Internal Guidelines used in processing claims
Table of Contents
Part 1: Entitlement
- Description of Scheme
- Information Leaflet
Qualifying Conditions in Summary
Qualifying Conditions - in Detail
- Widow/Widower/Surviving Civil Partner
- Prisoner's spouse/civil partner
- Main care and charge of a child
- Marriage/Civil Partnership/Remarriage/New Civil Partnership
- Means Test
- Transitional Payment
- Habitual Residence Condition (HRC)
- Application of HRC Condition to EEA workers
- Family Benefits
- Absence from the State
- Late Claims
- Basic rate
- Increase for a qualified child
Options for One-Parent Family Payment Recipients
- Back to Work Enterprise Allowance
- Back to Work Allowance
- Community Employment
- Back to Education Programmes
- Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)
- Reduced rate PRSI
- Family Income Supplement
- Fuel allowance
- Widowed Parent Grant
- After Death Benefits
- Carer's Allowance
- State Pension Non-Contributory
- Other Benefits available from relevant Health Service Executive
- Increase for a qualified child
Part 2: Claims, Investigation and Decision Procedures
- Time Limits on Making of a claim
- Late Claims
- Investigation of Claim
- Investigation by Social Welfare Inspectors
Part 3: Procedures Following Award
- Payment Date
- Payment Methods
- Electronic Information Transfer (EIT)
- Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT)
- Duration of Payment
- Claim Maintenance
- Lost/Stolen/Card/Cheque action
- Payment to an agent
- Change of Post Office, Method of Payment or change of address
- Absence from the State
- Direct Provision Accomodation
- Illness/Hospital Stays
- Certification of ongoing entitlement
- Suspension/Revocation/Reduction of Payment
- Credited Contributions
Guidelines on Efforts Condition for Separated Claimants
- Requirement to make appropriate efforts to obtain maintenance
- Spouse/Civil Partner working and current address known
- Whereabouts of spouse/civil partner not known
- If claimant thinks spouse/civil partner is resident in another country
- The Efforts Condition is regarded as being satisfied
- The Efforts Condition is regarded as not being satisfied
Guidelines on Efforts Condition for Unmarried Claimants
Part 1: Entitlement
Description of Scheme:
One-Parent Family Payment is a means-tested payment which is made to men or women who are caring for a child or children without the support of a partner.
The scheme was introduced on 2 January 1997, and replaced the following schemes:
- Lone Parent's Allowance
- Deserted Wife's Benefit
(Deserted Wife's Benefit is still paid to those who had qualified for such payment before 2 January 1997 - see also " Deserted Wife's Benefit" guideline for more general information.
One-Parent Family Payment - SW 82
The main provisions relating to One-Parent Family Payment are contained in:
- Part 3, Chapter 7, of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended.
- Chapter 3, Articles 124 to 130 of Part III of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2007 (S.I. No, 142 of 2007) as amended.
The scheme is administered by the Social Welfare Services Office, Department of Social Protection, College Road, Sligo. However, processing of new claims is dealt with by Social Welfare Local Offices. All new claims should be sent to nearest Local Office.
All new claims should be sent to nearest Social Welfare Local Office with the exception of Buncrana office.
New claims for Buncrana should be sent to One Parent Family Payment, Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.
Qualifying Conditions in Summary:
The person must be either -
- widowed (includes a person divorced from spouse prior to spouse's death and not remarried or person whose civil partnership has been dissolved prior to civil partner's death and who has not registered in a new civil partnership)
- separated (or divorced)
- unmarried (including one whose marriage has been annulled or civil partnership has been dissolved) or
- a prisoner's spouse/civil partner
The person must also:
- have the main care and charge of at least one child who is residing with them
- for person applying for One-Parent Family Payment after 1 January 2009, the person applying for One-Parent Family Payment must be a ‘qualified parent'. A ‘qualified parent' means a widow, a widower, surviving civil partner, a separated spouse, a separated civil partner, an unmarried person, or a person whose spouse/civil partner has been committed in custody to a prison or place of detention for not less than 6 months, who is a parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of at least 1 qualified child, who normally resides with that person. (Section 13 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 refers.
- not be cohabiting (that is in a relationship and living with another person of the opposite or same sex - see below re cohabitation)
- not have gross earnings from insurable employment or self-employment exceeding €425.00 (increased from €293.00 to €375.00 effective from 29 May 2006 - SI 206 of 2006; increased to €400.00 effective from 3 May 2007 - SI 219 of 2007; and increased to €425 effective from 8 May 2008) per week.
(Note – Effective from 8 May 2008, in assessing earnings up to the income limit of €425, a disregard will apply for PRSI, Superannuation, Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA) together with additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) to PRSA, and trade union subscriptions made by the customer.)
- satisfy a means test
- be habitually resident in the State (Please see separate guideline Habitual Residence Condition and section below regarding application of HRCto EEA workers)
Qualifying Conditions - in Detail
Where a person has been married or registered in a civil partnership more than once, the condition of being widowed/ a surviving civil partner relates only to the last spouse/civil partner of the person. However, a person who is divorced from his/her spouse or their civil partnership has been dissolved prior to death of spouse/civil partner, being a divorce or dissolution that is recognised as valid in the State, and had not remarried or entered into another civil partnership will qualify as a widow/er /surviving civil partner provided all other qualifying conditions are satisfied.
For a person to qualify as a separated or divorced person or a person whose civil partnership has been dissolved s/he must:
- have been living apart from his/her spouse/civil partner for at least 3 months
- have made and continue to make appropriate efforts to get maintenance from his/her spouse/civil partner where civil partner is the parent of the child/ren
(See Appendix 1 for what constitutes "efforts")
See " Liability to Maintain Family" guideline for more general information.
A person who is unmarried will be required to make efforts to seek maintenance in respect of the child/ren from the other parent of the child/ren. These efforts need not be made at the initial claim stage but continued entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment is conditional on efforts being made to seek maintenance from the other parent of the child/ren. This requirement is applicable to new claims received in the Department on or after 1 May 1997.
(See Appendix 2 for what constitutes "efforts")
A person who claims One-Parent Family Payment is required to seek maintenance from her/his spouse /civil partner where civil partner is the parent of the child/ren or the other parent of the child. Maintenance payments are assessed as means. Vouched housing costs of up to €95.23 per week (rent or mortgage) 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.
See " Liability to Maintain Family" and " Means Assessment" guidelines for more general information and detail on the assessment of maintenance as means.
Prisoner's spouse/civil partner
To qualify as a prisoner's spouse/civil partner, the other spouse/civil partner must:
- have been sentenced for a term of imprisonment/detention of at least 6 months
- have been in custody for at least 6 months without being sentenced.
Main care and charge of a child
A person must have the main care and charge of a child(ren). Generally speaking this means that a person must show that the child spends the greater amount of time (weekly) with the claimant. This aspect may have to be verified by a Social Welfare Inspector of the Department. Under current legislation One-Parent Family Payment is not payable where a couple have joint equal custody of a child/ren.
With effect from 1 January 2009, an applicant for one-parent family payment must be the parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of at least 1 qualified child, who normally resides with him/her.
One-Parent Family Payment is not payable to a person who is in a relationship and living with another person of the opposite or same sex.
See " Cohabitation" guideline for more general information.
Marriage/Civil Partnership & Remarriage/New Civil Partnership:
If a person in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment, marries/is in civil partnership or remarries/is in a new civil partnership, entitlement to payment ceases as and from the date of marriage/civil partnership or remarriage/new civil partnership.
For One-Parent Family Payment purposes, means (e.g. income from savings, investments, property etc) are calculated in accordance with Part 3 of Schedule 3 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended.
Earnings are assessed in accordance with Part 3 of Schedule 3 of the Social Welfare ( Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended.
All earnings are assessed as * gross earnings. Earnings of less than 110.00 a week are excluded from the assessment of means. Where weekly earnings exceed €110.00 a week but are less than €425.00 per week (increased from 293.00 to 375.00 from 29 May 2006 SI 206 of 2006 and increase to €400.00 per week from 3 May 2007 SI 219 of 2007, and increased to 425.00 per week from 8 May 2008), these earnings are assessed as means.
The amount of earnings you are allowed to have without affecting your payment has been reduced from €130.00 to €110.00 per week from 1 January, 2013.
Effective from 8 May 2008, a person who has gross income of less than 425.00 is entitled to a disregard of superannuation contributions, social insurance contributions, health contributions and trade union subscriptions for the purposes of determining entitlement to One parent Family payment.
Any person with earnings of more than 425.00 per week will not qualify for One Parent Family Payment.
* For this purpose in the context of employment "gross" is taken to mean all payments in the form of wages including bonuses, shift allowances, overtime etc. but excluding travel and subsistence allowances that are a reimbursement of expenses incurred.
From 1 January 2012, the temporary payment of half-rate OFP, for existing and new clients, where the recipient's earnings exceed €425 per week is no longer available.
See " Means Assessment" guideline for more general information.
A One-Parent Family Payment is not payable while a person is in a relationship and cohabiting with someone of the opposite or same sex.
See " Cohabitation" guideline for more general information.
Habitual Residence Condition
From 1 May 2004, an Habitual Residence Condition has been in force for One-Parent family Payment. Full details are given in the guidelines Habitual Residence Condition.
Application of the HRC Condition to EEA Workers
A Deciding Officer must have due regard to EU law where it is applicable. In general EU law takes precedence over National Law.
One-Parent Family Payment has been classified as a Family Benefit with effect from 5 May 2005 (EU Regulations 1408/71 as amended by 647/2005). The effect of this is that an EEA national, who is employed or self employed in Ireland and paying Irish PRSI, does not have to satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition. Such entitlement continues where the person becomes unemployed and is in receipt of Irish Jobseeker's Benefit.
These entitlements are payable even if his/her children are habitually resident in another EEA State. The amount of Family Benefits payable by the Department of Social Protection will depend on whether there is entitlement to Family Benefits from another EEA State in respect of the same children.
See separate Guidelines on an Overview of EU Social Security Regulations .
Absence from the State:
One-Parent Family Payment is not payable to anyone residing outside the State, except for EEA nationals who are working in Ireland and entitled under the provisions of ( EU) Regulation 647/2005 (Miscellaneous Amendments 2003) amending Regulations 1408/71 and 574/72.
A person may however have reasonable absences up to a maximum of 3 weeks outside the State for the purposes of holidays, attending a funeral etc. and receive payment. The Department must be notified in advance of the intention to leave the State and the reason for the absence.
See Part 3 and " Payment Methods" guideline regarding payment arrangements while absent from the State.
A person is disqualified from receiving the personal rate of payment of One-Parent Family Payment for any period during which he/she is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody. Increase for a qualified child may be paid to another person in certain circumstances.
See " Imprisonment" Guidelines.
See also Part 3 below and " Payment Methods" guideline for more detail on payment arrangements while imprisoned.
If a person fails to make a claim within the prescribed time, s/he will be disqualified from receiving payment in respect of any period prior to the date of claim. This also applies to the making of a claim for any increase in payment or allowances e.g. claim for increase in payment in respect of an additional child.
However, where a person can prove to the satisfaction of a Deciding or Appeals Officer that entitlement existed and that there was good cause for the delay in making a claim to One-Parent Family Payment, payment may be made for a period up to 6 months before the date of claim.
Also, where a claim for payment or an increase in payment is made outside the prescribed time, the period for which payment is made can be extended where the delay in making the claim is due to -
- incorrect information being given by the Department;
- the person being so incapacitated that s/he was unable to pursue the claim
- a force majeure
See ' Claims and Late Claims' guideline for more information
One-Parent Family Payment is made up of a personal rate and increase for a qualified child. The personal rate depends on a person's means/income i.e. rate of payment reduces as means/income increase. See SW 19 for current rates of payment.
See also Part 3 re duration of payment.
Age limit of youngest child on OPFP claims
From January 2012 onwards, the age limit of 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.
The new arrangements will apply as follows depending on whether your claim was made:
- Prior to 27 April 2011;
- Between 27 April 2011 and 02 May 2012; or
- From 03 May 2012 onwards.
The table below sets out the details.
Payment of the One-Parent Family Payment will cease if the youngest child on your claim reaches the age specified in the year shown in the table below.
||Payment continues up to age|
|Date of application
04 July 2013
03 July 2014
02 July 2015
|1. If your claim commenced before 27 April 2011
|2. If your claim commenced between 27 April 2011 and 2nd May 2012
|3. If your claim starts after 3rd May 2012
If you have an entitlement to OFP based on the age of the youngest child in the family, payment of an Increase for a Qualified Child will continue for the older children in the family until they reach 18 years or 22 years if they are in full-time education.
Extension of youngest child age in certain circumstances
Special provisions have been put in place for customers who:
- are in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) - in these cases OFP will remain in payment until the youngest child reaches 16 years.
- have been recently bereaved – in these circumstances OFP will be payable for two years from the date of death of the spouse/civil partner/co-habitant or until the youngest child reaches age 18).
Application of child age provisions to former customers who reapply for OFP
An existing customer, who stops claiming OFP before 03 July 2015:
- To participate in the Back to Education Scheme; Or
- Because his/her earnings exceed the qualifying earnings limit for the scheme,
can reapply for OFP based on the youngest child condition which applied at the time of their original application.
See also " Dependants" guideline for more detail on increases for a qualified child.
Options for One-Parent Family Payment Recipients
Back to Work Enterprise Allowance
Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is available to persons in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment who become self employed. This allowance which is paid instead of One-Parent Family Payment is subject to certain conditions, including that they have been in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment for 12 months.
The allowance is payable on a reducing scale over a two year period i.e. 100% of a person's social welfare payment in this case One Parent Family Payment (OFP) in year one and 75% in year two. Applicants must be setting up a self-employment business that has been approved in writing, in advance, by a Local Integrated Development Company or a Facilitator from this Department,
A person in receipt of Back to Work Enterprise Allowance may retain secondary benefits in payment with One-Parent Family Payment. Secondary benefits are Fuel Allowance from this Department. Supplementary Welfare Allowance payments such as Rent Allowance, Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance and Medical Card may also be payable.
See " Back to Work Enterprise Allowance" guidelines for more detail.
Back to Work Allowance
In the Supplementary Budget April 2009 it was announced that the Back to Work Allowance scheme is closed to new applicants from 1 May 2009.
Community Employment is a training/employment scheme administered by FAS. One-Parent Family Payment recipients are eligible to participate, subject to certain conditions. One condition is that the person must have been in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment for 52 weeks. Weekly income from Community Employment is assessable as means. However, as the first €110.00 a week is disregarded as income, One-Parent Family Payment is generally payable in addition to income from Community Employment. Secondary benefits ( as outlined above) may be retained.
New participants on Community Employment Schemes from 16 January 2012 will not be able to claim a social welfare payment at the same time. In these cases, an additional €20 per week that is paid to all CE participants will apply.
A person should contact their local FAS office to apply for inclusion on a Community Employment scheme.
Back to Education Programme
Persons in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment are eligible, subject, to certain conditions, to participate in the Back to Education Allowance scheme. The Back to Education allowance is an educational opportunities scheme for persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who wish to pursue an approved full-time second or third level course of education in an approved college leading to a recognised qualification. From January 2013 participants will continue on their current rate of payment, rather than being increased to maximum rate as in the past. The annual cost of education allowance is no longer payable from the start of 2013. Also, participants may continue to receive any secondary benefits to which they otherwise have an entitlement.
If under 21, they must be 2 years out of education to qualify (confirmation required). In general a person must be over the age of 21 and in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment for at least 3 months (in the case of approved second level courses) or at least 12 months (in the case of approved third level courses).
In the case of participants who qualified from an OFP claim received after 27th April 2011, there is provision for continued payment of BTEA and IQC for people until the completion of the course of study if the youngest child reaches 14 years during the course of study.
As the allowance is not means tested a person may work to supplement their income. The BTEA application form BTE1 should be made as soon as a place has been secured on an approved second or third level course.
See "Back to Education Allowance" guideline for further detail.
Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)
This scheme is administered by the Department of Education and Science and is operated through VECs. To participate, a person must be in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment for 6 months and be at least 21 years of age. Application should be made to the local VEC for a place on a scheme.
Payment of One-Parent Family Payment will be made in the normal way while attending a VTOS course. Secondary benefits may also be retained (as above).
See " VTOS" guideline for further detail.
Reduced rate PRSI
Recipients of One-Parent Family Payment who are insurably employed or self-employed pay the reduced rate Class 2 PRSI contribution. See " Pay-Related Social Insurance" guideline for more detail.
Family Income Supplement
Where a person in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment is working for an employer and on low income, s/he may be entitled to this supplement in addition to One-Parent Family Payment. Certain conditions apply in relation to hours of work, duration of employment. The One-Parent Family Payment is assessable as means.
See " Family Income Supplement" guideline for more general information.
Payable for a 26 week period from October to April if a person is living alone or with dependent children or other categories of exempted persons. Only one Fuel allowance per household is payable. A person must apply for the allowance.
See " SWI/Fuel Schemes" guideline for more general information.
Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Parent Grant
A Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Parent Grant is a once-off payment designed to assist with income support needs of a widow/er or surviving civil partner immediately following the death of her/her spouse or civil partner.
The scheme was introduced in April 2000 and applies only to widow/ers who are widowed on or after 1 December 1999 and surviving civil partners (since 01 January 2011) who have at least one qualified child.
To qualify a widow/er must have an entitled to an increase for a qualified child. For the purposes of the Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Parent Grant a qualified child is
- a child up to the age of 18, or
- a child between the age of 18 and 22, who is in full-time education.
After Death Benefits:
On the death of a qualified child, payment continues for six weeks at the rate in payment at the date of death. Notification of the date of death should be given to the Department at the earliest possible date.
(See separate guideline on Payment Methods for fuller details)
See also separate guideline on Bereavement Grant. Entitlement to this grant is based on social insurance contributions.
On the death of a One-Parent Family Payment recipient, Bereavement Grant may also be payable as above. Notification of the date of death should be given to the Department at the earliest possible date.
From 27 September 2007 a person who is claiming One Parent Family Payment and who is providing full time care to another person may apply for Carer's Allwoance and retain his/her One Parent Family Payment in full. If s/he satisfies the conditions for Carer's Allowance, Carer's Allowance will be paid at 50% of the personal rate s/he would qualify for if s/he were not in receipt of another social welfare payment. S/he will also be eligible for Household Benefits and a Free Travel Pass.
See " Carer's Allowance" Guideline for more information
State Pension (Non-Contributory)
Since the introduction of the State Pension on 29 September 2006 payment of One-Parent Family Payment will no longer be made to persons aged 66 years and over. One-Parent Family Payment Customers will instead be entitled to apply for the State Pension (Non-Contributory) as appropriate.
Customers will be advised in advance of reaching 66 years of the fact that their One-Parent Family Payment is being stopped and invited to apply for State Pension (Non-Contricutory) as appropriate.
Other Benefits available from the relevant Health Service Executive
A person may also qualify for:
- Back to School Clothing and Footwear
- Exceptional Needs Payments
- Medical Card
- Rent or Mortgage Supplement
See relevant Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA....) guidelines for further details.
One-Parent Family Payment is not payable in addition to other social welfare payments (other than with Child Benefit) except in the following circumstances:
(i) A person in receipt of the maximum rate of One-Parent Family Payment (who is not also in receipt of Blind Pension) may be paid one of the following payments at half the personal rate provided the conditions for receipt of such payment is satisfied:
- Adoptive Benefit
- Illness Benefit (for up to 15 months)
- Health and Safety Benefit
- Injury Benefit
- Maternity Benefit
- Jobseeker's Benefit (for up to 15 months)
- Incapacity Supplement (for up to 15 months)
(ii) Where a person is in receipt of reduced rate One-Parent Family Payment, s/he may also be paid one of the above benefits, provided that the total payment does not exceed the sum of the maximum rate of One-Parent Family Payment combined with half the personal rate of benefit concerned.
Note: Where a person was in receipt of Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement in addition to One-Parent Family Payment on 5 April 1990, s/he continues to be entitled to such benefit or supplement until the end of the period of incapacity for work.
From February 2012, if a customer becomes eligible for Jobseeker's Benefit from 2 February, Illness Benefit from 1 February, or Incapacity Supplement from 3 February, s/he can only receive the equivalent rate of one social welfare payment. S/he will not be able to get OFP and a half-rate payment from the other scheme. However, the concurrent payment of OFP with Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit, Health & Safety Benefit continues.
(iii) Family Income Supplement may be payable to employed persons on low income in addition to One-Parent Family Payment. However, One-Parent Family Payment is assessable as means.
(iv) Blind Pension is payable in addition to One-Parent Family Payment to age 66, subject to certain conditions being satisfied. Where a person is in receipt of Blind Pension and One-Parent Family Payment, the following benefits are not payable:
- Adoptive Benefit,
- Illness Benefit,
- Health and Safety Benefit,
- Injury Benefit,
- Maternity Benefit,
- Jobseeker's Benefit,
- Incapacity Supplement
(v) Disablement Benefit at the personal rate is payable in addition to One-Parent Family Payment.
See " Overlapping Payments" guideline for more general information.
Increase for a qualified child
- is only payable once in respect of a child and is not payable to a person's spouse/civil partner on another social welfare payment. There is no half rate increase for a qualified child on One-Parent Family Payment.
Part 2: Claims, Investigation and Decision Procedures:
There is an onus on a person, under social welfare legislation, to apply for One-Parent Family Payment if s/he believes that s/he has an entitlement.
The One-Parent Family Payment claim form OFP 1 should be completed with all relevant questions answered. The form should be signed by the claimant in all cases. Where the claimant is unable to sign the claim form, his/her mark instead of signature must be witnessed.
The person should state his/her Personal Public Service (PPS) Number. However, if s/he has no PPS number, a PPS number will be allocated by the Department.
The claimant should forward relevant documentation, as indicated below, with signed claim form. However, the documentation may be sent to the Department after the initial claim is made, if not immediately available. This may cause some delay in processing the claim as a Deciding Officer may not be in a position to decide on entitlement until all relevant documentation has been received in the Department.
An acknowledgement of claim is issued on receipt of the claim. The claim reference is quoted and the claimant is asked to quote same in any future contact with the Department regarding One-Parent Family Payment.
Depending on financial circumstances, a person may claim Supplementary Welfare Allowance while awaiting a decision on entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment.
A claimant to One-Parent Family Payment is required, under social welfare legislation, to produce certificates, documents, information and evidence required, including Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Civil Partnership Registration Certificate, spouse/civil partners' Birth and Death Certificates ( if appropriate), means details (e.g. bank statements, P60, farm details, etc.) and any other supporting documents relevant to the claim.
It is an offence for a person to knowingly make a false or misleading statement or to provide documents or information which s/he knows to be false in some respect for the purpose of obtaining or establishing entitlement to pension, or pension at a higher rate. A person found guilty of such an offence could be liable to a fine of 1269.74 or a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months or both. Any overpayment of pension may also be repayable to the Department.
Time Limits on Making of a claim
A claim to One-Parent Family Payment should be made within three months of the date of entitlement as follows:
Widowed/Surviving Civil Partner
within 3 months of spouse's death
within 3 months of the birth of the child
within 6 months of the date of separation from spouse (i.e. within 3 months of the first date of entitlement). However, a claim can be accepted for processing 6 weeks after separation but no entitlement can be established until 3 months of separation have elapsed
Prisoner's spouse/civil partner for 6 months
date when spouse/civil partner has been detained in legal custody for 6 months without being sentenced
date when prison sentence of at least 6 months duration starts
A person is disqualified for payment of One-Parent Family Payment for any period before the date on which the claim is made and entitlement exists. Failure to claim One-Parent Family Payment at the appropriate time may result in loss of payment.
However the payment may be backdated for up to six months where "good cause" is shown for the delay in making the claim, provided the claimant can prove to the satisfaction of a Deciding or Appeals Officer that s/he satisfied the qualifying conditions for receipt of payment during that period. The same procedure also applies to claims for increases for child dependants and other allowances. Good cause may be shown to exist where wrong information was received from the Department or ill health prevented a person making a claim to pension at the correct time.
Further backdating may be examined on a statutory basis in specific circumstances. See Section 4.2 to 4.5 of the separate guidelines on ' Claims and Late Claims'
See also " Claims and Late Claims" guideline for more information on late claims and other circumstances in which backdated payments or allowances may be made. This guideline also deals with the circumstances in which extra statutory payments may be made and the circumstances in which payment for loss of purchasing power may be made.
Investigation of Claim
Investigation by Social Welfare Inspectors
Claims decided by a Deciding Officer without referral to Social Welfare Inspector for review should subsequently be sent for review by a Social Welfare Inspector at an early date.
The majority of claims are referred to a Social Welfare Inspector prior to decision by a Deciding Officer, in order to establish if the conditions of entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment are fulfilled. Depending on the circumstances, a Social Welfare Inspector's report should address issues such as means/income, divorce, dissolution of civil partnership, separation, child dependency, maintenance arrangements, housing costs, household composition, possible cohabitation, and where appropriate inspection of relevant certificates.
The spouse/civil partner if the parent of the child/ren or other parent of the child may also be visited by a Social Welfare Inspector in order to review child dependency and maintenance arrangements.
When all the relevant information is available the claim is referred to a Deciding Officer for decision.
See " Liability to Maintain Family" guideline and " SWI/One Parent Family" for more detail.
Claims are decided by Deciding Officers appointed by the Minister under Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended. Deciding Officers are independent in the exercise of their function in deciding on entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment. See " Decision-Making" guideline for more general information.
A written notification of the decision of the Deciding Officer is issued to the claimant. When a claim is disallowed or allowed at a rate other than the maximum rate of payment, the claimant is given an explanation of the reason for the disallowance or partial award. Details of means/earnings assessed are shown.
Claimants are advised of their right of appeal against a Deciding Officer's decision. The appeal must be lodged within 21 days of the date of notification of the decision on their claim.
Any decision of a Deciding Officer may be subsequently revised by a Deciding Officer in the light of new information or evidence.
Where new information is made available as part of an appeal by the claimant, a Deciding Officer may revise a decision on entitlement, if it is to the advantage of the claimant. There is also a right of appeal against a revised decision. See " Decision-Making" guideline for more information regarding revised decisions.
All award notifications advise the claimant of circumstances which could affect continued entitlement to the payment and ask the claimant to advise the Department of any such changes in circumstances. Certificates (birth, marriage, civil partnership etc.) are also returned at this stage.
If a claimant fails to furnish all documentation necessary to establish entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment, or fails to attend for interview with a Social Welfare Inspector, a determination cannot be made on the claim in the absence of the information/documentation outstanding.
In this event, the claimant's claim is closed. Any future claim will only be considered from the date of re-application.
The closure of a claim in these circumstances may not be appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Any person who is dissatisfied with the decision may appeal to a Senior Deciding Officer within One-Parent Family Payment Section.
If a claimant is not satisfied with the decision of a Deciding Officer s/he may appeal directly to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. An Appeals Officer may decide the matter summarily or may deal with the case by way of an oral hearing.
A statement is prepared on the facts relied on by the Deciding Officer in the making of a decision on entitlement to pension and on the extent to which the facts and contentions advanced by the appellant are admitted or disputed. This statement is put before the Chief Appeals Officer.
A person may be interviewed by a Social Welfare Inspector regarding any facts or evidence put forward in support of an appeal where the facts/evidence conflict with previous statements made by the claimant.
Part 3: Procedures Following Award
One-Parent Family Payment is payable weekly in advance on a Thursday (or Friday in the case of widow/ers/surviving civil partner). Where the day from which payment takes effect is a day in the week other than Thursday/Friday, the payment takes effect as from the next following Thursday/Friday. The same procedure applies where there is a change in the rate of payment.
There are two methods of payment:
Electronic Information Transfer ( EIT)
Payment may be made by way of a Social Welfare Services Card ( swipe card) which can be used at a Post Office nominated by the claimant.
Electronic Fund Transfer
Payment may be made by EFT, paid weekly directly into a chosen Bank or Building Society Savings Account.
Any arrears of payment due may be included in the normal method of payment or paid by cheque.
See " Payment Methods" guideline for more general information.
Duration of Payment:
One-Parent Family Payment is payable for as long as a person continues to satisfy the qualifying conditions and is not disqualified for any reason. Once the last qualified child on your claim reaches the relevant age (see table above) both personal payment and increase for a qualified child cease simultaneously. The claimant is advised in advance that the payment will cease and advised of other payments for which he/she may qualify.
In the case of prisoner's spouse/civil partner payment continues for 4 weeks following release of prisoner from imprisonment.
Where a qualified child dies, payment continues for six weeks at the rate of payment at the date of death. A Bereavement Grant may also be payable. See " Payment Methods" guideline for more detail on after death payments. Also, see " Bereavement Grant" guideline for more general information.
Stop dates are inserted on the Department's computer system as appropriate e.g. where there is a younger child in a family who satisfies the age requirements of the scheme, a to stop is applied to the payment of an increase for a an older child who reaches 18 and is not continuing in full time education.
When a Social Welfare Services card or a cheque from the Department is lost or stolen it should be reported to the Department immediately. The Gardai and the Post Office of payment should also be notified immediately of any such loss or theft.
See " Payment Methods" guideline for more detail.
Change of Post Office, Method of Payment or change of address
The Department should be notified as soon as possible by phone or in writing. See " Payment Methods" guideline for more detail.
Absence from the State
One-Parent Family Payment is not payable outside of the State subject to (EC) Regulation 647/2005 (Miscellaneous Amendments 2003) amending Regulations 1408/71 and 574/72.
A person should notify the Department if leaving the State and payment will be suspended for the period of the absence abroad. Payment may be made in certain circumstances for a short period (up to 3 weeks) during which a person is temporarily outside the State e.g. on holidays etc. See " Payment Methods" guideline for more detail.
Direct Provision Accommodation
Where a client resides in accommodation provided by the Directorate for Asylum Seeker Services of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Direct Provision Accommodation), the customer is paid a designated rate of Supplementary Welfare Allowance by the Health Service Executive.
When a customer applies for One-Parent Family Payment, the value of Direct Provision is assessed as means in determining the entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment .However, such a person would normally not satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition HRC (See Habitual Residence Condition guideline).
Where a customer subsequently leaves Direct Provision and becomes entitled to a standard Supplementary Welfare Allowance, s/he may qualify for an increased rate of One-Parent Family Payment subject to satisfying HRC.
Arrangements may be made for payment where a person is too ill to attend Post Office to cash payment. See " Payment Methods" guideline for more details.
A person is disqualified from receiving One-Parent Family Payment including any increases, for any period of penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.
There are some exceptions to this disqualification i.e. increase for a qualified child may be paid to another person. See " Payment Methods" guideline for more detail.
Certification of ongoing entitlement
Social Welfare legislation puts the onus on a person to notify the Department of any changes in circumstances which may affect entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment. Any increase in means/income must be notified to the Department in writing within 7 days of the increase.
On being notified of an award of One-Parent Family Payment, a person is issued with a list of circumstances which could affect their continued entitlement to the payment. The person is requested to advise the Department of any such changes in circumstances.
In addition, persons are advised on an ongoing basis of circumstances which must be notified to the Department as follows:
Persons paid by Electronic Information Transfer and Electronic Fund Transfer are advised once a year, by post, of the conditions of continued payment and of the circumstances and events which must be reported to the Department.
The following are some circumstances and events which may affect a person's entitlement to payment:-
- Change in claimant means/income.
- Change of address.
- Change of Post Office/Bank.
- Death of claimant or qualified child
- A qualified child no longer living or being maintained by claimant.
- Where there is a younger child in a family who satisfies the age requirements of the scheme a qualified child who reaches reaching 18 years of age (or between 18 and 22) and not continuing in full-time education.
- Imprisonment or detention of claimant or qualified child.
- Claimant or qualified child leaves the State.
- Change in household composition including the birth of an additional child
- Cohabitation with another person
- Marriage/Civil Partnership or re-marriage/new civil partnership
- If spouse/civil partner if the parent of the child/ren /other parent of child begins/resumes maintenance payments or if a Court Maintenance Order is enforced
- If spouse/civil partner returns to live with claimant
- If spouse/civil partner is released from prison (in the case of prisoner's spouse payment)
Failure to notify the Department of any of the above events may result in overpayment of One-Parent Family Payment which may be recoverable from the recipient by way of lump sum repayment or deductions from weekly payment. It may equally result in an underpayment of One-Parent Family Payment e.g. where means have reduced.
See " Overpayment Recovery" guideline and " Claims and Late Claims" guideline for more detail.
A review is initiated when the Department is notified of any change in circumstances that may affect entitlement. This review may be carried out by way of a visit from a Social Welfare Inspector or by direct correspondence or phone contact.
Periodic reviews are also initiated by the Department to confirm that the appropriate payment is being made to the appropriate person and that the qualifying conditions for receipt of One-Parent Family Payment continue to be fulfilled.
Suspension/Revocation/Reduction of Payment
Where initial enquiries with a person, including written communication, fail to establish the facts as required e.g. current or past means, current address etc. payment of One-Parent Family Payment may be suspended in whole/part until the relevant information has been provided by the claimant.
Where the facts have been established, following a review of the qualifying conditions for payment of One-Parent Family Payment, and where a Deciding Officer deems that the qualifying conditions are no longer fulfilled, the claimant will be so advised in writing. There will be a right of appeal against this decision, as referred to already in this guideline.
See also " Decision-Making" guideline for further information regarding revised decisions.
If an overpayment of One-Parent Family Payment has occurred it may be recoverable by the Department. See " Overpayment Recovery" guideline for more detail.
Credited contributions are awarded to a Lone Parent who qualified for Lone Parents Allowance or One-Parent Family Payment for the first time since October 1990 and who, immediately prior to qualifying for the receipt of these payments was in receipt of another social welfare payment which attracted credits i.e. Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance, Maternity Benefit, Illness Benefit, Health and Safety Benefit, Adoptive Benefit, Invalidity Benefit or Pre Retirement Allowance.
Credited contributions are not awarded for periods prior to the introduction of the Lone Parent Allowance scheme in October 1990.
See " Credits Award" guideline for more general information.
Efforts Guideline for Separated Lone Parents
Requirement to make appropriate efforts to obtain maintenance
One of the qualifying conditions for entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) for separated claimants is that they make appropriate efforts in the particular circumstances to obtain maintenance from their spouse. Even after award of OFP to a separated (or unmarried) person s/he may be required to make continued efforts to seek maintenance.
[NOTE: Notwithstanding these efforts obligations on individual OFP claimants, the Department may pursue the liable relatives involved directly, under the "Liability to Maintain Family" provisions of the Social Welfare Acts, for a maintenance contribution towards the OFP in payment to their spouses and/or child (ren) and to their civil partners where one civil partner who is the parent of the child/ren is living apart from the family]
The efforts obligation on OFP claimants applies as follows:
Spouse/civil partner working and current address known
If the spouse/civil partner only where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren is working and the claimant has not succeeded in obtaining maintenance from him/her the claimant should:
- approach the Local District Court Clerk with a view to taking out a maintenance summons
- attach a copy of the maintenance summons to the claim form or give a copy to the Social Welfare Inspector when s/he calls to interview him/her
- provide proof that claimant and spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) are involved in structured mediation which includes negotiations about the financial support of the claimant and qualified children
Whereabouts of spouse/civil partner unknown
If claimant does not know whereabouts of spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren), s/he may be required to provide evidence that s/he has tried to trace their spouse /civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) e.g. proof that s/he had reported him/her missing to the Gardaí
If claimant thinks spouse/civil partner is resident in another country
Claimant may be requested to ask the DSS (in the case of the UK) to help trace their spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) with a view to serving a maintenance summons, or to initiate proceedings through the Central Authority (the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform) designated in the Maintenance Act 1994, which covers reciprocal maintenance action in EU and a number of other countries.
The Efforts condition is regarded as being satisfied:
- if the separated couple is involved in a structured mediation process which addresses the spouse/civil partner's (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) liability to maintain the claimant and qualified children (for example, attending the Family Mediation Service).
- if spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) is working in this country or abroad and the claimant approaches the District Court Clerk and requests that a maintenance summons be served on him or her;
- if the claimant takes the spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) to court for maintenance
- if the claimant can't trace the spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) and has made an effort to do so, for example by reporting them as missing to the Gardaí etc.
- if the spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) is in receipt of SW payment only, the claimant is not required to take any action.
- if current income of the spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) is too low to reasonably expect that any maintenance payment can be made
- if evidence is available to prove allegations that spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) is violent and that there is a consequent risk to the claimant in the event of further contact.
The Efforts condition is regarded as not being satisfied:
- if the claimant refuses to involve themselves in mediation which could address, among other things, financial support from their spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren)
- if the claimant refuses or fails to make any efforts to trace their spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren);
- if the claimant refuses or fails to take the spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren) to court for maintenance, or varying order, where spouse/civil partner has an adequate source of income and his/her address is known;
- where inadequate or unreasonable maintenance is in payment, given the circumstances of the other spouse/civil partner (where the civil partner is the parent of the child/ren).
Appendix 2 - One-Parent Family Payment
Guidelines on Efforts Condition for Unmarried Claimants
Note: All references to he and she in these guidelines are inter-changeable where appropriate.
1. Article 10 of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) Regulations (SI 426/96) states that an unmarried person shall make "such reasonable efforts, as may be required from time to time by an officer of the Minister, to obtain maintenance from a liable relative".
2. The efforts condition is not a qualifying condition for new applicants. Unmarried claimants are not required to make efforts in order to qualify for OFP. The condition applies to new claims received after 1 May 1997, and will be applied after the payment is awarded.
3. Unmarried claimants are already asked on the claim form to state the name of the other parent of their child. Where the name of the other parent appears on a birth certificate for the child, this will be noted by the Department.
If the name of the other parent is not supplied in this way, the Social Welfare Inspector, at investigation stage, will ask the OFP applicant to name the other parent of the child. The Social Welfare Inspector will outline to the claimant the reason for asking the name of the other parent- i.e. that the other parent will become a liable relative when the OFP is in payment, and will then be required to contribute, if in a financial position to do so, towards the maintenance of the child- either directly to the claimant or to the Department.
The Social Welfare Inspector will inform the OFP claimant that she will be required to make efforts to obtain maintenance from the other parent of the child, in respect of the child, when the OFP is awarded.
The Social Welfare Inspector will also ask the OFP claimant to supply any other available relevant details about the other parent which would be necessary for subsequent follow-up action- such as his address, date of birth, PPS no., occupation, place of employment, earnings, whether he is already paying maintenance or whether he has agreed to do so.
4. When an applicant's OFP claim is awarded, the other parent of the child becomes a liable relative under Social Welfare law and may be required - depending on his/her financial circumstances - to contribute to the Department towards the cost of the OFP payable to the first parent and the child.
In situations where the liable relative pays maintenance directly to the applicant, the Department will assess that maintenance as means (subject to housing cost disregards) in deciding the rate of OFP payable.
The liable relative's liability to contribute to the Department may be offset, in whole or in part, by any maintenance he is paying directly to the other parent of the child and which is being assessed as means for the purposes of an OFP claim.
Follow up Action
5. When payment of OFP is awarded, the claimant will be notified that she is required to make efforts to seek maintenance from the other parent of their child and to inform the Department of the outcome of these efforts.
If the claimant has not already succeeded in obtaining maintenance from the other parent, following the award of the payment of the OFP, the claimant will be asked by the Department to:-
(a) Name the other parent of the child (if he is not already named), and state his date of birth, address and current employment if known,
(b) Contact the liable relative and ask him to pay maintenance in respect of the child,
(c) Forward a copy of the maintenance summons to the Department, (where claimant has already obtained a maintenance summons), or
(d) provide proof that claimant and liable relative are involved in structured mediation which includes negotiations about the financial support of the qualified child/children. Progress on these efforts will be monitored by the Department.
If such maintenance efforts are not successful, and if she has not already obtained or sought a maintenance summons, the Department may require the claimant to approach the Local District Court Clerk with a view to taking out a maintenance summons.
If the OFP recipient does not make such efforts as are reasonably required by the Department to seek maintenance, she must explain to the Department why she is not doing so.
6. The question of requiring unmarried OFP recipients to make efforts to get maintenance from the liable relative will be decided by the Department on the individual circumstances of the case, taking due account of any sensitive issues involved, such as a risk of violence towards the one-parent family involved.
However, where an OFP recipient does not co-operate in making efforts to seek maintenance when it would be feasible and reasonable to do so, she may be disqualified from receiving One-Parent Family Payment.
7. In certain cases, for example where the liable relative does not co-operate with the maintenance efforts of the OFP claimant, the Department may contact the liable relative directly concerning maintenance contributions. This may also occur if it appears that the liable relative is not contributing sufficiently in accordance with his/her current financial situation.
8. Whether by the efforts of the OFP claimant, or by direct action by the Department with the liable relative concerned, the amount of maintenance sought from the other parent will be in line with District Court maintenance norms in respect of children. The assessment of the ability of the liable relative to make such contributions will be carried out by the Department in accordance with the "Liability to Maintain Family" provisions of the Social Welfare Acts.
Retention/Destruction of Files
Documents in respect of an application for payment are retained and are not destroyed until the expiration of two complete calendar years after the year of death of the claimant. A random sample of 10% of files due to be so destroyed are retained for archival purposes in accordance with the National Archives Act.