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Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Contents

Section 1- General Information

1.1 What is Blind Pension?
1.2 Information Leaflets
1.3 Legislation
1.4 Administration
1.5 How to qualify for Blind Pension
1.6 What evidence of blindness is required?

Section 2-The Means Test

2.1 What is the means test
2.2 What counts as means?
2.3 How is cash income assessed?
2.4 How is capital assessed?
2.5 What happens if I save some of my pension
2.6 Deprivation of capital
2.7 What does not count as means?

Section 3-Vacating/selling your home

3.1 What happens if I vacate my home?
3.2 Exemption from means of the sale proceeds of your home
3.3 In what circumstances does the exemption apply?
3.4 What happens if I buy more suitable accommodation?
3.5 What happens if I move into a private nursing home?
3.6 What happens if I sell all (or a part of) my home but I continue to live there?

Section 4- Payment

4.1 If I qualify for pension, how much will I get?
4.2 Increase for a Qualified Adult
4.3 Increase for a Qualified Child
4.4 How will my pension be paid?
4.5 Separate payment of pension
4.6 How long will my pension last?
4.7 Other increases/benefits that may be payable to you

Section 5- How to claim your Pension

5.1 When and how do I claim Blind Pension?
5.2 Certificates needed with your application form
5.3 Late Claims
5.4 How will your claim to pension be decided?
5.5 Appeal against a decision on a pension claim
5.6 What happens if I go to live outside the State?
5.7 Change of circumstances need to notify the Department
5.8 Will my claim be reviewed?
5.9 Can I get another payment as well as Blind Pension?
5.10 Your right to social welfare records

Appendix 1: What does not count as means?

Appendix 2:

Other increases/benefits that may be payable to you

  • Increase for living on a specified island
  • Living Alone Increase
  • Fuel Allowance under the National Fuel Scheme
  • Household Benefits Package
  • Free Travel

Carer's Allowance/Benefit

After death payments;

  • Six weeks after death payment
  • Bereavement Grant
  • Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant

Appendix 3: Increase for living on a specified island


Section 1 General information

1.1 What is Blind Pension?

Blind Pension is a means tested payment paid to blind people and certain people with low vision, aged 18 and up to the age of 66 who are habitually resident in the State. This pension was introduced in 1920.

1.2 Information Leaflets

Apart from the information contained in this guideline, the following information leaflets may also be of interest to you. These are available free of charge from the Department's Information Service, Social Welfare Services, College Road, Sligo (Tel: LoCall 1890 66 22 44);

  • Guide to Social Welfare Services (SW4)
  • Blind Pension (SW 76)
  • Living Alone Increase (SW36)
  • Free Travel (SW 40)
  • Household Benefits Package (SW107)
  • Pensioners and Savings (SW 60)
  • Rates of Payment Booklet (SW19)

1.3 Legislation

The main legislative provisions relating to Blind Pension are contained in

  • Chapter 5 of Part 3 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 (Section 161) as amended;
  • Part 5 of Schedule 3 of the above Act (as amended);
  • Chapter 6 of Part 3 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No.142 of 2007)

1.4 Administration

The scheme is administered by the Department of Social Protection, Social Welfare Services, College Road, Sligo. Telephone: LoCall 1890 500 000, FAX Number: (071) 9148437.

1.5 How to qualify for Blind Pension

To qualify for this pension, you must satisfy all of the following conditions i.e. you must

  • be blind or have low vision
  • be aged 18 years and under age 66
    (On reaching 66 the Blind Pension will cease and you will be invited to apply for State Pension)
  • be habitually resident in the State;
    (Please refer to separate guideline on Habitual Residence Condition SW 108)
  • be living in the State while getting Blind Pension;
    (However, please see paragraph 5.6 in this guideline entitled 'What happens if I go to live outside the State?')
  • have a valid Personal Public Service (PPS) Number;
    (If you do not have a PPS Number, please contact your local Social Welfare Office for further information)
  • satisfy a means test.

1.6 What evidence of blindness/low vision is required?

The Department must be satisfied that your vision is impaired to such an extent that you cannot perform any work for which eyesight is essential or cannot continue in your ordinary occupation. Registration with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland is usually accepted as satisfying the blindness condition. Generally speaking, to qualify for such registration, best vision must be equal to or less than 6/60 in the better eye or, if the field of vision is limited, the widest diameter of vision must subtend an angle of not greater than 20 degrees.

If you are not registered with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, you must present a medical report to the Department from an Ophthalmic Surgeon or an optometrist. In any case where a doubt arises as to whether or not a person satisfies the blindness condition of the scheme, the Department's Chief Medical Advisor will give a ruling on the matter.


Section 2 The Means Test

2.1 What is the means test

A means test is a way of checking if you have enough means to support yourself and what amount of payment, if any, you may qualify for. Your means are any income belonging to you or your spouse or partner and property (except your own home) or an asset that could provide you with an income.

Provided you satisfy the other conditions of the scheme with regard to vision, age, habitual residence, living in the State and PPS number, you will qualify for Blind Pension if your weekly means are equal to or less than �192.60. Your weekly rate of payment will depend on the actual amount of your means.

To determine your means, you must complete the application in full. You must declare full details both of your own means and that of your spouse or partner where applicable. Incomplete application forms will be returned to the applicant and may ultimately delay the award of pension.

It is possible that the application may be referred to your local Social Welfare Inspector who will request an interview with you. You may be asked to produce supporting documentation such as bank statements or accounts.

If you are awarded a pension, you are legally obliged to report any increases in means to the Department within a period of three months. If you do not do so, you may incur an overpayment of pension which you (or your Estate after your death) will have to repay.

2.2 What counts as means?

The following items that you and your spouse or partner have will be taken into account in calculating your weekly means:

  • cash income (e.g. earnings from employment or self employment, an occupational pension, a British or other foreign pension) Please see disregard for 'income from rehabilitative employment' at Appendix 1
  • value of capital (e.g. savings, investments, cash in hand)
  • any property you may have (but not your own home)

If you are married, in a civil partnership or are cohabiting with another person, your individual means will be taken as half the joint means of you and your spouse/partner.

2.3 How is cash income assessed?

2.3(a) Income from employment:

Cash income from employment is assessed as part of your means. For example, if you are working and have gross earnings per week, then this amount (less social insurance contributions, superannuation contributions, health contributions and union dues) will be assessed as your means for pension purposes. Please see disregard in relation to rehabilitative employment at Appendix 1

2.3(b) Income from self employment:

Income from self employment is taken to be the gross profit less allowable work related expenses, but not drawings. If you take 'drawings' from the business, these are assessed as cash income.

There is no exhaustive list of allowable expenses in self employed cases, since these vary with the nature and extent of the self employment. However, the following are the main allowable expenses in most instances;

  • materials (supplies costs)
  • motor running costs (portion applicable to business only)
  • depreciation of machinery and equipment
  • insurance relating to the business
  • telephone (portion applicable to business only)
  • lighting and heating (for business and not domestic use)
  • advertising
  • bank charges
  • van leasing
  • labour costs
  • pension plan
  • any other costs associated with running the business

Household running costs are not allowed as deductions against business profit.

2.3(c) Income from farming:

If you own a farm of land, the yearly value of any advantage that you or your spouse/partner have from owning or leasing it will be assessed as income. The yearly value is worked out by deducting any necessary expenses incurred from the gross income.

If you or your spouse/partner deprive yourselves of income in order to either qualify for pension, or to qualify for pension at a higher rate, that income will be assessed against you as means. However, this may not apply in the case of certain family settlements involving the transfer of ownership of a farm/business.

2.3(d). Maintenance Payments:

A portion of maintenance payments received by a claimant is assessed as means in accordance with the following formula;

A. Actual maintenance payments received by claimant

B. Less vouched housing costs(see note 1) actually incurred by the claimant (net of rent subsidy received from the Health Service Executive) of up to �95.23 per week

C. Balance is assessed at 50%

Note 1: refers solely to money paid for rent or mortgage or repayments of home improvement loan for the residence in which the claimant is residing. Evidence of the housing costs must be provided by the claimant.

Example:
Assessment of Maintenance Amount
Weekly maintenance payment received �200.00
Mortgage repayments (�120 pw) (�95.23)
Balance �104.77
Assessed as weekly means (50%) �52.39

2.4 How is capital assessed?

Capital refers to savings, investments, cash on hands and property (excluding your own home) that you have. The value of all of these items are added together and a special formula (see below) is applied to their total value to calculate your weekly means.

If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting with another person, then you will be assessed (using the formula below) with half your joint capital.

Formula:
Amount of Savings and Investments Weekly means assessment
First �20,000 Nil
Next �10,000 �1 per �1,000
Next �10,000 �2 per �1,000
Balance �4 per �1,000

2.6 What happens if I save some of my pension each week?

If you save a portion of your blind pension each week, these savings will be taken into account as part of your means. Depending upon the amount of savings you accumulate along with any other means you might have, this could result in a reduction in (or revocation of) your blind pension.

You are legally obliged to notify the Department within three months of any increase in your means.

2.7 Deprivation of Capital

If you or your spouse/partner deprive yourselves of capital in order to either qualify for pension, or to qualify for pension at a higher rate, then that capital will be assessed against you as means. However, this may not apply in the case of certain family settlements involving the transfer or ownership of a farm or business.

2.8 What does count as means?

A list of the main items that are not taken into account in the means test are set out in Appendix 1.


Section 3 Vacating/Selling your home

3.1 What happens if I vacate my home?

If, due to old age or incapacity, you vacate your home either on a temporary basis or indefinitely, the value of your home will not be assessed as means. However, if it is put to profitable use (e.g. rented out), the capital value of the house will then be assessed as means.

If you offer the property for sale, the capital value will not be assessed as means for a period of two years from the date on which it was offered for sale. However, if the property is sold within the two year period or subsequently, the income from the sale may be assessed as means (see following paragraphs).

3.2 Exemption from means of the sale proceeds of your home

If you are living in accommodation which no longer suits you or which you are no longer able to maintain, you may be able to sell your home and move to more suitable accommodation without the sale proceeds affecting your weekly means. The proceeds of the sale up to �190,500.00 may be disregarded when assessing your weekly means.

3.3 In what circumstances does the exemption apply?

The exemption only applies where you sell your home and,

  • buy alternative accommodation or
  • rent alternative accommodation or
  • move into a private nursing home which is registered under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990.
  • move in with a person who is caring for you and who is in receipt of a carer's payment, or
  • move to sheltered or special housing in the voluntary, co operative, statutory or private sectors.

3.4 What happens if I buy more suitable accommodation?

If you buy more suitable accommodation, the balance of the proceeds after buying the new accommodation is exempted up to a limit of �190,500.00.

Example 1;
A person sells his/her house for �200,000 and buys alternative accommodation for �150,000, the balance of �50,000 is not counted as means as it is below the limit of �190,500.00.

Example 2;
A person sells his/her house for �450,000 and buys alternative accommodation for �200,000 leaving a balance of �250,000. For pension purposes, a sum of �59,500.00 (i.e. �250,000 less �190,500.00) will be assessed as means.

3.5 What happens if I move into a private nursing home?

If you sell your home and move into a private nursing home which is registered under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990, the proceeds of the sale up to �190,500.00 are exempted.

Example;
A person sells his/her house for �220,000 and moves into a private nursing home. For pension purposes a sum of �29,500.00 (i.e. �220,000 less �190,500.00) will only be assessed as means.

3.6 What happens if I sell all (or part of) my home but I continue to live there?

If you sell all or part of your home to a financial institution or to another party, e.g under an equity release agreement, and you are permitted as part of this arrangement to continue to reside in your home, the amount you receive from this sale will be fully taken into account in calculating your means for pension purposes. In other words, the sale of residence disregard of �190,500 does not apply in this case.

Example
John is getting Blind Pension at the maximum rate. He owns his home but decides to sell a part of it to a bank for �100,000. As part of this sale, it is agreed between the parties that John can continue to reside in the house for the remainder of his life. John has no income other than his Blind Pension. He has, however, savings of �18,000 in post office savings certificates. The total amount of John's money (�118,000) will be assessed as means for pension purposes as follows;

Savings Rate of per 1000 Weekly Means
First �20,000 @ nil �0
Next �10,000 @ �1.00 per �1,000 �10
Next �10,000 @ �2.00 per �1,000 �20
Balance of 78,000 @ �4.00 per �1,000 �312
Total Weekly Means �342

John's total weekly means are �342.00 which is well above the maximum statutory limit for entitlement to pension. On this basis, his Blind Pension would be revoked.


Section 4 Payment

4.1 If I qualify for pension, how much will I get?

If you qualify for a Blind Pension, the pension will be made up of a personal rate for yourself and extra amounts for your dependents, if any. The weekly personal rate of the pension as well as increases payable for your dependent spouse/partner (Increase for a Qualified Adult) and qualified child/ren (Increase for a Qualified Child) are shown in the Rates of Payment Booklet SW19.

A single person who has no other means can have capital of up to � 27,999 and qualify for the maximum rate of pension of �188.00 per week. Alternatively, the same person can have capital as high as �80,999 and qualify for a reduced pension of �3.00 per week.

A married or cohabiting couple who both satisfy the other conditions of the scheme and whose means are derived solely from capital can have joint capital of up to �55,999 and each can qualify for the maximum rate of pension of �188.00 plus an increase �124.80 for the spouse/partner per week. Alternatively, the same couple can have joint capital of up to �161,999 and each can qualify for a reduced pension of �3.00 plus an increase �2.00 for the spouse/partner per week.

4.2 Increase for a Qualified Adult

If you are married, in a civil partnership or living with any person, you may be entitled to an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) in respect of him/her.

You will not get IQA if the person concerned

  • is receiving a social welfare payment in his/her own right (except Child Benefit, Respite Care Grant, Family Income Supplement or Half Rate Carer's Allowance) or
  • is disqualified from receiving unemployment payments while taking part in a trade dispute or
  • is taking part in a full time F�S non craft training course
  • Has reached the age of 66. On reaching age 66 the IQA will automatically cease and s/he will be invited to apply for State Pension in his/her own right. It should be noted that it will be more financially beneficial to you as a couple if each of you receives a pension in your own right.

4.3 Increase for a Qualified Child

You may claim an Increase for a Qualified Child of �29.80 per week for each of your qualified children under age 18 who normally live with you and are being maintained by you. The increase may also be paid in respect of a child between 18 to 22 years of age if s/he is in full time education by day at a recognised school or college.

Increase for a Qualified Child may be paid at either the full rate or at half rate as follows;

  • if you qualify for an Increase for a Qualified Adult, then an Increase for a Qualified Child will be paid to you as part of your pension at the full weekly rate.
  • if your spouse/partner is also getting a social welfare payment, then each of you will get half the appropriate qualified child rate with your weekly payment.

An Increase for a Qualified Child is not payable where the child is getting a social welfare or health service executive payment in his/her own right (e.g. Disability Allowance, One Parent Family Payment).

4.4 How will my pension be paid?

Blind Pension is payable weekly in advance on Friday. It may be paid

  • directly into your bank or building society account. This is known as EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer).
  1. or
  • at a chosen post office by Social Services Card (SSC)

4.5 Separate payment of pension

Separate payments are usually made where it is likely that the amount of benefit payable will not be used for the subsistence of the family unit.

(a). Applicable in all circumstances

The general provision is that the payment of any increase in respect of a qualified adult or child dependant may be made to a person appointed for that purpose. The appropriate personal rate remains in payment to the claimant.

(b) Applicable only where couple reside together

Alternatively, where a Qualified Adult is living with the claimant, a separate payment can be made to that Qualified Adult, equalling half the amount payable to the claimant and qualified adult (including over 80 allowance where applicable), plus all the amount payable in respect of any child dependants. The amount payable under this provision will normally be higher than that payable under e general provision.

4.6 How long will my pension last?

Blind Pension is payable until you reach the age of 66 and as long as you satisfy the qualifying conditions for receipt of payment. However, the pension will cease if you are awarded an Invalidity Pension, Carers Benefit, State Pension (Transition ),Jobseeker's Allowance, Pre Retirement Allowance, Disability Allowance, Farm Assist or Carer's Allowance. Please see par.5.9 for payment of half rate carers. On reaching age 66 the Blind Pension will automatically cease and you will be invited to apply for the State Pension.

4.7 Other increases/benefits that maybe payable to you

Please see Appendix 2 for a list of other allowances and benefits that you may qualify for.


Section 5 How to claim your pension

5.1 When and how do I claim Blind Pension?

If you are under age 18 you should apply for the pension three months before reaching your 18th birthday. This is to ensure that, if awarded pension, it will be paid from the time you reach age 18.

If after reaching age 18, you become blind or your sight deteriorates, you should apply as soon as the condition arises as payment can only be made from the date your application is received by the Department.

You can apply for the pension by calling telephone number 1890 500 000 and we will take your application details over the phone. Alternatively you can complete the form BP1 and return it to:

Blind Pension Section
Social Welfare Services
College Road
Sligo

Tel: LoCall 1890 500 000

BP1 forms are also available from all Social Welfare Public Offices, Local Offices of the Department, local Post Offices and from the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.

5.2 Certificates needed with your application form

Evidence of births and marriages which occurred in the State are available to the Department and are not required to be sent with you application. However where the birth or marriage occurred outside of the State evidence must be provided by sending us the following certificates, where relevant:

  • your birth certificate
  • your spouse or partner's birth certificate
  • your marriage/civil partnership certificate
  • your qualified child(ren)'s birth certificate(s). If you are getting Child Benefit for your qualified child(ren) you do not need to send us their birth certificate(s).

We do not accept photocopies of certificates

If you are not able to get the certificate(s) immediately, you should send in your pension application form with a note stating that you will send the certificate(s) as soon as possible. If you are sending in your certificate(s) at a later date, please ensure that you quote your pension claim number. You will get this number automatically when we receive your application.

If you are claiming for a qualified child who is aged 18 to 22 and in full time education you should send in a letter from a school or college confirming their attendance.

5.3 Late Claims

Please apply for a pension on time i.e. three months before you reach age 18 or, as soon as you become blind or your sight deteriorates, if later.

If you apply for pension late, you may lose out on part of your entitlement. There is provision to backdate the award of pension for up to 6 months before the date on which the claim was made. However, you will have to have a valid reason for claiming late before any decision to back date the claim is considered.

It is also possible in certain exceptional circumstances to back date claims for periods in excess of 6 months as follows;

  • if the failure to claim on time arose as a result of incorrect information supplied by staff of the Department to you.
  • where the delay arose due to you being incapacitated by illness or infirmity. However, an illness though disabling, which would not cause your mental faculties to diminish significantly, would not be accepted as sufficient reason for late claim.
  • you were the subject of a 'force majeure' i.e. you were subject to extreme events or actions which prevented you from claiming on time.
  • if you are experiencing financial hardship. However, you must have current debts, which cannot be discharged from current income or disposable assets.

In all cases where a backdated payment is being considered, entitlement to pension throughout that period must have been satisfactorily established.

If you feel that you may be entitled to a back dated payment under any of the provisions outlined above, please set out your case in writing to us and supply any supporting documentation. Please also quote your pension claim number when writing to us.

5.4 How will your claim to pension be decided?

Your application for pension will be decided by a statutorily appointed Deciding Officer of the Department who will notify you in writing of his/her decision. Deciding Officers are independent in the exercise of their functions in deciding on entitlements to pension. If your claim is disallowed or allowed at a reduced rate of payment, you will be given full details including details of the means assessed.

If you consider that the decision you receive is incorrect, or you require clarification in relation to it, please contact the deciding officer immediately. It is also open to you to forward to the deciding officer any further documentary evidence that you think is relevant and s/he will then review the decision.

5.5 Appeal against a decision of a Deciding Officer

If you are not satisfied with a Deciding Officer's decision (either before or after seeking a review), you may appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office by writing to the Chief Appeals Officer, D'Olier House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2 (Tel: LoCall 1890 74 74 34) setting out fully the grounds of your appeal.

Your appeal should be submitted within 21 days of the date of the decision letter. However, if you first seek a review by the Deciding Officer, you have 21 days from the completion of that review in which to make your appeal.

5.6 What happens if I go to live outside the State?

Blind Pension is not normally paid to people who reside outside the State. However, if you go to live in Northern Ireland, and were in receipt of a Blind Pension immediately before you moved, your pension can continue to be paid for up to five years subject to certain conditions.

If you go on holiday abroad, payment of your pension for a period of up to 13 weeks is normally allowed on your return home. However, payment will not be allowed for repeated trips of this nature.

If your return home is prevented by circumstances outside your control (e.g. because of ill health) payment may also be allowed where suitable evidence to that effect is provided by you. Evidence will also be needed to show that you continued to be entitled to the pension while abroad i.e. you were not working or claiming payment from the social welfare authorities abroad.

If you are leaving the State, you should tell the Department and return your pension book(s). If you are being paid by SSC Card at a post office or Electronic Fund Transfer into your bank or building society account you should notify the Department. It is not sufficient to notify the financial institution. When you return to live here, you should re apply immediately for your pension.

5.7 Change of circumstances need to notify the Department

The Blind Pension Section, Department of Social Protection, College Road, Sligo must be notified as quickly as possible if any of the changes set out below occur as they may affect your entitlement to pension. Remember to quote your pension reference number whenever you contact us.

If the means of you or your spouse or partner increase for any reason, you are legally obliged to notify the Department of the increase(s) within a period of three months. For example, if you or your spouse have earnings or any other type of income, you must notify us in writing of any increases in this income by sending us a copy of the latest payment slip(s) you receive. Also, if the combined value of your savings, investments, cash on hands and property (except your own home) increases, you must advise us of the details.

If you do not notify the Department of increases in your means, you may incur an overpayment of pension which you (or your Estate after death) will have to repay.

Other changes which require notification

  • you change address
  • you wish to change the way in which your pension is paid (post office or bank )
  • you wish to have a person nominated to cash your pension at the post office on your behalf
  • you, or any person for whom payment is included in your pension, dies, leaves the State, takes up a F�S course or is imprisoned following conviction of an offence
  • any person for whom payment is included in your pension ceases to live with or be supported by you, or becomes entitled to a pension, benefit or allowance in his/her own right from the Department or a Health Service Executive
  • a qualified child age 18 to 22 ceases full time education.

5.8 Will my claim be reviewed?

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 correct payment is being made to the correct person and that the qualifying conditions for receipt of Blind Pension continue to be fulfilled.

5.9 Can I get any other Social Welfare payment as well as Blind Pension?

You may qualify for one of the following payments in addition to your Blind Pension;

  • Half Rate Carer's Allowance (see note 2)
  • Illness Benefit
  • Jobseeker's Benefit
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Health and Safety Benefit
  • Injury Benefit
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension
  • One Parent Family Payment.

If an Increase for a Qualified Adult or an Increase for a Qualifed Child is payable on your Blind Pension, similar allowances will also be payable with the above payments.

  • Art. 224 of SI 142/2007

Note 2: 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. See information Booklet SW 40 for more details.

5.10 Your right to social welfare records

Under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003, you have the right;

  • to access records held by the Department
  • to have official information relating to you that is held by the Department amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
  • to obtain reasons for acts of the Department that affect you.

You may not be able to access certain records which are exempt under the Act e.g. information relating to another person.

Requests for access to records must be made in writing and contain enough information so that we know what records you are looking for. Request forms are available from your local Social Welfare Office.


APPENDIX 1

What does not count as means?

The following are the main items that do not count as means;

  • your own home
  • income from property assessed on its capital value
  • any payment made by the Department of Social Protection
  • any payment corresponding to Child Benefit from another EU Member State
  • the value of the first �20,000.00 of capital (single person) or �40,000.00 (married/civil partnership/cohabiting couple)
  • money received from a recognised charitable organisation (excluding a public or local authority)
  • the maintenance element of a higher education grant paid in respect of you, a qualified adult or qualified child/children for certain courses.
  • �400.00 of your annual earnings of a non rehabilitative nature. A further �265.00 of annual earnings is also disregarded if your spouse/partner is living with you or is wholly or mainly maintained by you. Alternatively, if you are wholly or mainly maintaining a single person or widow/er or a surviving civil partner over age 16 and s/he is caring for one or more of your children who normally reside with you, a disregard of �265.00 of your annual earnings is allowed in these circumstances. A further �133.00 of your annual earnings of a non rehabilitative nature is disregarded for each of your qualified children under age 18 (or under age 22 if in full time education).
  • income from rehabilitative employment of up to �120.00 per week plus half the difference between �120.00 and �350.00. (If you wish to avail of this disregard, please forward medical evidence from your GP to the Department, stating that the work you do is of a rehabilitative nature).
    When calculating means from employment of a rehabilitative nature we disregard social insurance contributions, health contributions, superannuation contributions and trade union subscriptions.
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance paid in respect of your qualified child
  • The yearly value of all income derived from compensation awarded

    (a) by the Compensation Tribunal established by the Minister for Health on 15.12.95, the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal established under Section 3 of the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal Act, 1997 (No. 34 of 1997), the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal established under Section 2 of the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal (Amendment) Act, 2002 (No. 21 of 2002), or by a court of competent jurisdiction, to compensate certain persons who have contracted Hepatitis C or Human Immunoglobulin Virus within the State from the use of Human Immunoglobulin Anti D, whole blood or other blood products, or

    (b) to persons who have disabilities caused by Thalidomide and

    (c) to persons by the Residential Institutions Redress Board

    (d) under the provisions of the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006 (No. 17 of 2006) to a relevant person within the meaning of that Act.
  • Child Benefit, Supplementary Welfare Allowance or allowances paid by Health Service Executive in respect of children who are placed in foster care or with relatives by the Health Service Executive
  • Mobility Allowance from the Department of Health and Children
  • income from employment of a casual nature by the HSE as a home help.
  • proceeds from the sale of your home subject to a limit of �190,500( see Section 3)

APPENDIX 2

OTHER INCREASES/BENEFITS THAT MAY BE PAYABLE TO YOU

Increase for living on a specified island

A special Increase for living on a specified island of �12.70 per week is paid to people in receipt of Blind Pension who normally reside on any one of prescribed islands off the coast of Ireland. (See Appendix 3)

Note: Entitlement to Increase for living on a specified island was extended in April 2003 to people under age 66 who are getting Blind Pension.

Living Alone Increase

If you qualify for Blind Pension and you reside alone or mainly alone you will be entitled to a Living Alone Increase of �7.70 per week. This allowance will be paid as part of your pension. See information leaflet Living Alone Increase (SW 36) for further details.

Fuel Allowance under the National Fuel Scheme

The National Fuel Scheme is intended to help households who are dependent on long-term social welfare or health board payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. The scheme operates for 26 weeks from October to April.

If you qualify for a Blind Pension, you may also be eligible to claim a Fuel Allowance of �20.00 per week.

See information leaflet National Fuel Scheme (SW 17) for further details.

Household Benefits Package

If you qualify for a Blind Pension, you may claim the benefits (detailed below) if you reside alone or only with certain excepted categories of people

  • Electricity Allowance
  • Free Television Licence
  • Telephone Allowance

[As an alternative to the electricity allowance, a person may claim a Natural Gas Allowance, Bottled Gas Allowance or Electricity (Group Account) Allowance].

Please see information leaflet Household Benefits Package (SW 107) for further details.

Free Travel

On qualifying for a Blind Pension, you will receive a Companion Free Travel Pass from the Department. This pass entitles you and any one companion age 16 or over to free travel on the services provided by certain public and private transport operators. Please refer to the relevant information leaflet on the Free Travel Scheme (SW 40) for further details.

Carer's Allowance/Benefit

If you need full time care and attention, the person looking after you may qualify for a Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit. Carer's Allowance is a means tested payment see information booklet SW41 for more details.

Carer's Benefit is a payment made to insured persons who leave the workforce to care for a person in need of full time care and attention see information booklet SW 49 for more details.

AFTER DEATH PAYMENTS

Six weeks after death payment

If you die while in receipt of a Blind Pension which includes an Increase for a Qualified Adult then payment of your pension (including IQA) will be paid to your spouse/partner for the six week period following your death. Your spouse/partner may qualify for a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension from the seventh week after the death.

Alternatively, if your qualified adult or qualified child dies, you will continue to receive the Increase for a Qualified Adult or Increase for a Qualified Child as part of your pension for the six week period following the death.

Bereavement Grant

A Bereavement Grant is a once off payment of �850.00. It is designed to provide financial assistance to alleviate funeral and other post bereavement expenses on the death of a pensioner or his/her qualified adult or child. Entitlement is based upon PRSI contributions. It is possible that the grant may be payable to the next of kin of a blind person pensioner if s/he had paid some social insurance contributions during his/her working life.

As soon as the Department is notified of the death of a pensioner or his/her dependants, we will issue an application form for the Bereavement Grant to the next of kin. Alternatively, claim forms are available from any post office, Social Welfare Local Office or by contacting our Blind Pension's Section at Social Welfare Services, College Road, Sligo. The deceased person's Death Certificate together with the funeral bill or receipt of payment should be sent to us along with the completed claim form. The grant is normally paid to the person responsible for the payment of the funeral bill.

For further details, please see our information leaflet SW 47.

Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant

A Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant of �6,000 is payable to a newly widowed parent on the death of his/her spouse. The widow/er must have at least one qualified child residing with him/her and be entitled to, or in receipt of, one of the following social welfare payments;

  • widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's contributory pension
  • death benefit under the occupational Injuries Scheme of the Department
  • One Parent Family Payment or
  • a Bereavement Grant.

APPENDIX 3

INCREASE FOR LIVING ON A SPECIFIED ISLAND

An Increase for living on a specified island for people in receipt of Blind Pension of �12.70 per week is paid to those who normally reside on any of the following off shore islands;

  • An tOile�n Ruaidh (also known as Island Roy), Co Donegal
  • �rainn Mh�r, Co Donegal
  • �rainn, Co Galway
  • Bere Island, Co Cork
  • Claggan Island, Co Mayo
  • Clare Island, Co Mayo
  • Cl�ire, Co Cork
  • Clynish, Co Mayo
  • Coney Island, Co Sligo
  • Dursey Island, Co Cork
  • Fenit Island, Co Kerry
  • Foynes Island, Co Limerick
  • Gabhla, Co Donegal
  • Heir Island (also known as Inishodriscol), Co Cork
  • Inis Bearachain, Co Galway
  • Inis Bigil, Co Mayo
  • Inis B� Finne, Co Donegal
  • Inis Fraoich Uachtarach, Co Donegal
  • Inis Me�in, Co Galway
  • Inis Mhic Chionnaith, Co Galway
  • Inis O�rr, Co Galway
  • Inis Treabhair, Co Galway
  • Inishboffin, Co Galway
  • Inishcottle, Co Mayo
  • Inishgort, Co Mayo
  • Inishlyre, Co Mayo
  • Inishnakillew, Co Mayo
  • Inishturk Beg, Co Mayo
  • Inishturk, Co Mayo
  • Inse Ghainnimh, Co Galway
  • Islandmore, Co Mayo
  • Lambay Island, Co Dublin
  • Long Island, Co Cork
  • Omey Island, Co Galway
  • Sherkin Island, Co Cork
  • Toraigh, Co Donegal
  • Whiddy Island, Co Cork
Last modified:30/01/2012
 

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