Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme (SWA)


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Internal Guidelines

Table of Contents:

PART 1. GENERAL
Description of scheme
Purpose of the SWA scheme
Information Leaflet:
Legislation
Administration

PART 2. ELIGIBILITY
Qualifying Conditions
Disqualification
Supplements:
Rates Structure

MEANS ASSESSMENT

WHAT COUNTS AS MEANS

NON-ASSESSABLE MEANS

PART 3: APPLICATION, ASSESSMENT AND DECISION PROCEDURES
Claims
Means Test
SWA Appeals


PART 1. GENERAL

Description of scheme

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) Scheme came into operation on 1 July 1977. It was introduced to replace the home assistance service for persons whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. SWA can consist of a basic payment and/or a supplement in respect of certain expenses a person may not be able to meet.

Purpose of the SWA scheme

The main purpose of the scheme is:-

  • to guarantee a standard basic minimum income;
  • to provide a residual and support role within the overall income maintenance structure;
  • to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who are awaiting decision on payment of other State schemes;
  • to provide people with low incomes with a weekly supplement to meet certain special needs (e.g. rent and mortgage interest payments) or a payment to help with the cost of any exceptional needs they may have;
  • to help those whose needs are inadequately met under the major schemes
  • to help those confronted with an emergency situation.
Information Leaflet:

SW 54 Leaflet - Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Legislation

The legislation governing the scheme is incorporated in

  • Chapter 9 of Part 3 and Chapter 3 of Part 10 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005
  • Part 4 of Schedule 3 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 - Rules as to Calculation of Means, and
  • Social Welfare (Consolidated Supplementary Welfare Allowance) Regulations 2007 to 2011.
Administration

The SWA scheme was formerly administered on behalf of the Department by the Community Welfare Services division of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

From 1 October 2011, the community welfare services and the community welfare officers providing it were formally transferred to the Department of Social Protection. The service and the staff are now part of the Department of Social Protection.

PART 2. ELIGIBILITY

Qualifying Conditions

Subject to the legislation governing the scheme, every habitually resident person in the State whose means are insufficient to meet his/her needs and the needs of his/her qualified adult or child(ren) shall be entitled to Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

There are two categories of claimants for basic SWA:-

  • People who fail to meet the conditions for entitlement to a weekly social welfare or qualifying HSE payment.
  • People who have applied for a social welfare payment and are getting a Basic SWA payment pending a decision on their claim.
Disqualification

Under the legislation a number of categories are specifically excluded from receiving assistance. These are people in full-time work, people in full-time education and people involved in trade disputes. The qualified spouse and qualified child(ren) of a person involved in trade dispute are not excluded from SWA for the period of the strike.

A person will not be regarded as being in full-time work where he/she is employed for less than 30 hours a week.

Supplements:

The SWA scheme provides for a variety of supplements, see the following separate guidelines:

RENT SUPPLEMENT

MORTGAGE SUPPLEMENT

DIET SUPPLEMENT

EXCEPTIONAL NEEDS PAYMENTS

URGENT NEEDS PAYMENTS

BACK-TO-SCHOOL CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR ALLOWANCE

HEATING SUPPLEMENT

Rates Structure

Basic SWA is made up of a personal rate for the applicant and additional amounts for any qualified adult and/or qualified child(ren). The current rates of payment are set out in Booklet SW 19.

Means Assessment

The following is a brief summary of how means are assessed. The effective Guidelines used in the calculation of means are those issued to the Department’s representatives.

What counts as means
  • Income from employment or self-employment.
  • Income from DSP or HSE payments.
  • The capital value of property, other than claimant's own home.
  • The value of any investments or savings (capital).
  • All income and the value of all property of which the claimant deprived himself/herself in order to qualify for SWA.
  • Income in cash e.g. maintenance payments.
  • Benefit & Privilege for person's aged under 25.

Income from Employment or Self-Employment

A claimant may work under 30 hours per week in insurable employment and still qualify for SWA.

Gross income less PRSI and reasonable travel expenses is taken into account for the means test.

Other necessary expenses may be allowed in the case of self-employment.

Property & Capital

Section 35 of Social Welfare & Pensions Act 2007 provides for an amendment in the manner that capital is assessed for the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. Property/Savings will be assessed on a weekly basis as follows:

Disregard first 5,000 of capital value of property/savings

Assess next 10,000 @ 1 per 1,000

Assess next 25,000 @ 2 per 1,000

Assess remaining capital over 40,000 @ 4 per 1,000

Non-assessable means
  • Training allowance while in Rehabilitative Training
  • Child benefit, including equivalent payments from other EU countries
  • Up to 120 of earnings from rehabilitative employment
  • Mobility Allowance
  • Payments received from the HSE for foster children.
  • Payments for accommodating children under the Child Care Act.
  • Income from Gaeltacht students
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Grants or allowances arising in pursuance of a scheme promoting the welfare of blind people.
  • Money received from charitable organisations e.g. St. Vincent de Paul
  • Compensation awarded by the Compensation Tribunal in respect of Hepatitis C contracted from certain blood products and to those who have disabilities caused by Thalidomide and to those receiving compensation under the Residential Institutions Redress Board.
  • Maintenance grants paid by Local Authorities for Higher Education.
  • Any income paid as a Respite Care Grant should be disregarded as means for the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.
  • Any income paid by way of Guardian's Payment (Contributory or Non-Contributory).

PART 3: APPLICATION, ASSESSMENT AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims

A person should apply for Basic SWA, or any of the other payments referred to above, to their local Department’s representative administering Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

The following information is normally required by the CWO in making a decision on a claim:

  • Personal Public Service Numbers (PPS Nos.) for applicant, spouse and children
  • I.D. in the form of birth certs., driving licence, passports, Social Protection services cards, bank card, rent book;
  • Proof of residency
  • Evidence of any income of applicant, spouse and children
  • Confirmation of means
  • Evidence of the need
  • A note from applicant's local Department of Social Protection (DSP) office if the applicant has applied for any other DSP payment and last wages slip if applicant has just applied for Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance
  • Applicant's Child Benefit book or birth certificates for any children being claimed for if PPS Nos. for them are not available
  • Rent book if applying for help with rent
  • A statement giving details of mortgage interest payments if applying for help with mortgage interest.
SWA Appeals

If a person is unhappy with the decision of a Department’s representative on his/her SWA application, it is open to him/her to appeal the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO), D'Olier House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2. The independent SWAO will deal with appeals relating to Basic SWA and SWA supplements.


Last modified:22/02/2013
 

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