the following should apply. Deductions from profits should be allowed in respect of ground rent and mortgage interest (not the full amount of the loan repayment) in proportion to the area used for business purposes. If rooms are let furnished, 5% of the gross amount received are allowed for wear and tear and 15% of the gross receipts maybe allowed for voids (i.e. periods when accommodation vacant between lettings).

Please note that in relation to State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Widow’s, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension (previously Widow’s Non-Contributory Pension) no assessment is made of any money received in respect of rent from a person who lives with the pensioner where, but for that person, the pensioner would reside alone.

(This applies in the case of State Pension (Non-Contributory) from 17th October 1997, and in the case of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension from 1st April 1998)

Property Vacated because of Old Age or Illness.
(This does not apply in the case of Rent Allowances).

Where a person leaves his/her home on a temporary basis, or for an indefinite period as a result of old age or illness, the capital value of his/her home is not assessed as means unless it is put to profitable use. If put to profitable use (for example rented out) the capital value of the house is assessed as means.

Note 6: A house in this case could include a dwelling house, a flat or an apartment which is, or has been occupied by the claimant as his/her main residence, or land or gardens with that residence up to and including one acre in size, which the claimant used for his/her own enjoyment.

Property Offered for sale.
(This does not apply in the case of Rent Allowances).

Where a person has offered his/her home for sale, the value of the property is not assessed as means for a period not more than two years from the date on which the property was first offered for sale. This exemption was introduced on 7th September 1995. If the property remains unsold after 2 years, the normal capital value is assessed thereafter.

This exemption only applies where the property is not invested or put to profitable use, i.e. is lying idle. Where the property is let, it is assessed in the usual way.

Note 1: Following the sale the capital is assessed as normal except for the provisions of the next section, "Proceeds from Sale of residence (over 66 years)."

Note 2: Where a person has sold his/her residence and is holding the money pending completion of the purchase of another, a Deciding Officer may decide not to assess the capital for a temporary period and review in 3/6 months to confirm that the purchase was completed.

EXEMPTION OF THE SALE PROCEEDS OF A PERSON'S PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE FROM THE MEANS TEST

Where a person sells his/her principal residence, the gross proceeds of the sale up to a maximum of €190,500 (£150,000) are exempted from the means test in certain circumstances. (Prior to 5 July 2000, this limit was £75,000)

To whom does the exemption apply?

The exemption originally applied to people aged 66 or over who were getting any of the following payments;

  • State Pension (Non-Contributory) ( see note below)
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension
  • Deserted Wife's Allowance – now subsumed into the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
  • Prisoner's Wife's Allowance – now subsumed into the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
  • Lone Parents Allowance – now subsumed into the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)

Note: The spouse or civil partner age 66 or over of an State Pension (Non-Contributory) pensioner may also avail of the exemption

In the above cases, the sale must have taken place on or after 4 April 1990 at which time the claimant or beneficiary must have been aged 66 or over. However, in the case of State Pension (Non-Contributory), where the spouse or civil partner (age 66 or over) of the pensioner or beneficiary sells the residence, it is acceptable for the sale to have taken place on or after 2 December 1993.

From 6 April 2001, the exemption was extended to people who are getting Blind Person's Pension [Section 13(2)(b), Social Welfare Act, 2001 refers]. Also in April 2001, the exemption was further extended to people under age 66 who are getting either Disability Allowance or Blind Person's Pension provided the sale took place on or after 1 April 2001 [SI 132/2001 refers].

In what circumstances does the exemption apply?

The residence must have been sold so as to enable the person to:

  • purchase or rent alternative accommodation, which s/he occupies as his/her only or main residence or
  • move into a private nursing home which has been registered under Section 4, Health (Nursing Home) Acts, 1990.

From 5 April 2002, this provision was extended to any of the categories of people outlined above who:

  • move in with a recipient of Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit, where the Carer's Allowance/Benefit recipient is that pensioner's carer
  • move to sheltered or special housing in the voluntary co-operative, statutory or private sectors that is funded under the Capital Assistance Scheme operated by the Department of the Environment and Local Government.

[SI 120/2002 refers]

How does the exemption work?

The gross proceeds derived from the sale of the principal residence are defined as meaning

  • the agreed sale price of the residence or
  • where alternative accommodation is being purchased, the difference between the agreed sale price of the former residence and the agreed purchase price of the replacement residence subject to a maximum of €190,500 (£150,000).

Example I
A person sells his/her house for €200,000 and buys alternative accommodation for €150,000. In these circumstances, the balance of €50,000 is not counted as means as it is below the limit of €190,500.

Example II
A person sells his/her house for €450,000 and buys alternative accommodation for €200,000 leaving a balance of €250,000. In these circumstances, only a sum of €59,500 (i.e. €250,000 less €190,500) is assessed as means.

(In all cases, the amount of the exemption may not be reduced by reference to solicitor's fees, auctioneer's fees etc. or to other expenses incurred).

Investment income from sale proceeds

Any benefit received from investing the sale proceeds is assessable as means. Interest which is retained as capital is assessable in the same way as capital is normally assessed.

However, allowance should be made where a person has significant maintenance expenses, such as nursing home costs, which are met out of interest payments. In such cases, only the interest on the exempted capital (up to a maximum of €190,500) may be disregarded as means.

Property Transferred

Where it appears that a claimant has either directly or indirectly deprived himself/herself of any income or property in order to qualify for a payment, or to qualify to a payment at a higher rate, the income or the yearly value of the property must be assessed as means against the claimant.

In such cases, where the yearly value of the property or income has decreased since the date of deprival or transfer, account shall be taken of this decrease. In a case where the value of the property or income has increased since the date of deprival or transfer, the means assessed will not take account of this increase.

When Are Transfers Accepted

(i) Farm or Business.

A transfer is generally accepted where the farm or business is transferred due to advanced age and/or failing health of the claimant or where the transfer is considered to be part of a genuine family settlement. Cases of doubt arise where the claimant transfers the farm or business to an elderly person, a juvenile or a relative (or other person) who resides outside the State or is otherwise effectively removed from the enterprise.

In the case of farms the investigating officer should ascertain whether the farmer has in reality transferred effective control of the holding including herd/flock number, milk quota, etc.

A copy of the Deed of Assignment or Transfer will be requested by the Investigator. A deed of transfer may be accepted when it has been certified by the solicitor as having been lodged for stamping with the Land Registry.

Note: If the deed of transfer reserves a right to be "supported and maintained in the manner to which he or she is accustomed" (or similar wording), and these terms are being honoured, Free Fuel allowance is not payable.

(ii) Capital.

It is more difficult when it comes to accepting the transfer of large sums of capital. However, the Deciding Officer may accept the transfer where (or to the extent that s/he is satisfied that) the person transferred the money to relatives/friends in order to make provision for his/her care, or where the transfer was a genuine settlement due to advanced age and/or illness.

Where an assessment includes transferred capital, there must be at least a prima facie case for believing that the reason for the transfer was in order to qualify for (or for a higher rate of) pension, benefit or allowance.


SECTION 2 - CASH INCOME

Summary

All cash income to the person (and, where relevant, to the person's spouse, civil partner or cohabitant) is assessed except for specific exclusions as set out below. The assessment must reflect the income the person may reasonably be expected to receive during the coming 12 months. Where this is not ascertainable otherwise, the income for the last 12 months should be taken as a guide, allowing for any factors which it is known will vary.

In Jobseekers Allowance, Pre-Retirement Allowance, Disability Allowance and Farm Assist cases, moneys received by an applicant or spouse, civil partner or cohabitant whether as contributions towards the expenses of the household or otherwise are to be included in the assessment of means. These will ordinarily be payments made by members of the household as contributions to household expenses, but money sent home by absent members of the family or relatives must also be included. Where, however, board and lodgings or other benefits in kind are provided by the claimant or spouse, civil partner or cohabitant in return for the contributions referred to, the cost of such benefits is to be deducted from the amount of the contribution.

In One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Disability Allowance cases, any maintenance received by a qualified child is also assessed.

In the case of Rent Allowance, any income received by a qualified child and other persons who reside in the household is also taken into account.

This section is sub-divided as follows:

INCOME EXCLUDED

DEDUCTIONS FROM EARNINGS:

Insurable employment - claimant

Insurable employment - spouse, civil partner or cohabitant

Self-employment - claimant

Self-employment - spouse, civil partner or cohabitant

ASSESSMENT OF MAINTENANCE:

Deeds of Covenant

Income Excluded

The following exclusions apply to all Schemes covered by this guideline:

(Family Income Supplement and Supplementary Allowance are covered by different guidelines)

  • Income from property assessed on its capital value;
  • Any payment made by the Department of Social Protection ( see note 11)

    (NOTE: Community Employment (CE) payments made by FÁS are not excluded)

    Note: This exclusion is restricted in the case of Rent Allowance claims to
    • Guardian's Payment (Contributory),
    • Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory),
    • Occup. Injuries Benefit Death Benefit by way of Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory) and
    • Family Income Supplement.
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance as paid by a Community Welfare Officer ( see note 12)
    Note: This exclusion does not apply to Rent Allowance
  • Any payment corresponding to Child Benefit from another EU Member State. ( NOTE: Other foreign social welfare payments are not excluded, except for Carer's Allowance - see below)
  • Any payment of a Domiciliary Care Allowance or a Home Care Grant from the Health Service Executive (HSE);
  • Any payment in respect of the boarding out of not more than 2 people in a private dwelling where arrangements have been provided for the payment of all or part of the costs of the boarding out by the HSE.
  • Any allowance under the Home Tuition Scheme administered by the Department of Education and Science;
  • Any payment of Mobility Allowance from the HSE;
  • Any amount received as a training allowance while undergoing a course of rehabilitation training by an organisation approved by the Minister for Health.
  • Income from non-profit making charitable organisations.
    See list of recognised charities for this purpose ( List of Charitable Bodies in folder Means Assessment).
  • Any payment to a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant in respect of Back to Work Allowance, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, Back to Education Allowance or Part-Time Job Incentive.
  • Any payment to a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant in respect of a FÁS course (not including CE);
  • Any payment to a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant in respect of VTOS;
  • Grants to parents of children attending primary school in Gaeltacht areas;
  • Income from providing accommodation to students studying Irish in Gaeltacht areas, under a scheme administered by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs;
  • €104 per year from an allowance, dependants allowance, disability or wound pension under the Army Pensions Act, 1923 to 1980 (including a British War Pension), or a combination of such allowances and pensions.
  • Infectious Diseases Maintenance Allowance in respect of a person or his/her dependants.
  • PRSA contributions;
  • 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.
  • 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 subsequent income from investment of that money.
  • Compensation awards to persons who have a disability caused by Thalidomide together with subsequent income from the investment of that money.
  • Any repayments in the hands of the overcharged person and/or his or her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant under the Nursing Home Repayments scheme.Where a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant or child of an overcharged person has directly received a repayment from the HSE on foot of their paying the fees to the nursing home, then it is not assessable in respect of their means. However this exclusion does not apply to the beneficiaries of the estates of relevant persons in respect of whom a repayment is made.

Additional items that do not count as means for Jobseeker's Allowance, PRETA, Disability Allowance and Farm Assist.

  • The maintenance portion of a Local Authority Higher Education Grant
  • One half of the first €153 per annum and one third of the next €228 per annum of a claimant's or spouse, civil partner or cohabitant's income derived from seasonal fishing (any portion of the income exceeding €381 is assessed in full. Seasonal fishing usually refers to salmon, lobster, oyster or mussel fishing

Additional items that do not count as means for Jobseeker's Allowance, PRETA

  • €2,540 per year of income under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). (This provision came into effect on 3/4/96);
  • €2,540 per year of income from the Special Areas of Conservation Compensation Scheme. (This provision came into effect on 1/4/98)
  • 50% per year of income above €2,540 and all expenses necessarily incurred under either of the above schemes is also excluded. (This provision came into effect on 1/4/98)

Where the claimant is engaged in self employed fishing on a registered fishing boat or on a fishing boat and in a place in respect of which a licence to fish for salmon at sea has been issued, the following deductions are allowed from all income derived by the claimant from any self employment (after any expenses necessarily incurred have been deducted):

  • €254 each in respect of the first two qualified children, and
  • €190.50 in respect of each subsequent qualified child and
  • 70% of the remainder.

Additional items that do not count as means for Farm Assist.

  • €2,540 per year of income under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). (This provision came into effect on 03/04/1996);
  • €2,540 per year of income from the Special Areas of Conservation Compensation Scheme. (This provision came into effect on 01/04/1998)
  • 50% per year of income above €2,540 and all expenses necessarily incurred under either of the above schemes are also excluded. (This provision came into effect on 01/04/98)
  • Up to 1,270 per year earned from the collection of seaweed.

Where the claimant is engaged in self employed fishing on a registered fishing boat or on a fishing boat and in a place in respect of which a licence to fish for salmon at sea has been issued, the following deductions are allowed from all income derived by the claimant from any self employment (after any expenses necessarily incurred have been deducted):

  • €127 each in respect of the first two qualified children, and
  • €190.50 in respect of each subsequent qualified child and
  • 85% of the remainder.

For further detail please see separate guidelines on "“ Farm Means Assessment of Income from Farming" and “ Farm Assist”.

Additional items that do not count as means for the State Pension (Non Contributory).

  • Blind Welfare Allowance paid by the HSE;
  • Any payment under the EU Early Retirement Scheme from Farming.
  • Any money received in respect of rent from a person who lives with the pensioner, and but for that person the pensioner would be residing alone.
  • €2,540 per year of income under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). (This provision came into effect on 3/4/96);
  • €2,540 per year of income from the Special Areas of Conservation Compensation Scheme. (This provision came into effect on 1/4/98)
  • 50% per year of income above €2,540 and all expenses necessarily incurred under either of the above schemes is also excluded. (This provision came into effect on 1/4/98). See also separate guideline on "FARM MEANS" for further detail.
  • Total amount of an allowance, special allowance, dependant's allowance, disability pension or wound pension under the Army Pensions Acts 1923 1980 or a pension under the Military Service (Pensions) Acts 1924 to 1964 in respect of service in the period from 23 April 1916 to 30 September 1923.
  • Total amount of any pension under the Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Acts 1936 to 1964.

With effect from 7th April 1999, anyone transferring direct to the (then) Old Age Pension from Farm Assist retained the assessment of income appropriate to that scheme, if the rate payable was greater than the then OAP. This provision was extended to Blind Pension, Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non–Contributory Pension (formerly the Widow/er's Non-Contributory Pension), One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Deserted Wife's Allowance on the introduction of the State Pension Non-Contributory on September 29, 2006.

Additional items that do not count as means for One-Parent Family Payment, Carer's Allowance, Widow, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non Contributory Pension and Blind Pension

  • Total amount of an allowance, special allowance, dependant's allowance, disability pension or wound pension under the Army Pensions Acts 1923 1980 or a pension under the Military Service (Pensions) Acts 1924 to 1964 in respect of service in the period from 23 April 1916 to 30 September 1923.
  • Total amount of any pension under the Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Acts 1936 to 1964.

Additional item that does not count as means for One-Parent Family Payment.

  • The maintenance portion of a Local Authority Higher Education Grant.

Additional items that do not count as means for Carer's Allowance

  • In the case of a carer who is married, in a civil partnership or co-habiting, the first €665, effective from 3 April, 2008, of the couple's combined income.
  • For the carer a disregard of an amount up to the equivalent of the maximum rate of state contributory pension (plus half rate allowance for each dependent child) is set against income from a Social Welfare Payment from another State. The overall disregard of €332.50 will then apply to the excess.
  • For the carer a disregard of an amount up to the equivalent of the maximum rate of state contributory pension (plus half rate allowance for each dependent child) is set against income from a Social Welfare Payment from another State. For the Spouse/Civil Partner/Co-habitant a disregard of an amount up to the equivalent of the maximum rate of state contributory pension (plus half rate allowance for each dependent child) is set against income from a Social Welfare Payment from another State. The excess of the carer and the spouse/civil partner/co-habitant is then added to all other weekly income and the overall disregard of €665 will then apply.

Additional items that do not count as means for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non Contributory Pension

  • From 1 April, 1998, any money received in respect of rent from a person who lives with the pensioner, and but for that person the pensioner would be residing alone.

Additional items that do not count as means for Blind Person's Pension.

  • The maintenance portion of a Local Authority Higher Education Grant.
  • Blind Welfare Allowance paid by the HSE;

Deductions From Earnings

Insurable Employment - Claimant

Jobseeker's Allowance

From 26 September 2007 a new means assessment applies to assessable income

Assessable income is gross earnings less deductions for PRSI, superannuation (including AVC's and PRSA's) and union dues.

Deductions in respect of income tax, VHI or similar health insurance premiums and travel expenses are not allowed.

Previous to 26 September 2007 net earnings did not include tax and VHI or similar health insurance premiums. A moderate allowance was disregarded for travel expenses of the spouse/partner is he/she worked 3 days or less a week.

From 26 September 2007 - Earnings from insurable employment are assessed as means using the following method:

Under the new means assessment (from 26 September 2007) a family rate less means applies. The family rate is based on a personal rate, a full qualified adult rate and full qualified child rate less means. A disregard to €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 customer are calculated as follows: assessable income less the relevant disregards and the balacne 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.

Assessment of earnings from insurable employment previous to 26 September 2007 for customer with qualified children and with NO qualified children

  • Person With Qualified Child Dependants: Where a person had one or more qualified child dependant(s) and was working part of the week while claiming JA, means were assessed as 60% of the average net weekly earnings.
  • Person With NO Qualified Child Dependants: Where a person had no qualified child dependants, €12.70 earnings for each day worked were disregarded from the average net weekly earnings, and 60% of the balance assessed against the weekly rate of JA.
  • Net earnings are gross earnings less deductions for income tax, PRSI, VHI or similar health insurance premiums, superannuation/PRSA contributions and union dues.
  • Income from insurable employment of a seasonal nature where the employment has ceased is not assessed. (Case is reviewed when the season recommences).
  • In the case of State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension all earnings are disregarded if employment is not more than 30 hours per week. Otherwise, normal rules apply.
  • See separate guideline for "JA Means from Insurable Employment" for more specific detail.

PRETA

  • PRETA recipients may not engage in insurable employment. If they wish to do so, they may transfer to Jobseeker's Allowance.

Disability Allowance

  • The first €120 of net weekly earnings from employment of a rehabilitative nature is disregarded, together with half of any additional earnings up to €350 per week. The tapering provisions were introduced with effect from 7/6/2006. The disregard was IR£75 prior to 3 April 2002, IR£50 prior to 7/4/2000 and IR£34.10 prior to 5/6/1998).
  • Net earnings are gross earnings less income tax, PRSI, Superannuation/PRSA contributions, union dues and reasonable travel expenses.

Farm Assist

  • The arrangements are identical to Jobseeker's Allowance - see separate guideline for "JA Means from Insurable Employment".
  • Income from insurable employment of a seasonal nature where the employment has ceased is not assessed. (Case is reviewed when the season recommences).

State Pension (Non Contributory)

  • The first €200 of net weekly earnings from employment is disregarded.
  • Net earnings are gross earnings less PRSI, Superannuation/PRSA contributions and union dues.

One-Parent Family Payment

Earnings Disregards

  • From January 2nd 2014 OFP earnings disregards are being reduced from €110 to €90 per week. (RSU Circular 74/13 refers).
  • From January 3rd 2013 The OFP earnings disregard has been reduced to €110 per week (€130p.w.).
  • From 5th  of January 2012 the first €130 (from €146.50) per week of gross earnings is disregarded for new and existing customers.

Transitional Payments

From the 5th of January 2012 the transitional payment of half of the rate of One-Parent Family Payment where the recipient’s earnings exceed €425 per week was  discontinued for new customers.  Customers who were in receipt transitional payments at the time, continued to receive it for the remainder of the period for which they qualified for it.  (The transitional payment was made to OFP customers who were in receipt of OFP payment for 52 consecutive weeks immediately prior to earnings exceeding the earnings limit that applied.)

Carer's Allowance.

  • The carer is allowed to work up to a maximum of 15 hours a week as a home help, provided that adequate arrangements are made for the care of the pensioner in the absence of the carer. There are no specific earnings disregard in respect of employment. However see below in relation to means disregards generally*
  • (*Total amount of an allowance, special allowance, dependant's allowance, disability pension or wound pension under the Army Pensions Acts 1923 1980 or a pension under the Military Service (Pensions) Acts 1924 to 1964 in respect of service in the period from 23 April 1916 to 30 September 1923.
  • Total amount of any pension under the Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Acts 1936 to 1964)

Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension

  • The first €100 of net weekly earnings from employment is disregarded.
  • Net earnings are gross earnings less PRSI, Superannuation/PRSA contributions and union dues.

Blind Pensioners

  • The first €120 of net weekly earnings from employment of a rehabilitative nature is disregarded, together with half of any additional earnings up to €350 per week. The tapering provisions were introduced with effect from 07/06/2007. The disregard was £75 prior to 3 April 2002, £50 prior to 7/4/2000 and £34.10 prior to 5/6/1998).
  • Net earnings are gross earnings less PRSI, Superannuation/PRSA contributions and union dues.

Additional disregards for Rent Allowance

  • VHI or similar health insurance premiums and PAYE are disregarded as well as €70.34 from the net income of each additional member of the household. The remaining sum is divided by 5, giving the amount which must be deducted in respect of that person.
Insurable Employment - Spouse, Civil Partner or Cohabitant

Jobseeker's Allowance, PRETA, Farm Assist and Disability Allowance

From 26 September 2007 a new means assessment applies. Under the new assessment assessable earnings of the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant are calculated as the gross earnings less PRSI, Superannuation and Trade Union Subscriptions (deductions in respect of income tax and Health Insurance premiums e.g. VHI or similar health insurance premiums, Hospital Saturday Fund etc or any travel expenses are no longer disregarded from 26 September 2007)

From 26 September 2007 - Earnings from insurable employment are assessed as means using the following method:

Under the new means assessment (from 26 September 2007) a family rate less means applies. The family rate is based on a personal rate, a full qualified adult rate and full qualified child rate less means. If the customer has a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant in employment a disregard of €20.00 a day also applies to the spouse/civil partner or cohabitant for a maximum of 3 days a week (maximum €60.00 a week) and the balance is assessed at 60%.

Previous to 26 September 2007 a travel allowance applied in certain cases depending on the number of days the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant worked each week.

  • The net earnings of the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant are calculated as the gross earnings less Income Tax, PRSI, Superannuation, Trade Union dues and Health Insurance premiums (e.g. VHI or similar health insurance premiums, Hospital Saturday Fund etc.).
  • An additional sum is disregarded depending on the number of days the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant works each week:
  • working 3 days or less per week €50 from 3rd May 2006 (previously €38.09) ( plus travel expenses, where appropriate).
  • working 4 or more days per week €100 from 3rd May 2006 (previously €88.88) ( standard rate travel expenses are not allowable)
  • Income from insurable employment of a seasonal nature where the employment has ceased is not assessed. (Case is reviewed when the season recommences).
  • See separate guideline for JA- JA PRETA Means Assessment, civil partner or cohabitant earnings

State Pension (Non Contributory)

  • The first €200 of net weekly earnings from employment is disregarded.
  • Net earnings are gross earnings less PRSI, Superannuation/PRSA contributions and union dues.

Carer's Allowance

  • There is no specific earnings disregard in respect of employment by a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. Please refer to the means disregard for this allowance above.

Blind Pensioners

  • There are no specific earnings disregard in respect of employment by a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant.

Rent Allowance

  • VHI or similar health insurance premiums and PAYE are disregarded as well as €70.34 from the net income of each additional member of the household. The remaining sum is divided by 5, giving the amount which must be deducted in respect of that person.
Self Employment - Claimant

All Schemes

  • All expenses directly related to the self employment. In self employment cases the income is taken to be the gross profit less allowable work related expenses, but not drawings. Where the person has taken "drawings" from the business which are greater than the level of income thus calculated, the drawings are assessed as cash income.
  • There is no exhaustive list of all expenses allowed in self employed cases, since expenses vary with the nature and extent of the self employment. However the following are the main allowable expenses in most instances:
  • Materials (supplies costs)
  • Motor running costs (portion applicable to business)
  • Depreciation of machinery or equipment
  • Insurance relating to the business
  • Telephone (portion applicable to business)
  • Lighting and Heating (for business and not domestic use)
  • Advertising
  • Bank Charges
  • Stationery
  • Van Leasing
  • Labour Costs
  • Pension plan
  • and any other costs associated with running the business.
  • Household running costs are not allowed as deductions against business profit.
  • Class S PRSI contributions (where paid or payable) (Note if payable but not being paid, a separate report should be made by the Social Welfare Investigator on this aspect.)

Disability Allowance

The first €120 of net weekly earnings from self-employment of a rehabilitative nature is disregarded, together with half of any additional earnings up to €350 per week. The tapering provisions were introduced with effect from 7/6/2006. The disregard was £75.00 prior to 3 April 2002, £50 prior to 7/4/2000 and £34.10 prior to 5/6/1998).

  • Net earnings are gross earnings less income tax, PRSI, Superannuation/PRSA contributions, union dues and reasonable travel expenses.

Farm Assist

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)

  • The first €130 (was €146.50) per week of gross earnings from self-employment is disregarded.

    From 5 January 2012 the transitional payment of half of the rate of an OFP where the recipient's earnings exceed €425 per week is discontinued. Recipients of this payment prior to 5 January 2012 will not be affected.
  • New claimants with earnings over €425 (was €400) per week will not qualify for One-Parent family Payment (OFP). Existing payment of the transitional payment will not be affected.
    Please see separate guideline on One-Parent Family Payment.

State Pension (Non Contributory)

  • €133 euro per annum in respect of each qualified child (where appropriate note only one deduction is allowed per child where each of the couple are self-employed).

Blind Pensioners

  • €400 per annum in respect of the pensioner.
  • €265 per annum in respect of a qualified adult.
  • €133 per annum in respect of each qualified child (where appropriate note only one deduction is allowed per child where each of the couple are working).
Self Employment - Spouse, Civil Partner or Cohabitant

General

  • There are no specific disregards where the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is self-employed, however, the arrangements outlined above apply.(See list of allowable expenses)
ASSESSMENT OF MAINTENANCE

The following chapter explains how maintenance payments are assessed for the purposes of determining entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance, pre-retirement allowance, farm assist, disability allowance, State Pension (Non-Contributory) , blind pension, widows &widowers (non-contributory) pension, & Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory).

The effective dates for the method of assessment are as follows:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance – Effective date for the method of assessment 30 April 2003
  • Pre-retirement allowance - 30 April 2003
  • Farm Assist - 30 April 2003
  • Disability Allowance -7 May 2003
  • State Pension (Non-contributory) - 9 May 2003
  • Blind pension - 9 May 2003
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-contributory) Pension - 9 May 2003 and
  • Guardian's Payment (Non-contributory) - 9 May 2003

Prior to these dates the method of assessment varied from scheme to scheme.

Please note: One-Parent Family Allowance/maintenance is addressed in a separate section of this guideline

For the purposes of all the above mentioned schemes, if a person is living apart from his/her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and s/he is in receipt of maintenance from that spouse, civil partner or cohabitant any moneys received by way of maintenance payments including maintenance payments in respect of children are assessed as means. Maintenance from more than one person will be added and assessed. Where a person is co-habiting and his/her partner is in receipt of maintenance, this maintenance is assessable.

Any maintenance payment, whether a formal or an informal arrangement or whether procured by way of Court Order or otherwise is assessable as means.

In assessing the means, housing costs actually incurred by the claimant,(e.g. rent or mortgage payments and/or home improvement loan) up to a maximum of €95.23 per week may be offset against the maintenance payment, with half the balance of the maintenance being assessed as means in the determination of the rate of payment of any of the schemes mentioned at the outset.

Housing costs actually incurred by the customer refer solely to money paid for rent or mortgage or repayments of home improvement loan for the residence in which the customer is residing.

Evidence of the housing costs such as rent/mortgage repayments must be provided by the claimant.

EXAMPLE 1
Maintenance Payment €150 per week
Housing Costs €120 per week  
Less disregard for housing costs Minus €95.23
Balance = €54.77
Excess of Maintenance halved €54.77 divided by 2
Means from maintenance €27.38

For the purposes of Jobseeker's Allowance, Farm Assist & PRETA the means as assessed is rounded to the nearest Euro.

EXAMPLE 2
Maintenance Payment €200 per week
Less housing costs Minus €60.00 per week
Balance = €140.00
Excess of Maintenance halved €140.00 divided by 2
Means from maintenance €70.00

Maintenance paid to or in respect of a child who has a means tested social welfare claim in his/her own right

In Jobseeker's Allowance cases, where a qualified child reaches 18 years of age and claims Jobseeker's Allowance in his/her own right, any maintenance that continues to be paid to the parent is assessed as benefit and privilege against the child. Where a portion of the maintenance is paid directly to the child this portion is assessed as cash income against the child/claimant and the remainder which is paid to the parent is assessed as benefit and privilege against the child.

*It is unlikely that the latter situation will arise.

In Disability Allowance cases, where the child qualifies for payment in his/her own right, any cash income received is assessable as means. This also applies to cash income from either parent. If maintenance payments take the form of a direct cash payment by either spouse, civil partner or cohabitant to the Disability Allowance claimant, it is assessable as means.

Saver Clause

Where a person was in receipt of or entitled to any of the payments as listed below immediately before the relevant effective date and the new method of assessment is less favourable, they may continue to be paid on the basis of the assessment that pertained prior to the relevant effective date.

Where a saver has been applied, it may continue to be applied if the person does not break the continuity of his/her entitlement to any of the payments ( see below) for 52 consecutive weeks any time after the effective date. In effect this means a person who has been saved on one scheme and then transfers to another of the schemes within 52 weeks, the saver may continue to be applied.

Note: For the purposes of the Saver Clause the following are the payments that satisfy continuity:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance,
  • Pre-Retirement Allowance,
  • Farm Assist,
  • Disability Allowance,
  • State Pension (Non-Contributory),
  • Blind Pension,
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension,
  • Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory), and
  • One Parent Family Allowance.
Previous Methods of Assessment of Maintenance (prior to April/May 2003)

If a person is living apart from his/her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, but the spouse/ civil partner / cohabitant pays a weekly amount to him/her in maintenance s/he will be assessed with the cash value of such payments.

Maintenance payments (or portions thereof) specified as paid in respect of children are only assessed as means in Disability Allowance cases (cash payments), and in One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) cases (see below).

In Jobseekers Allowance cases, where a qualified child reaches 18 years of age and claims Jobseekers Allowance in his/her own right, any maintenance that continues to be paid to/in respect of the child, i.e. now the 18 year old who is claiming in his/her own right, is assessed as means against the child/claimant him/herself.

Mortgage/rent (Jobseekers Allowance cases)

Where a person is living apart from his/her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and in addition to or instead of maintenance payments:

  1. the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is paying the mortgage/rent directly to the lending institution/landlord, or
  2. the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, in keeping with the terms of a court order or a legal agreement with the person, pays a specific amount to the person to fund mortgage repayments/rent, or
  3. the person, in keeping with an oral agreement between the parties, can produce documentary proof of regular mortgage/rent payments,

These payments should be treated as a maintenance payment in the normal way with the necessary disregards being applied. (Previously the value of such payments was assessed at EUR7.00 per week).

Cohabitation - maintenance paid to person's partner

Where a person is cohabiting and his/her partner is in receipt of maintenance, payments made specifically in respect of children are not assessable, but all maintenance paid in respect of the partner is assessed.

Where no breakdown between partner and children is specified, all of the maintenance is assessable.

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)

For the purpose of One-Parent Family Payment, maintenance payments in respect of both claimant and child/ren are assessed as means. Maintenance payments from more than one person will be added and assessed.

A claimant's housing costs such as rent or mortgage repayments, up to a maximum of €95.23 per week may be offset against maintenance payments with half the balance of maintenance being assessed as means in establishing the rate of One-Parent Family Payment due.

Evidence of housing costs, such as rent-receipt book from the landlord, or a statement of mortgage repayments, must be provided.

Retention of entitlement under existing Lone Parent's Allowance.

If the assessment under the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) conditions is less favourable to a person who was in receipt of Lone Parent's Allowance at 2/1/1997, s/he can continue to be paid on the basis of the Lone Parent's Allowance means test for the duration of her entitlement. For the purposes of this means test, maintenance was assessed in two ways as follows:

(a) Maintenance paid on the basis of a court order. Where a court order states the amount of maintenance paid in respect of the claimant and the amount paid in respect of the children, the amount of the maintenance in respect of the claimant only was assessed as means.

However where a claimant is responsible for paying a mortgage out of the maintenance, the total amount of the maintenance was taken into account, less the amount of the mortgage repayment. The amount of maintenance remaining was then assessed against claimant, in the ratio of his/her maintenance to the whole maintenance.

Example: Maintenance €20.00 claimant + €40.00 children
Maintenance €60.00 per week
Mortgage €20.00 per week
Assessable maintenance €40.00 per week
Plus nominal assessment on accommodation €5.00 per week
TOTAL €45.00

This was assessed in the ratio of claimant's portion of maintenance to total maintenance, that is €20.00
€60.00 or 1/3.

Assessable means = 1/3 of €45.00 or €15.00 per week.

(b) Assessing maintenance paid on a voluntary basis. In this case, maintenance was divided equally between the claimant and the number of children in respect of whom the payment is made. For example, if payment is in respect of claimant and three children, weekly maintenance was divided in four, with one quarter being assessed as means against claimant.

Deeds of Covenant

A deed of covenant is an agreement between two persons, generally between a high rate tax payer and one with little or no tax liability e.g. father to son/daughter, whereby the donor agrees to make an annual payment to the other person for a minimum period, usually 6 years. The beneficiary/claimant receives from the donor the sum specified, less tax at the standard tax rate, and is entitled to reclaim from Revenue any tax paid, assuming his/her income does not exceed his/her TFA. The means assessed against the beneficiary/claimant comprise the amount specified in the deed made up of the direct payment plus the tax recouped.

Deprivation of income

(This provision relates to all schemes. Compare also section on " Property transferred" above.)

In any case where a person or his/her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant has deliberately, either directly or indirectly, deprived himself/herself of income in order to qualify for a pension or allowance, that income shall be assessed as means as if the person or couple had not deprived themselves of same.

In such cases, where the yearly value of the income has decreased since the date that the person or spouse, civil partner or cohabitant disposed of it, account will be taken of this decrease. In a case where the value of the income has increased since the date on which the person or spouse, civil partner or cohabitant disposed of it, the means assessed will not take account of this increase.

Reduced rate of Army pensions

In certain cases, ex-army personnel who retire early, but who do not leave their army accommodation, are paid reduced rates of pension by the Department of Defence until they vacate their accommodation.

In investigating claims from ex-army personnel who retain their accommodation, the reasons for not vacating their army accommodation are investigated. If it is established that a person is depriving him/herself of an income (by virtue of reduced pension), s/he may be assessed with the full value of his/her pension.

In the case of claims for Jobseeker's Allowance by the sons/daughters of army personnel, benefit & privilege assessments will only be based on the actual rates of pension in payment.


SECTION 3 - ASSESSING THE MEANS OF A COUPLE

This section applies to the following Schemes:

  • State Pension (Non-Contributory),
  • Blind Pension,
  • and Carer's Allowance.

(Rule 4 of Part II of the Third Schedule refers.)

A couple in this case means:

Each person of a:

  • married couple or
  • civil partners who are living together or a
  • cohabiting couple

(See separate guideline re " Cohabitation" .)

Rule 4 is applied in the above schemes as follows when calculating the means of a person who is one of a couple living together:-

  • The means of each member of the couple are assessed according to the rules of Part II of the Third Schedule.
  • The means of the claimant shall be taken to be half (sometimes called a moiety) of the total means of the couple.
Married couple or Civil Partners temporarily living apart.

The following factors should be considered in deciding whether or not Rule 4 applies:

  • whether they share financially as a couple,
  • whether the separation is temporary or long-term,
  • whether there is an expectation of living together again shortly,
  • whether the marriage or civil partnership remains unbroken.

If, for example, one of the couple is employed away from home, but returns home periodically and regularly contributes to the support of the other member, the means in this case would generally be assessed on the basis of half the combined means of the couple.

Separation Order

Where a married couple are separated, any sums paid by one member of the couple to the other under the terms of a separation order, must be deducted from the means of the person paying it. Means are not halved in these circumstances.

Means Following the Death of One of a Couple

In the case of State Pension (Non-Contributory), Blind Pension and Carer's Allowance, the means of the surviving member of a couple are not altered because of the death of a spouse, civil partner, cohabitant.

Where a person was in receipt of (or becomes entitled to) payment of one of the above pensions or allowances prior to the death of his or her spouse / civil partner / cohabitant the half of the means assessed as the means of the spouse / civil partner / cohabitant at that date are deducted from the total means of the survivor thereafter, if any question arises with regard to a reduced entitlement. However the full means of the survivor are assessed in the context of an application for increase.

Example: One member of a couple dies on 1/7/97. On that date the joint means of the couple was €12,697.38 in capital (each being assessed with €6,348.69). Following the death the survivor continues to be assessed with half the disclosed means, which is €6,348.69.

If on 1/9/97 the survivor's capital increases to €15,236.86 s/he will be assessed as follows:
Capital €15,236.86
Less Amount assessed against deceased at date of death (01/07/97) €6,348.69
Capital which now counts as survivor's means €8,888.17

NOTES:

1. Where several items of means were assessed at date of death, and these items vary thereafter, in applying this rule it is advisable to show the moiety at death separately in regard to each item when calculating the effect of the later variations. Where an item of means ceases, the moiety deduction in relation to that item also ceases.
(Moiety at death = the half portion of the means assessed against the deceased member of the couple at date of death.)

2. It has been accepted that a transfer from British Retirement Pension (BRP) to British Widow's Pension (BWP) should be treated as a continuance of the same element of means and half of the BRP (which was payable to the survivor at the date of death of the spouse) may therefore be deducted from the BWP.

3. The above rule applies only to means which were disclosed. If undisclosed means subsequently come to light, they are assessed in full against the survivor.

(See " Payments" guideline regarding payment for 6 weeks after death.)

Testacy and Intestacy Cases
General

The provisions of the Succession Act 1965 apply to the estate of every person who dies after 1st January 1967 whether testate or intestate. These provisions provide rules in relation to the devolution, administration, disposition by will and distribution in intestacy of the property of the deceased person.

The rules afford the surviving spouse or civil partner a legal right to a share in the deceased's estate and allow the child(ren) of the deceased person to apply to the Courts to have provision made for them out of the estate.

The following paragraphs outline the manner in which they are applied by this Department.

Rules of Intestacy

The rules provide as follows:

Rules of Intestacy
Surviving Relative Distribution of the Estate
Husband/Civil Partner and issue Two-thirds to husband/Civil Partner, remainder to issue
Wife/Civil Partner and issue Two-thirds to wife/Civil Partner, remainder to issue
Husband/Civil Partner only Entire estate to husband/civil partner
Wife/ Civil Partner Only Entire estate to wife/civil partner
Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters One half to each parent
Father, Brothers and Sisters Entire estate to father.
Mother, Brothers and Sisters Entire estate to mother
Brothers and Sisters Equal shares to all – Children of a deceased brother/sister receive their parent's share.
Nephews and Nieces Equal shares to all

Assessment of Means In Intestacy Cases

The above rules are applied in cases where a claimant is entitled to an intestacy share in an estate. If the claimant is in sole beneficial occupation of the estate, (i.e. a farm or other business), and does not give any of the income to any other person who would be entitled to an intestacy share, the income received is to be assessed in full against the claimant.

Testacy

Where a person dies on or after 1st January 1967 the following rules apply whether the will was made before or after 01.01.1967.

  • If the deceased person leaves a spouse or civil partner and no children, spouse or civil partner is legally entitled to one half of the estate.
  • If the deceased person leaves a spouse or civil partner and children, the spouse or civil partner will be entitled to one third of the estate.

The legal right of the spouse or civil partner is subject to the following:

  • The legal right of the spouse or civil partner has priority over all bequests in the Will, unless that right has been renounced in writing by a pre-nuptial agreement or during the marriage.
  • If a bequest to a spouse or civil partner is not described as being in addition to the spouse's or civil partner's legal right, the bequest shall be taken as being in part or full satisfaction of that legal right.
  • If there is a bequest to a spouse or civil partner in a will the spouse or civil partner may elect to accept either that bequest or the legal right. If the spouse or civil partner fails to elect either (s)he will be entitled to his/her bequest but not his/her legal right. If the spouse or civil partner elects to take his /her legal right (s)he can elect to take any bequest in the will as being in part or full satisfaction of that legal right.
  • The spouse or civil partner must so elect within six months of being notified in writing of that right by the Personal Representative or within twelve months after the will has been proved, whichever is the later.
  • Where a deceased person has made permanent provision for his/her spouse or civil partner during the deceased person's lifetime before 1st January 1967, other than periodical payments for maintenance made during the deceased person's lifetime, such a provision shall be offset against the legal right of the spouse or civil partner.
Assessment Of Means In Testacy Cases

Where a Will has been proved or is in the process of being proven, it should be established whether the estate is to be administered in accordance with the terms of the Will or on the basis of the legal right of the person involved. The means should be assessed accordingly.

Where a Will has not been proved, the claimant's means should be assessed in accordance with the terms of the will. The case should be re-investigated in due course to determine whether the claimant's share of the estate was in accordance with the terms of the Will or on the basis of the claimant's legal entitlement and the means revised if warranted.

If a Will is unproven, but a claimant is in beneficial occupation of the estate, the means are to be assessed on the basis of the factual position.

Appropriation Of Dwelling House

If a person dies, either testate or intestate, leaving a family home in which the spouse or civil partner ordinarily resides, the spouse or civil partner may opt to appropriate the dwelling in satisfaction or partial satisfaction of his/her share of the estate. If the house is insufficient to satisfy the claimant's share s/he may also appropriate the share(s) of any child(ren) under 18 years to satisfy the deficiency.

This appropriation applies to a house used solely for domestic purposes, and not for commercial purposes, except with the consent of the Court. The right must be exercised within six months after the Personal Representative has notified the spouse or civil partner of the right or within twelve months after Probate or Administration has been taken out whichever is the later.

Following such an appropriation, the spouse or civil partner becomes the sole owner of the dwelling house.


SECTION 4 - ASSESSING 'OTHER PENSIONS'

This section applies to the following Schemes:

  • State Pension (Non-Contributory),
  • Blind Pension,
  • Widow's , Widower's Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension,
  • Guardian's Payment (non-Contributory),
  • One-Parent Family Payment (OFP),
  • Carer's Allowance
    (Rule 5 of Part III of the Third Schedule applies)
  • and Rent Allowance
    (Article 8 of S.I. 208 of 1991 applies).
What is meant by 'other pension'?

'Other Pension' means, any pension OTHER than one paid by this Department, for example:-

  1. A pension paid by the Government, for example, a Civil Service Pension
  2. Pensions paid by another Government, for example, British or US Retirement Pension.
  3. Pensions paid by State Companies, for example, ESB, CIE.
  4. Pensions paid by Local Authorities, for example, a County Council or Corporation.
  5. Pensions paid by a private company.

Rule 5 of Part 3 of the 3rd Schedule applies when one of the above Social Welfare payments is in payment to a person who also has another pension, and operates as follows:

When the "other pension" is increased (at any date following the date of first entitlement to the Social Welfare payment), any portion of the increase in the 'other pension' (or the combined increases where more than one has taken place), which when assessed as means would result in a reduction in the Social Welfare pension/allowance of an amount greater than the increase in the "other pension", cannot be assessed as means.

EXAMPLE:

A person has a State Pension with a means assessment from another pension of €24.00 weekly (placing the person in the €22.60 to €25.10 means bracket). On recalculation of means following (say) an increase of €2.00 per week in the other pension, his/her means for State Pension will be limited to €25.10 weekly as raising the assessment above the €25.10 means bracket would result in reducing the OAP by €2.50 per week. The amount of 90c weekly deducted from means for this purpose will also be ignored if any question of reduction arises in future assessments.

NOTE 1: Rule 5 only applies to prevent a reduction in payment greater than the increase in other pension. If the pensioner applies for an increase in pension (because other means have decreased), the full amount of the other pension would have to be taken into account when considering entitlement to any such increase.

NOTE 2: Rule 5 does not prevent a reduction of an equal amount.

Where several increases in the other pension have occurred since last assessment, those increases should be aggregated in the calculation of the current application of the rule. Where a person has more than one other pension or a couple both have other pensions, the increases should be aggregated.

If there are other means, e.g. capital, any changes in such other means up to the date of increase in the other pension should be calculated first, and the application of this rule considered only in the light of the increase in other pension.

Loss of Living Alone allowance, over 80 allowance, and/or Increase for Qualified Adult where appropriate should be included in the calculation of the loss in State Pension.

For instance, when an increase in "other pension" is greater than the basic rate of social welfare pension/allowance in payment, termination of the social welfare payment arises for consideration. However, if the combined amount of the social welfare payment plus allowances (e.g. Living Alone allowance, over 80 allowance, Qualified Adult Increase) is greater than the increase in "other pension", the minimum rate of the appropriate social welfare payment is then payable plus the relevant allowances.

Where the 'other pension' is paid in another currency, and there is a change in the rate of the 'other pension', the exchange rate used is the rate applicable in the quarter in which the change occurs, or the exchange rate of the succeeding quarter if this is a more favourable rate. The effect of such fluctuations in exchange rates, combined with the change in 'other pension' may result in an overall increase (or decrease) in means, which is assessed accordingly.

Where a person loses entitlement to a State Pension (etc.) and subsequently requalifies (perhaps because of Budget increases, or because of the loss of another element of means), the full amount of the "other pension" is assessable.
Rule 5 only protects a pension that is already in payment.

Assessment in the case of couples

Rule 5 is applied identically to both members of a couple. For example, each member of a married couple \ civil partnership \ co-habiting couple is getting a State Pension (non-contributory) based upon individual weekly means of €24.00 (i.e. combined means of €48.00 divided in two). If the combined weekly means increase by €4.00, the actual means of each member will increase to €26.00. However, due to the application of Rule 5, their individual weekly means will be limited to €25.10, thereby necessitating no change in their weekly rate of State Pension (non-contributory).

On the death of one member of a couple, the net amount of other pension assessable against the surviving member at that date is calculated. Any subsequent increases in the 'other pension' are added to that net figure, in order to establish assessable means.

Last modified:30/12/2013
 

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