Pre-Retirement Allowance


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From 4 July 2007 Pre-Retirement Allowance is abolished for new claims.

From the 4th July 2007, Pre-Retirement Allowance is abolished for new customers. However, customers who are already in receipt of Pre-Retirement on the 4th July 2007 will continue to receive payment as long as they satisfy the conditions for payment.

Customers who are in receipt of Pre-Retirement Allowance and have a break of up to 52 weeks in their claim may have their entitlement reinstated. Any such break of up to 52 weeks is disregarded for the purposes of linking to a previous Pre-Retirement Allowance.

There is an exception to the 52 week linking rule. Customers who were in receipt of Full Rate Carer's Allowance for more than 52 weeks may make a repeat claim for Pre-Retirement Allowance. The claim for Pre-Retirement Allowance must be made immediately following the Full Rate Carer's Allowance i.e. there must be no break between the Full Rate Carer's Allowance and the repeat Pre-Retirement Allowance Claim. Accordingly, it is only customers who were in receipt of Pre-Retirement Allowance prior to Full Rate Carer's Allowance will benefit from the exception.

Prior to the 4th July 2007 persons who were retired from the workforce were allowed 'to sign' for Pre-Retirement Credits in order to keep their record updated. This facility is no longer available to retired persons as the Pre-Retirement Allowance Scheme is abolished.

Persons who retire early may become a voluntary contributor, if they meet certain conditions. Voluntary contributions can help maintain or improve a person's pension entitlements.

Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Index

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

  • Description of scheme           
  • Legislation
  • Administration
  • Qualifying Conditions in Summary
  • Qualifying Conditions in Detail
  • Deduction of half/full Means Assessment
  • Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant Means from Insurable
  • Employment
  • Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant Means - Other Cases
  • Table Showing: Reduction of PRETA Payments by full or half means assessment
  • IQA or RIQA payable
  • Full or half rate IQC payable
  • Special Categories
  • Disqualifications
          Absence from the State
          Late Claims
          Prison
  • Rates Structure
         Increase for Qualified Adult
         Increase for Qualified Child
         Entitlement where spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is on an  Educational/Training   
         Programme
        Limitation
  • Back to Work Allowance
  • Extra Benefits
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Overlapping Provisions

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

  • Claims
  • Late Claims
  • Documentation
  • Investigation of Claim           
  • Decisions
  • Appeals

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

  • Payment
  • Duration of Payment
  • Payment on Death
  • Special Provisions
  • Maintenance
  • Re-qualifying After Return From Abroad
  • Lost Cheque Action
  • Certification of Ongoing Entitlement
  • List of changes which may effect entitlement
  • Review
  • Suspension of Payment
  • Credits           

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

DESCRIPTION OF SCHEME

Pre-retirement Allowance is a means-tested payment for people aged 55 years or over who opt to retire from the labour force and receive a weekly allowance.

Those who transfer to Pre-retirement Allowance from long-term Jobseeker's Allowance no longer have to "sign on" at their local Social Welfare Office or Signing Centre as they have retired. Those on Pre-retirement will be required to complete Declaration Form (PR39) on an annual basis requiring him/her to declare that s/he has an ongoing entitlement to Pre-retirement. S/he will also be required to declare any changes in his/her family circumstances.

The scheme was introduced in March 1990.

Legislation

The main provisions relating to Pre-retirement Allowance are in Chapter 3 of Part III of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005, and in Chapter 2 of Part III of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Payment Provisions) Regulations, 1994 (S.I 417/94) as amended by Articles 122 and 123 of SI 142 of 2007, and the SI 223 of 2007.

Social Welfare Act 1998 (Section 18) (Commencement) Order 1998 (SI No 255 of 1998). This section consolidates all changes to the Pre-retirement Allowance legislation since 1993.

1999 SW Act - Section 32 amended the limitation and Section 15 limited Pre-retirement Allowance with Farm Assist.

2000 SW Act - Section 17 changed the assessment of Capital.

2002 SW Act - Section 6 of the Social Welfare Act 2002 provides for the disregarding of Pre-Retirement Allowance for linking purposes.

Administration

Social Welfare Local Offices deal with this payment.

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN SUMMARY

To qualify for payment of Pre-retirement Allowance (PRETA) a person must:

  1. be retired
  2. be aged between 55 and 66
  3. be in receipt of unemployment payments for 390 days
    • OR
      have been in receipt of Pre-Retirement Allowance in the past 52 weeks
    • OR
      cease to be entitled to One Parent Family Payment or Carers Allowance
    • OR
      be a separated spouse/civil partner who has not engaged in employment for the preceding 15 months.
  4. satisfy a means test
  5. be living in the State

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS IN DETAIL

A. Claimant must be retired *

A claimant must not engage in insurable employment. Farmers will qualify provided their means (including the income from the farm) are below the statutory limit and they have been in receipt of long-term Jobseeker's Allowance. However, it is more beneficial for farmers to avail of the Farm Assist scheme instead of PRETA - see Guidelines titled FARM ASSIST).

B. Claimant must be aged between 55 and 66

The person must be aged 55 or over and under pension age which is currently 66.

C. Claimant must *

  • be in receipt of unemployment payments for more than 390 days (calculated as 15 months @ 6 days per week). If Jobseeker's Benefit is in payment, there must be an underlying entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance.
    OR
  • have been in receipt of Pre-Retirement Allowance in the past 52 weeks
    OR
  • cease to be entitled to one-parent family payment.

Where a person was in receipt of One Parent Family Payment and ceased to be entitled to it because a qualified child is no longer residing with him/her, s/he may transfer to Pre-Retirement Allowance, provided that the claim is made in the following week. (In certain circumstances late claims may be allowed from the following week - see paragraph on late claims and the separate guidelines on 'Claims and Late Claims').

            OR

  • cease to be entitled to full rate Carers Allowance

 

Where a person was in receipt of Carers Allowance and ceased to be entitled to it due to no longer being a Carer, i.e. no longer residing with and providing full-time care and attention to another person, s/he may transfer to Pre-Retirement Allowance provided that the claim is made in the following week. (In certain circumstances late claims may be allowed from the following week - see paragraph on late claims and the separate guidelines on 'Claims and Late Claims').

            OR

  • be a separated spouse/civil partner who has not engaged in employment for the preceding 15 months.

 

A spouse/civil partner is deemed to be separated if s/he and his/her spouse/civil partner have lived apart for 3 months before claiming Pre-retirement Allowance and s/he does not remarry or cohabit. If a separated spouse/civil partner subsequently lives with his/her spouse/civil partner or remarries/cohabits with someone other than his/her spouse/civil partner, payment of Pre-retirement Allowance will cease.

- A person who qualifies as a separated spouse/civil partner must not have engaged in remunerative employment or Self-Employment in the preceding 15 months.

- A separated person who is divorced will be regarded as a separated spouse/civil partner for the purposes of receiving Pre-retirement allowance, provided he or she has not remarried or is not cohabiting as husband and wife with another person.

D. Claimant must satisfy a means test

For the purposes of Pre-retirement Allowance, means are calculated in accordance with Part 2 of the Third Schedule of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005.

Means include:

  • income of the claimant and/or of the claimant's spouse/civil partner/cobabitant
  • property of the claimant and/or of his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant (excluding the family home).

See separate guideline ("Means Assessment") regarding items taken into account and items excluded from the assessment of means.

E. LINKING OF TWO PRETA CLAIMS

A person may resume entitlement to PRETA where the gap between 2 PRETA claims is not more than 52 weeks.

The exception to the 52 week linking rule: If a customer was on PRETA, then made a claim for Full Rate Carer's Allowance, subsequently if the customer makes a claim for PRETA immediately after being in receipt of Full Rate Carer's Allowance - the customer would have an entitlement to PRETA (provided the normal conditions for PRETA are satisfied). This applies regardless of the period of time the customer was in receipt of Full Rate Carer's Allowance.

Periods spent on PRETA are disregarded for the purposes of linking two claims to JA. The JA claim must be made within 52 weeks of the last PRETA claim.

F. PRETA Part-time work and JA

Periods on PRETA are disregarded for the purposes of linking entitlement to JA where the person commences part-time employment and claims JA in respect of any days of unemployment. The JA claim must be made within 52 weeks of the last JA claim.

DEDUCTING HALF/FULL MEANS ASSESSMENT

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

G. Claimant must be living in the State

The person must be living in the state in order to qualify for Pre-retirement Allowance (see Disqualification - absence from the State - for further details)

Special Categories

Single women who were in receipt of Single Woman's Allowance prior to 5th November 1992, did not have to be in receipt of long-term Jobseeker's Allowance in order to qualify for Pre-Retirement Allowance.

Persons who cease to be entitled to Prescribed Relatives Allowance (PRA) due to the person no longer meeting the conditions (i.e. due to death of the incapacitated person, the beneficiary no longer remaining so incapacitated as to require full time care and attention, etc.) will qualify for Pre-retirement Allowance provided that the claim is made in the following week. (In certain circumstances late claims may be allowed from the following week - see paragraph on late claims and the separate guidelines on 'Claims and Late Claims').

Disqualifications

Absence from the State:

Pre-retirement allowance is not payable for any period in respect of which the claimant is not resident in the State. However, claimants may take holidays of up to 2 weeks abroad without interruption of payment.

Late Claims:
A person is disqualified for payment of Pre-retirement Allowance for any period before the date on which the claim is made (see also Late Claims in Part 2 hereunder).

Prison:

Pre-retirement allowance is not paid for any periods a claimant spends in prison.

Rates Structure

Payment is made up of a personal rate and increases in respect of the claimant's spouse/civil partner/cohabitant and each qualified child less any means assessed.

Pre-retirement Allowance rates payable are similar to long-term Jobseeker's Allowance rates. (See Booklet SW 19 for current Social Welfare rates of payment).

Increase for Qualified Adult

 Definition of Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant

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

See separate guideline on "Dependants" for details of conditions

Increase for Qualified Child

As well as children under 18, an increase for Qualified Child is also payable in respect of a child aged between 18 and 22 if s/he is in full-time education by day at a recognised school or college.

An increase is not payable for a child who is getting a social welfare payment in his/her own right e.g. Disability Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment.

(See separate guideline "Dependants" for more details)

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

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

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

(b)SPOUSE/CIVIL PARTNER/COHABITANT

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

Where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant of a PRETA claimant is in receipt of an allowance in respect of a full-time FÁS or VTOS course, s/he is not considered to be a qualified adult. The Training Authority/VEC is responsible for paying the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant a personal rate plus ½ rate Increase for Qualified Child, if applicable, for the duration of the course.
All training allowances received by the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant are disregarded in the assessment of means.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Limitation

Where one of a couple living together qualifies for Pre-retirement Allowance and his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of

(1) * Farm Assist
* Pre-Retirement Allowance,
* Jobseeker's Allowance

then each receive half of the married rate appropriate to their situation/means.

(2)* Disability Benefit
* Injury Benefit
* Invalidity Pension
* State Pension (Contributory)
* State Pension (Non-Contributory)
* State Pension (Transition)
* Jobseeker's Benefit

The amount payable to any couple cannot exceed the total entitlement due if the party with the higher rate were to claim an Increase for the other as a Qualified Adult.

In effect the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant receives his/her rate of payment, and the person in receipt of Pre-retirement Allowance receives the balance once this amount does not exceed his/her single entitlement less means.

  • NOTE:

    This limitation is not applied where

    • the person was in receipt of Pre-retirement Allowance prior to 2nd April 1993.
    • the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of Carer's Allowance or Family Income Supplement.
    • the couple are separated.

    Back to Work Allowance

    Eligibility to claim the Back to Work Allowance and Back to Work Enterprise Allowance includes claimants who are in receipt of Pre-Retirement Allowance. The normal qualifying conditions will apply see Guidelines on 'Back to Work Allowance'.

    Extra Benefits

    Free Fuel or Free Smokeless Fuel Allowances in certain circumstances see separate guideline "National and Smokeless Fuel Schemes"

    Carer's Allowance

    From 27 September 2007 a person who is claiming a Social Welfare Payment (other than Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit) or being claimed for as a qualified adult and who is providing full time care to another person may now apply for Carer's Allowance and retain their current payment in full. If they satisfy the conditions for Carer's Allowance it will be awarded at 50% of the personal rate they would qualify for if they were not in receipt of any other payment. They will also be eligible for Household Benefits and a Free Travel Pass.

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

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

    Overlapping Provisions

    Pre-retirement Allowance is payable in addition to Disablement Benefit and Child Benefit.  No other benefit or allowance is payable with Pre-retirement Allowance.

    An increase for a qualified adult is not payable where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of a social welfare payment (with the exception of Child Benefit, Foster Care Allowance or Supplementary Welfare Allowance).

    An increase is not payable for a child who is getting a social welfare payment in his/her own right e.g. Disability Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment.
    (See separate guideline "Overlapping Payments" for more details)


    PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

    Claims

    Under the legislation the onus is on the claimant to apply at the correct time if s/he believes s/he is entitled to the allowance. The claim form PRETA 1 should be completed in full and signed by the claimant. The person should state his/her Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.). If s/he has no PPS No., a new PPS No. will be allocated and should be quoted in all future correspondence.

    The claimant should forward all relevant documentation as requested. However this may be submitted after the initial claim is made rather than delaying the claim in order to obtain it.

    A claimant who is unable to sign the claim form may sign by a mark, but the mark must be witnessed.

    All applicants for Pre-retirement Allowance should forward their application to their Social Welfare Local Office.

    Late Claims

    A claim may be backdated for a maximum of 6 months where the person can prove to the satisfaction of the Deciding Officer or Appeals Officer that s/he satisfied the qualifying conditions throughout the period and that there was good cause for delay in making the claim (see section 4.2 of the separate guidelines on 'Claims and Late Claims').

    Further back-dating may also be possible in certain circumstances on an extra statutory basis (see section 4.2 of the separate guidelines on 'Claims and Late Claims').

    Documentation

    Claimants of Pre-retirement Allowance are responsible for the production of certificates, documents, information and evidence required, including Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate (if applicable), and details of means such as a P60, current payslip, bank statement etc. Failure to furnish the required information or document may affect payment.

    Investigation Of Claim

    When all the documentation necessary to make a decision on a claim has been received, the file will be referred immediately to a Deciding Officer for decision.

    Where there is doubt about the fulfilment of a condition (e.g. the means of the claimant), further enquiries will be made, either by correspondence with the claimant or by referring the file to a Social Welfare Inspector for investigation. This is done in all cases where the claimant's means have not been reviewed within the previous two years.

    Decisions

     

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

    A notification of the decision is issued to the claimant, and when claims are disallowed or allowed at reduced rates the claimant is given an explanation of the reason for the disallowance or partial award.

    Appeals

    A person who is refused Pre-retirement Allowance or who is awarded a reduced rate of payment may appeal the decision to an Appeals Officer.


    PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

    Payment

    Pre-retirement Allowance is paid weekly in arrears by Postdraft which may be cashed at the Post Office nominated on the claim form. In certain circumstances the allowance may be paid directly into a bank or building society account by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT).

    (See also separate guideline on "Payments" with regard to:

                Time limit on cashing payable orders

                Appointment of agent to cash cheque

    Household Budgeting Scheme

    Duration Of Payment

    Pre-retirement Allowance is payable up to age 66 provided the claimant continues to satisfy the qualifying conditions (including the Overlapping Provisions).

    Payment on death

    Where an increase for a qualified adult is in payment, the full rate of payment will continue for a period of 6 weeks after the death of the claimant. This also applies where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant would have been in receipt of the increase but for the fact that the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant was in receipt of State Pension (Non-Contributory), Blind Pension or Carers allowance.

    In the event of the death of a qualified adult or qualified child, the full rate of payment will continue for 6 weeks.

    Special provisions

    If a Pre-retirement allowance claimant is admitted to hospital or other institution, payment of his/her allowance continues provided the other qualifying conditions continue to be met.

    Maintenance

    Stop dates are inserted in the Department's payment system as appropriate e.g. to stop the allowance at pension age, or to withdraw an increase for a qualified child when the child reaches 18 or the end of the academic year in which the child reaches age 22 as the case may be.

    Lost Cheque Action

    See separate guideline on "Payments" re action to be taken when a cheque is reported as lost or stolen.

    Certification of Ongoing Entitlement

    The onus is on the recipient of Pre-retirement Allowance to notify the Department of any changes in the claimant's or the claimant's household's circumstances.

    A list of circumstances and events which the client must notify to the Department is given below.

    In order for an Increase for Qualified Child (IQC) to continue in payment after a child's 18th birthday, the claimant is required to have a certificate completed by the child's school/college confirming that s/he is in full-time education. This certificate may be requested from the Social Welfare Local Office. It will then be issued annually for completion until the child either reaches 22 years of age or leaves school/college. If the certificate is not completed, Increase for Qualified Child is stopped.

    CIRCUMSTANCES AND EVENTS WHICH SHOULD BE NOTIFIED TO THE DEPARTMENT:

    1. Change of address
    2. Change in Post Office of payment
    3. Client is unable to cash payment at Post Office
    4. Client, qualified adult or qualified child(ren) leave the country or detained in custody
    5. Client, qualified adult or qualified child(ren) take up a FÁS Course/Community Employment Scheme
    6. Client or spouse/civil partner/cohabitant take up employment part-time or full-time.
    7. Client's spouse/civil partner/cohabitant changes the number of days s/he works per week.
    8. Client, qualified adult or qualified child(ren) become entitled to another Social Welfare payment.
    9. Client or spouse/civil partner/cohabitant receive an occupational pension or a social security pension/benefit from another country e.g. a British pension
    10. A qualified child aged between 18 and 22 ceases full-time education
    11. A qualified adult or qualified child ceases to live with or be supported by client
    12. Change in capital/income or investments in respect of client or spouse/civil partner/cohabitant
    13. Death of qualified adult or child

    Review

    A review is initiated when the claimant notifies the Department of any changes in his/her circumstances or those of his/her household, and where necessary the file is forwarded to the Social Welfare Investigator for a report on the current circumstances.

    Systematic, periodic reviews are also carried out to confirm that the qualifying conditions continue to be satisfied.

    Suspension of Payment

    Where a question arises as to whether the conditions for the receipt of Pre-retirement Allowance are satisfied, and initial enquiries fail to establish entitlement, payment may be suspended in whole or in part until the question has been decided.

    This will be done if there is reason to believe that:

    • either the claimant, qualified adult, or qualified child are no longer alive, or not resident at the given address
    • the claimant has taken up employment
    • the means of the claimant or qualified adult have increased and s/he has failed to provide the requested details within a reasonable period of time.

    Credits:

    If a person was entitled to Credits while in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance, Carer's Allowance or One-Parent Family Payment immediately prior to claiming Pre-retirement Allowance, s/he will be entitled to Credits when s/he transfers to Pre-retirement Allowance.

    If the person had no entitlement to Credits while in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance, Carer's Allowance or One-Parent Family Payment, s/he will not be entitled to Credits on transfer to Pre-retirement Allowance.

  • Last modified:05/04/2011
     

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