Prisoner's Wife's Allowance


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Internal Guidelines used in processing Claims

Table of Contents

Part 1: Entitlement

  • Description of scheme
  • Information Leaflet
  • Legislation
  • Administration

» Conditions of Continued Entitlement

  • Summary

» Qualifying Conditions in Detail

  • Age
  • Means test
  • Spouse In prison
  • Cohabitation

» Disqualifications

  • Absence from State
  • Imprisonment
  • Cohabitation

» Rate Structure

  • Basic rate

» Extra Allowances/Benefits

  • Family Income Supplement
  • Fuel allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Other Benefits available from the relevant Health Service Executive

» Overlapping Provisions

Part 2: Procedures Following Award

  • Payment Date
  • Payment Method
  • Electronic Information Transfer (EIT)
  • Arrears
  • Duration of Payment

» Lost/Stolen Card/Cheque action

  • Change of Post Office, Method of Payment or change of address

» Absence from the State

  • Illness/Hospital Stays
  • Imprisonment
  • Certification of ongoing entitlement

» Review

  • Suspension/Revocation/Reduction of Payment

Part 1: Entitlement

Description of scheme

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is a means tested payment made to women under 66 years of age whose husband is in prison and who have no dependent children. Prisoner's Wife's Allowance was closed off to new applications with effect from 2 January 1997 when One-Parent Family Payment was introduced.

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance was introduced in 1974.

See separate guideline on " One-Parent Family Payment" for more detail.

Information Leaflet

Out of Print

Legislation:

The provisions relating to Prisoner's Wife's Allowance were contained in

  • Sections 155 - 156, Chapter 8 (Part III) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 1993, as amended, (Repealed by S 19 SW Act 1996)
  • Section 78, Chapter 4 (Part III) of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Payments Provisions) Regulations 1994, as amended.
Administration:

The scheme is administered by One-Parent Family Section, Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.

Conditions of Continued Entitlement

Summary

A person who qualified for Prisoner's Wife's Allowance must continue to satisfy the following conditions to retain entitlement to the payment:

  • be over aged 40 and under 66 years with no qualified child
  • satisfy a means test
  • spouse is in prison
  • not be cohabiting with any person as husband and wife.
Qualifying Conditions in Detail

Age

The claimant must be over 40 years and under 66 years of age and have no qualified children.

Means test

For Prisoner's Wife's Allowance purposes, means e.g. income from savings, investments, property, employment etc are calculated in accordance with Part II of the Third Schedule to the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1993 as amended.

See separate guideline on " Means Assessment" for more information on how means are assessed as income.

Spouse in prison

A spouse is considered to be imprisoned if s/he has been:

  • committed to a prison for a period of not less than 6 months
    or
  • has been in custody for a period of 6 months immediately prior to the date of claim and continues to remain in custody

Cohabitation

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is not payable while a person is cohabiting with someone as husband and wife.

See separate guideline re " Cohabitation".

Disqualifications

Absence from State

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is not payable to a person residing outside the State. A person is however, allowed reasonable absences i.e. up to a maximum of 3 weeks outside the State for the purposes of holidays, attending a funeral etc. and receive payment.

See Part 2 and separate guideline on " Payments" regarding general provisions on Absence from the State.

Imprisonment

A person is disqualified from receiving Prisoner's Wife's Allowance for any period during which she is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.

Cohabitation

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is not payable while a person is cohabiting with someone as husband and wife.

Rate Structure

Basic rate

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is made up of a personal rate which depends on the claimants means.

See separate guideline on " Means Assessment"

Extra Allowances/Benefits

Additional allowances and benefits are payable as follows:

Family Income Supplement

Where a person in receipt of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is working for an employer and on low income, she may be entitled to this supplement in addition to Prisoner's Wife's Allowance. Certain conditions apply in relation to hours of work, duration of employment. A means test also applies.

See separate guideline on " Family Income Supplement" for more detail.

Fuel allowance:

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 separate guideline " SWI/Fuel Schemes" for more detail on Fuel allowance.

Carer's Allowance:

This may be payable to a person who provides full-time care and attention to a person in receipt of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance who is aged 66 or over and medically certified as being incapacitated. See separate guideline on " Carer's Allowance" for more detail.

Other Benefits available from the relevant Health Service Executive

A person may also qualify for:

  • Rent or Mortgage Interest Subsidy
  • Exceptional Needs Payments
  • Medical Card

See separate guideline " SWA/Basic" and other SWA guidelines on Supplementary Welfare Allowance for further details.

Overlapping Provisions

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is not payable in addition to other social welfare payments, except in the following circumstances:

(i) A person in receipt of the maximum rate Prisoner's Wife's Allowance (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:

  • Illness Benefit (for up to 15 months)
  • Health and Safety Benefit
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Jobseeker's Benefit (for up to 15 months)
  • Injury Benefit
  • Incapacity Supplement (for up to 15 months)

(ii) Where a person is in receipt of a reduced rate Prisoner's Wife's Allowance, she may also be paid one of the above benefits, provided that the total payment does not exceed the sum of the maximum rate of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance combined with half the personal rate of benefit concerned.

Note: Where a person was in receipt of Disability Allowance or Incapacity Supplement in addition to Prisoner's Wife's Allowance on 5 April 1990, they continue to be entitled to such benefit or supplement until the end of the period of incapacity for work.

(iii) Family Income Supplement may be payable to employed persons on low income in addition to Prisoner's Wife's Allowance. However, the amount of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance in payment is assessable as means.

(iv) Blind Pension is payable in addition to Prisoner's Wife's Allowance to age 66, subject to statutory conditions being satisfied. Where a person is in receipt of Blind Pension and Prisoner's Wife's Allowance the following benefits are not payable:

  • Illness Benefit,
  • Maternity Benefit,
  • Health and Safety Benefit,
  • Adoptive Benefit,
  • Jobseeker's Benefit,
  • Injury Benefit
  • Incapacity Supplement

(v) Disablement Benefit at the personal rate is payable in addition to Prisoner's Wife's Allowance.
(See separate guideline " Overlapping Entitlements" for more details)

Part 2: Procedures Following Award

Payment Date

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is payable weekly in advance on a Thursday. Where the day from which payment takes effect is a day in the week other than Thursday, the payment takes effect as from the next following Thursday. The same procedure applies where there is a change in the rate of payment.

Payment Method

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 a person

Electronic Fund Transfer

Payment may be made by EFT, paid weekly directly into a chosen Bank or Building Society Savings Account.

Arrears:

Any arrears of payment due may be included in the normal method of payment or paid by cheque.

See separate guideline " Payments" for more details on payment methods.

Duration of Payment:

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is payable for as long as a person continues to satisfy the qualifying conditions and is not disqualified for any reason.

Note: Once Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is terminated a person cannot reapply again for this payment.

Lost/Stolen Card/Cheque action

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 be also be notified immediately of any such loss or theft.

See separate guideline on " Payments" 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 separate guideline on " Payments" for more detail.

Absence from the State

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance is not payable outside of the State.

A person should notify the Department if leaving the State and payment will be terminated. 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 separate guideline on " Payments" for more detail.

Illness/Hospital Stays

Arrangements may be made for payment where a person is too ill to attend Post Office to cash payment. See separate guideline on " Payments" for more details.

Imprisonment

A person is disqualified from receiving Prisoner's Wife's Allowance for any period during which she is undergoing penal servitude, imprisonment or detention in legal custody.

Certification of ongoing entitlement

Social Welfare legislation puts an onus on a person to notify the Department of any changes in circumstances which may affect entitlement to Prisoner's Wife's Allowance.

On being notified of an award of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance, a person is issued with a list of circumstances which could effect her 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 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 Prisoner's Wife's Allowance:-

  • Spouse is released from prison
  • Change in person's means or income
  • Change of address
  • Change of Post Office
  • Death of claimant
  • Imprisonment or detention of claimant
  • claimant leaves the State
  • Change in household composition including the birth of an additional child
  • Cohabitation with another person
  • Re-marriage

Failure to notify the Department of any of the above events may result in overpayment of which may be recoverable from a person by way of lump sum repayment or deductions from weekly payment It may equally result in an underpayment of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance e.g. where earnings/savings have reduced. Effective date of payment of any underpayment of benefit, would normally be decided by reference to legislative and other provisions in relation to late claims.

See at Part 2 of the Widow/er's (Non-Contributory) Pension guidelines and separate guideline on Late Claims.

See separate guideline on " Overpayment Recovery" for more detail.

Review

A review is initiated when the Department is notified of any change in circumstances which 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 with the person in receipt of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance.

Periodic reviews are also initiated by the Department to confirm that the correct payment is being made to the correct person and that the qualifying conditions for receipt of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance 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 address, current earnings, household composition etc. payment of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance may be suspended in whole/part until the relevant information has been provided by the person in receipt of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance.

Where the facts have been established, following a review of the qualifying conditions for payment of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance, and where a Deciding Officer deems that the qualifying conditions are no longer fulfilled, the person will be so advised in writing. There will be a right of appeal against any such decision.

See also separate guidelines on " Decision-Making" and " Revised Decisions".

If an overpayment of Prisoner's Wife's Allowance has occurred it may be recoverable by the Department. See separate guideline " Overpayment Recovery" for more detail.

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.


Last modified:30/06/2010
 

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