Farm Assist - Operational Guideline


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Guidelines used in processing claims

Index

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

PART 2 : ENTITLEMENT

PART 3 : CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

PART 4 : PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD


PART 1: INTRODUCTION

Description of Scheme

Farm Assist is a means-tested scheme for low-income farmers It was introduced on  7 April, 1999.

Information Leaflet:

Farm Assist - SW 27

Application Form

FARM 1

Legislation

The main legislative provisions are contained in Chapter 3, Part 2 (Social Assistance) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005.

Means are assessed in accordance with the provisions of Part II of the Third Schedule to the Consolidation Act 2005.

Regulations

General provisions with regard to claims and payment are contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Payments Provisions) Regulations 142 of 2007. Provisions with regard to the award of credited contributions are contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Contributions and Insurability) Regulations 1996 to 2005.

Administration

The scheme is administered by staff at the Department's network of Intreo Centres and Branch Offices throughout the country.

Guidelines for staff on the operation of the Farm Assist are issued by the Regional Support Unit , Gandon House, Dublin 1.

PART 2 : ENTITLEMENT

Qualifying Conditions in Summary

The eligibility conditions for Farm Assist (FA) are. A person must:

  • be aged between 18 and 66 years, and
  • be engaged in farming, and
  • satisfy a means test.
Qualifying Conditions in Detail

a) Aged 18 - 66

A person must be aged between 18 and 66 years. The onus is on the claimant to produce satisfactory verification of his/her date of birth. Acceptable forms of identity are the Public Services Card (PSC), a Current Valid Passport (a Current Valid National Identity Card is acceptable for EEA Nationals) or a Current Valid Driver's Licence or Current Learners Permit and a Standard Birth Certificate (not photocopy) used for Social Welfare Services.

Also, if not already verified on CRS/CB screen, dates of birth should be verified for all adult and child dependents using the Standard Birth Certificate for Social Welfare Services.

b) Engaged in Farming 

"Farmer" means a person engaged in farming

"Farming" means farming farmland in the State, including commonage, which is

  • owned and used by the claimant for the purposes of husbandry, or
  • leased and used by the claimant for the purposes of husbandry.

If the claimant is farming land for the purposes of husbandry but does not own or lease that land, s/he will be considered to be a farmer only if the land does not form part of a larger holding.

"Husbandry" means working of the land with the object of extracting the traditional produce of the land. This includes the cultivation of crops or trees (forestry) and the keeping of livestock and poultry.

Deciding Officers must firstly satisfy themselves that the land in question is FARMLAND. Thereafter, the two key issues are TENURE (the conditions or period of holding land) and USAGE.

Tenure should be verified by reference to relevant source documentation, e.g. Land Registry Office, lease agreement, etc. Ownership may include joint-ownership. Where the land is neither owned nor leased, Farm Assist may be payable only where the land used does not form part of a larger holding. This includes cases where the claimant is farming a holding in respect of which s/he has an intestacy share which has not been officially registered. It also includes situations where two or more siblings with an intestacy share in a farm jointly manage the same holding.

Where two or more persons farm what may originally have been a single unit, but is now claimed to be made up of separate units, Deciding Officers must satisfy themselves that what was the original farm is now managed as two separate entities/businesses, e.g. that the claimant has his/her own Herd Number.

In ALL CASES, the claimant must be working the land for the purposes of extracting the traditional produce of the land.

It is not sufficient for a person simply to own a farm of land. As outlined above, the legislation prescribes that the claimant him/herself must be engaged in farming. Therefore a person who owns a farm of land, but leases, lets or rents out the entire holding does not satisfy this condition and cannot, therefore, qualify for FA. If, however, the claimant is personally engaged in farming part of the holding and leases/lets/rents a portion of the farm to another person, s/he may qualify for a payment.

There is no minimum acreage requirement. Deciding Officers must, however, satisfy themselves that the land would reasonably be considered to be a farm which is used by the claimant for the purposes of husbandry. Thus, where a claimant resides in a dwelling on a large site, e.g. one or two acres, and s/he has a large vegetable garden, it may be reasonable for the Deciding Officer to conclude that, while the claimant may be engaged in husbandry, the land does not constitute a farm of land and the person is not engaged in farming. Conversely, the claimant may be engaged in intensive farming on a small acreage, e.g. pig or mushroom farming, which would satisfy the condition.

To qualify for FA, a person must satisfy a means test. The person's weekly means,  must be below the rate of FA which would otherwise be payable to the person. Means are rounded to the nearest €1.00 (50c being rounded upwards).

As qualification for FA is based on the claimant's total means, a farmer may have income from a variety of sources, e.g. other self-employment, insurable employment, capital, etc., and still qualify for a payment. Means from all sources are added together to determine total weekly means. 

Information relating to the assesment of Farm Assist means is listed below. See the MEANS ASSESSMENT Guidelines for additional information.

Farm Income or other self-employment

Income from Self employment engaged in by either/both the customer and/or the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant, both on and off the farm, is assessable as means. A disregard for all costs necessarily incurred in carrying out the self-employment is allowed, subject to the following:

  • From 3rd April 2013 the net income is assessed at 100% adn the income disregard for children was removed
  • From 1st January 2012 to 2nd April 2013 85% (prior to 1/1/12 it was 70%) of the income less expenses incurred was assessed as means. An income disregard of €127 (was €254.00 prior to 1/1/12) per annum of the net income was disregarded for each of the first 2 qualified children and €190.50 (was €381.00 prior to 1/1/12) per annum is disregarded for each subsequent child.

Aggregation of income and expenses from self-employment

The total income which may reasonably be expected to be received from all forms of self-employment by the claimant and his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant, less the expenses necessarily incurred is assessable as means.

REPS, SACS and GLAS 

Payments received under the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) scheme or GLAS (Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme) are assessed separately from other farm income.

This income is assessed on an annual basis as follows:

  • the first €2,540.00 is disregarded, then
  • 50% of the balance is disregarded, then
  • expenses necessarily incurred in complying with REPS/SAC measures are disregarded, and
  • the remainder is assessed as means.

It is important that cases are reviewed annually.

Income from Leasing of Milk Quota

Income received from leasing a Milk Quota is assessable as cash income, i.e. it is assessed on a euro for euro basis. 

Insurable Employment

Where a farmer is also engaged in insurable employment (under a contract of service), the average assessable weekly earnings are calculated using the earnings in a representative period (usually the 13 weeks immediately prior to the date of claim).

Calculation of means from insurable employment

On 26/9/07 the manner in which means were assessed changed. They are assessed on gross earnings less deductions for PRSI, superannuation (including AVC's and PRSA's), the pension levy and union dues. Deductions in respect of income tax, VHI (BUPA etc.) and travel expenses are not allowed.

Claimants receive a personal rate of payment and if they have a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant are paid a family rate (personal and full adult/child dependant rates). Means are calculated on assessable income less the relevant disregards, the balance is assessed at 60%. In the case of a couple, both are assessed in exactly the same manner, assessable income less the relevant disregards, 60% of the balance is assessed as means. A disregard of €20.00 per day up to a maximum of 3 days, €60.00, applies to both the customer and the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant if either/both are insurably employed, 60% of what remains is assessable as means. A disregard of €20.00 per day up to a maximum of 3 days, €60.00, applies to both the customer and the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant if either/both are insurably employed, 60% of what remains is assessable as means.

NOTE: The FA payment is based on the claimant's average assessable weekly earnings, NOT average daily earnings. Thus a farmer who is also insurably employed will receive a set weekly rate of Farm Assist even if s/he works a different number of days each week.

Calculation of means - Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant in Insurable Employment

The assessment of means for Farm Assist includes the assessment of a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant earnings from insurable employment.

Definition of Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant

  • a) Married couples – the term ‘spouse’ refers to each person of a married couple
  • b) 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.
  • c) ‘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”.  

Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant Working from Home or in receipt of IB

The €20.00 a day disregard applies (maximum €60.00) to a working spouse/civil partner/cohabitant where s/he has insurable earnings even if working from home, or if in receipt of insurable earnings while claiming IB.

Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant Working Abroad

Where a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is working abroad in insurable employment (outside the Republic of Ireland) the €20.00 a day applies (maximum €60.00).

Employment as Home Help

From 1st January 2012 income from employment as a home help is assessed, for Farm Assist purposes, in the same manner as all other income from insurable employment irrespective of whether it is the claimant or his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant who is employed as a home help.

Capital (Investments and Savings)

Capital includes:

  • cash-in-hand,
  • money held on deposit (e.g. in Savings/Current Accounts)
  • the value of investments, stocks and shares (including Co-Op shares),
  • property which is, or is capable of being, invested or otherwise put to profitable use (but not being a farm of land owned/leased by the claimant/spouse/civil partner/cohabitant).
Capital Assessment

All capital belonging to the claimant and/or his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is assessed using the following formula effective from 1 June 2005:

  • The first €20,000 of the capital is disregarded.
  • Next €10,000 is assessed at €1 per €1,000.
  • Next €10,000 is assessed at €2 per €1,000.
  • Excess of €40,000 is assessed at €4 per €1,000.

Amounts Less Than €1,000

The assessment only applies to units of €1,000. Therefore all amounts should be rounded down to the nearest €1,000. Example: A claimant has capital to the value of €30,700.00. This is rounded down to €30,000.00. The first €20,000.00 is disregarded, the remaining €10,000.00 is accessed at the rate of €1.00 per €10,000.00. Capital means is €10.00.

Previous Formulae

27 October 2000 – 31 May 2005

                                                                  Weekly Means

    First £10,000 (€12,697.38)                    Nil
    Next £10,000 (€12,697.38)                   £1 per £1,000 (€1.27 per €1,269.74)
    Next £10,000 €12,697.38)                    £2 per £1,000 (€2.54 per €1,269.74)
    Excess £30,000 (€38,092.14)               £4 per £1,000 (€5.08 per €1,269.74)

 

Amounts Less Than £1,000 (€1,269.74)

The assessment only applied to units of £1,000 (€1,269.74 ). Therefore all amounts were rounded down to the nearest unit of £1,000 (€1,269.74).

Prior to 27 September 2000

Where the application of the capital assessment on 27 September 2000 reduced the rate of Farm Assist below the amount payable immediately prior to 27 September 2000, the rate of payment was not reduced. This provision did not apply where the amount of capital on which the assessment was based at 27 September 2000 was found to have increased.

Pre-27 September 2000:

The following formula was used to calculate the weekly value of capital:

  1. the first £2,000 (€2,539.48) was disregarded,
  2. the next £20,000 (€25,394.76) was assessed at 7.5%, and
  3. the balance over £22,000 (€27,934.24) was assessed at 15%.  

Seasonal Employment

Where the claimant and/or spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is engaged in insurable employment on a seasonal basis, the earnings are assessed only during the actual period of employment.

Other Income

Other income e.g. income from an occupational pension, income from the letting/leasing of land is assessed on a euro for euro basis.

Disqualifications

Legislation prescribes that a person shall be disqualified from receipt of Farm Assist in respect of any period where s/he is on

  • Back to Work Allowance (BTWA), or
  • Part-Time Job Incentive (PTJI), or
  • Area Enterprise Allowance (AEA), or
  • Community Employment (CE), or
  • Rural Social Scheme (RSS), or
  • attending a full-time course of study,(for the duration of the academic year, for the summer months in between academic years and for the 3 months after the person has completed the Leaving Certificate Examination or for the 3 months after the person leaves full-time second level education (whichever is the later).

Budget 2014 introduced changes for new participants on SOLAS Training Courses from 1 January 2014. New participants on courses from 1 January 2014 will NOT be paid the training allowance on top of their Social Welfare payment. They will continue to receive their Social Welfare entitlement from DSP while on a SOLAS training course. Where a training allowance is in payment before 1 January 2014, there will be no change i.e. the training allowance may continue to be paid on top of the Farm Assist.

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 getting is in receipt of a training allowance.

Non-assessable Income

Income received by the claimant or the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant from any of the following is not assessable for FA purposes:

  1. Social Welfare payments,
  2. income from a bonus under a scheme administered by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands for the making of special grants to parents/guardians resident in the Gaeltacht/Breac-Gaeltacht of children attending primary schools,
  3. income from Sceim na bhFoghlaimeoiri Gaeilge, a scheme, in respect of a person who is temporarily resident with a qualified claimant, administered by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Any income received in respect of such a temporary resident is not assessable for Farm Assist,
  4. a disability/wound pension under the Army Pensions Acts, 1923 to 1980 (or combination of such) not exceeding €101.58 per year, paid to the claimant or the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant,
  5. any moneys received from a charitable organisation,
  6. training allowances while undergoing a course of rehabilitation training provided by an organisation approved by the Minister for Health and Children,
  7. an amount not exceeding €134.00 per year received in respect of work as an outworker under a charitable scheme,
  8. where the claimant or his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is engaged on a seasonal basis in the occupation of fishing, half of the yearly income of €153.00 or less and one third of yearly income in excess of €153.00 but not exceeding €381.00 per year. Income in excess of €381.00 is fully assessable.
  9. payments by a health service executive in respect of a foster child
  10. in such cases as may be prescribed, any monies received by way of a maintenance grant under a scheme administered by the Minister for Education and Science under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992,
  11. any monies received by way of a mobility allowance payable under Section 61 of the Health Act, 1970,
  12. €1,270.00 per year from the harvesting of seaweed,
  13. payments by a health service executive in respect of the provision of accommodation for a child under Section 5 of the Child Care Act, 1991
  14. Compensation awards by the Compensation Tribunal established by the Minister for Health on 15.12.1995, the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal 1997, the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal 2002 or compensation awards by a court of competent jurisdiction to persons who have contracted Hepatitis C or HIV from contaminated blood products, together with subsequent income from the investment of that money.
  15. Compensation awards by way of the Residential Institutions Redress Board established under section 3 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 (No. 13 of 2002), together with the subsequent income from investment of that money.
  16. Compensation awards to persons who have a disability caused by Thalidomide together with subsequent income from the investment of that money.
Payment of Increase for Qualified Adult Allowance (IQA)

A full increase for a qualified adult is payable except where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of a Social Welfare payment/HSE payment or is in receipt of a training allowance in respect of a Solas/ETB/VTOS course.

Customers who have a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant are paid a family rate (personal and full adult/child dependant rates). A disregard of €20.00 per day up to a maximum of 3 days, €60.00, applies to both the customer and the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant if either/both are insurably employed, 60% of what remains is assessable as means (Assessable income less the relevant disregards, the balance is assessed at 60% as means). In the case of a couple, both of the couple are assessed in exactly the same manner, assessable income less the relevant disregards, and 60% of the balance is assessed as means.

Payment of Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC)

From 26th September 2007 a full increase for a qualified child is payable except for cases where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is in receipt of a Social Welfare payment/HSE payment or is in receipt of a training allowance in respect of a Solas/VTOS course. In such cases only half IQC is payable.

(See IQC guideline for further details)

Benefit & Privilege

Perantal income (Benefit and Privilege) is NOT assessable as means for Farm Assist customers who reside with their parents.

Maximum Payments (Max Pay) & Limitations
Max Pay

A Max Pay is where one of a couple is claiming a means tested payment (JA, PRETA or Farm Assist) and the other is claiming a benefit/pension payment (See list below). It is a ceiling on the total amount which may be paid to a couple. To work out the May Pay for a couple, calculate what each would qualify for if they claimed for the family. As the family rate may differ for each of the couple it is important to work out what each would receive if they claimed for the family. If each of the couple claims separately, they may not receive the Maximum Payment.

Insurance based payments:

  • Jobseekers Benefit
  • Illness Benefit
  • Injury Benefit
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Partial Capacity Benefit
  • Disablement Pension (when paid with Illness Benefit or Unemployability
    Supplement)
  • State Pension (Con)
Max Pay Example 1

 

One of the couple is claiming FA and has no means assessed against him/her, the other person of the couple is claiming JB, this claimant is fully unemployed. The couple cannot be paid more than the highest family rate.

JB Claim

 

FA Claim

Pers rate:                     €188.00

 

Pers rate:                     €188.00

QA                              €124.80

 

QA:                             €124.80

Total:                           €312.80

 

Total:                           €312.80

Max Pay for the family is €312.60. If each claimed separately they would receive the following.

JB Claim

 

FA Claim

Pers rate:                     €188.00

 

Pers rate:                     €188.00

€188.00 +€188.00 = €376.00.  This is greater than the Max Pay therefore the means assessed payment must be reduced so that the max pay of the couple (€312.80 in this case) is not exceeded. 

€188.00 +€188.00 = €376.00. The amount of €376.00 less the Max Pay of €312.80 is €63.20.   Therefore the FA (means tested payment) is reduced by €63.20, €188 - €63.20 = €124.80.  In this case the JB customer receives €188.00 and the FA customer receives €124.80, total €312.80, which is the Max Pay.

Max Pay Example 2

One of the couple is claiming FA, this customer has no means assessed against him/her and the other person of the couple is claiming JB, this customer is fully unemployed.  In this case the JB customer only qualifies for a reduced personal rate of JB.

JB Claim

 

FA Claim

Pers rate:                       €84.50

 

Pers rate:                     €188.00

QA                                €80.90

 

QA:                             €124.80

Total:                           €165.40

 

Total:                           €312.80

Max Pay for the family is €312.80. If each claimed separately they would receive the following.

JB Claim

 

FA Claim

Pers rate:                     €84.50

 

Pers rate:                     €188.00

€84.50 + €188.00 = €272.50

In this case if the couple claim separately they will not receive the max pay.  They will receive a total of €272.50. It is more beneficial financially if the FA customer claims for the family.

 

Limitations

A Limitation is where a couple are both claiming a means tested payments (e.g.) Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA), Farm Assist (FA), Pre-Retirement Allowance (PRETA) etc. To work out the Limitation rate that applies to a couple, work out what each of the couple would qualify for if they claimed for the family. As the family rate may differ for each of the couple it is important to work out what each would receive if they claimed for the family. If each of the couple claims separately, they each receive half of the family rate that applies to them so long as they would qualify for that amount in their own right

If each of the couple qualifies for the same family rate of payment each receive half the family rate.

If each of the couple claim separately and each qualify for a different family rate, neither of the couple can receive a payment greater than they would qualify for in their own right.    

Limitation Example 1
 
One of the couple is claiming FA and the other person of the couple is claiming JA.  They have no means assessed against them.

JA Claim

 

FA Claim

Pers rate:                     €188.00

 

Pers rate:                     €188.00

QA                              €124.80

 

QA:                             €124.80

Total:                           €312.80

 

Total:                           €312.80

In this case each receive half the family rate that applies to them €312.80/2 = €156.40. Each receives €156.40.

Limitation Example 2

One of the couple is 21 years of age and qualifies for €100.00 on JA. The other person of the couple qualifies for €188.00 on FA. They have no means assessed against them.

JA Claim

 

FA Claim

Pers rate:                     €100.00

 

Pers rate:                     €188.00

QA                              €100.00

 

QA:                             €124.80

Total:                           €200.00

 

Total:                           €312.80

If they claim separately

JA customer receives half the family rate €100.00 (€100.00 + €100.00 = €200.00/2 = €100.00)

FA customer receives half the family rate €156.40 (€188.00 + €124.80 = €312.80/2 = €156.40)

In this case the JA customer receives €100.00 and the FA customer receives €156.40.

€100 + €156.80 = €256.80. The amount of €256.80 is less than the limitation of €312.80.  It is more beneficial financially if the FA customer claims for the family.

Limitation 'Saver' Clause

In the case of a farmer who immediately prior to the payment of FA was in receipt of JA or PRETA on/before 7th April 1999, the total amount payable and limitation of payment shall be calculated in accordance with the pre-07th April 1999 provisions (See JA/Jobseeker's Allowance Guideline - relevant section under heading Rates Structure).

JB Qualification

A person cannot receive JB and Farm Assist in respect of the same period. If a claimant has an underlying entitlement to both, s/he may only claim one payment. The claimant should be informed of the differences between both schemes (i.e.):

  • the comparative weekly rates of payment (i.e. full/graduated rate of JB in respect of days of unemployment viz Farm Assist less means),
  • entitlement to Secondary Benefits (Fuel and Christmas Bonus) on Farm Assist
  • entitlement to payment of IQC in respect of school-going child/ren over 18 on Farm Assist,
  • unemployment, availability, genuinely seeking work, substantial loss of employment , etc. conditions for receipt of JB and requirement to sign-on.
  • taxable status : JB is taxable, Farm Assist is not.

NOTE: A claimant may choose to alternate between Farm Assist and JB.

Duration of Payment

FA is payable for as long as the qualifying conditions are satisfied.

Rates Structure

The Scheduled Rate of payment consists of a personal rate (payable in respect of the claimant), with increases payable in respect of a qualified adult and a qualified child, as appropriate. The weekly rate of payment due is the scheduled rate less the means assessed.

Education and Training

Periods spent on Farm Assist count towards qualification for:

  • FÁS Training Courses, and
  • Community Employment (CE), and
  • Back to Work Allowance (BTWA), and
  • Rural Social Scheme (RSS), and
  • Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) excluding VTOS courses.

NOTE: Any number of Farm Assist claims may be combined to satisfy the duration of receipt of relevant social welfare payment condition for BTEA qualification (i.e. 156 days), provided that each FA claim is within 52 weeks of a previous claim.

A person in receipt of Farm Assist may qualify for a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) without first switching back to a jobseeker's payment.

Entitlement where a claimant or spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is on an Educational/Training Programme (Solas/ETB)

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

Budget 2014 introduced changes for new participants on SOLAS Training Courses from 1 January 2014. New participants on courses from 1 January 2014 will NOT be paid the training allowance on top of their Social Welfare payment. They will continue to receive their Social Welfare entitlement from DSP while on a SOLAS training course. Where a training allowance is in payment before 1 January 2014, there will be no change i.e. the training allowance may continue to be paid in addition to Farm Assist.

(b) SPOUSE/CIVIL PARTNER/COHABITANT

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

Where the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant of a Farm Assist 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 dependant. The Training Authority/ VEC is responsible for paying the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant a personal rate plus rate Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC), if applicable, for the duration of the course. If a Limitation/Max Pay rate is in payment the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant the partner will continue to receive that rate on the relevant course.

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

(ii) Spouse/Civil Partner/Cohabitant on other Training/Educational Courses

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.

NOTE 1: - A Qualified Adult Increase (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.

NOTE 2: - Payments received by a spouse/civil partner/cohabitant in respect of expenses necessarily incurred in attending a course of education or training, e.g. travel and meal expenses, are disregarded when calculating total gross weekly income.

Secondary Benefits

As Farm Assist is a long-term scheme, Secondary Benefits may be payable from the start of the claim. Customers wishing to apply for the Fuel Allowance should be issued with the relevant application form FA1.

Carer's Allowance

From 27 September 2007 a person who is claiming certain Social Welfare Payments (exceptions listed below) who is providing full time care to another person may 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 providing they are not in receipt of any other payment. They will also be eligible for a Free Travel Pass and may qualify for Household Benefits. A Farm Assist claimant working less than 15 hours per week providing full time care to another person may qualify for Carers Allowance.

  • Jobseeker's Benefit
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Back to Work Allowance
  • Family Income Supplement

If the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant of a claimant on a Social Welfare payment qualifies for Carer’s Allowance it will be awarded at half the personal rate and the IQA will continue to be paid for the Carer.

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

Overlapping Provisions

Farm Assist is not payable to a person who is in receipt of any other Social Welfare payment except Child Benefit or certain payments under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. An increase in respect of a qualified adult ( IQA) is not payable if the qualified adult is in receipt of any Social Welfare payment except Disablement Pension, Orphans Pension or certain payments under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.

Farm Assist Customer who reaches 66 years

Under section 159 of SW Consolidation Act 2005 where a claimant in receipt of Farm Assist immediately prior to becoming entitled to the State Pension Non Contributory, may receive either the Non Contributory Pension OR Farm Assist   whichever is higher.

PART 3: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims

A claim for Farm Assist should be made on the form FARM1. Applications can be made in person or by post.

Documentation

The customer must supply all documentation deemed necessary to support the application for Farm Assist.

Late Claims

An application for Farm assist is effective from date of application. However, a claim may be backdated for up to 6 months where "good cause" is shown for the delay in making the claim, provided the claimant can prove to the satisfaction of the Deciding Officer or Appeals Officer that s/he satisfied the qualifying conditions for receipt of payment during that period.

See guideline on " Claims and Late Claims" for more information.

Investigation of Claims

Claim should be referred to a Social Welfare Inspector for completion of the MRF and IN 93. The completed forms then passed to a Deciding Officer for a decision.

Decisions

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

A written notification of award (FARM 5) issues to the claimant. Where the customer does not qualify for a payment a written notification is issued to the claimant.

Appeals

A claimant who is dissatisfied with the Deciding Officer's decision e.g. claim dissallowed or awarded a reduced rate allowance, may appeal the decision. The appeal should be made, in writing to the Chief Appeals Officer, Social Welfare Appeals Office, D'Olier House, Dublin 2, within 21 days of notification of the Deciding Officer's decision, stating the grounds of appeal. The Appeals Officer can decide the matter summarily or may deal with the case by way of an oral hearing.

PART 4: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Method of Payment

A claimant has an option of two payment methods

  1. directly into a Bank or Building Society account (not a mortgage account)
    or
  2. post draft at a Post Office of the claimant's choice.
Annual Review

A Declaration Form, FARM12, will issue to the claimant on an annual basis requiring her/him to declare that s/he has an ongoing entitlement to Farm Assist. S/he will be required to declare any change in his/her family circumstances, inclusive of means, which may effect his/her entitlement to Farm Assist.

Change in Personal Details

Any change in the personal details of the claimant including any change of income should be notified to the claimant's Intreo Centre/Branch Office of the Department. Such changes may affect the claimant's entitlement(s).

Change in Dependency Details

A claimant is required to inform his/her Intreo Centre/Branch Office of any change in their spouse/civil partner/cohabitants status or any change in the circumstances of the children. Weekly means should be reviewed accordingly.

Credits

Credited contributions are only awarded to claimants  who were in receipt of a credit as Smallholder on Jobseeker's Allowance prior to the introduction of Farm Assist in April 1999. See Intreo Centre/Branch Office.

Farm Assist was introduced on 7th April 1999. From 1st January 2007, under the terms of Section 12 of the Social Welfare Act 2006, Farm Assist customers are required to pay a Class S PRSI contribution if their income is above the relevant threshold.

If a person's income is below the threshold where they have no liability to pay Class S contribution, then that person may apply to become a voluntary contributor. See: SW8 - Guide to Voluntary Contributions.

Linking

Periods spent on Farm Assist do not link claims, Farm Assist is employment. For example, if a person transfers from Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) to Farm Assist for more than 13 weeks, any subsequent JB claim will not link with the previous JB claim but will constitute the start of a new Period of Interruption of Employment (PIE). Similarly, if a person transfers from Jobseekers Allowance (JA) to Farm Assist for more than 52 weeks, any subsequent JA claim will not link with the previous JA claim but will constitute a new Continuous Period of Unemployment.

Last modified:29/04/2016
 

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