Working Family Payment (WFP), formerly known as Family Income Supplement (FIS)


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INTERNAL GUIDELINES FOR THE PROCESSING AND SUPPORT OF CLAIMS

INDEX

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT
Description of scheme
Application forms and information leaflet
Legislation
Administration
Main conditions to qualify
Qualifying conditions in detail
What is Weekly Family Income?
How is Weekly Family Income calculated?
How much WFP is payable?
How long is WFP payable?
When and how is it paid?

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATIONS AND DECISIONS PROCEDURES
Signing of the Declaration
Timing of processing
Outstanding Information / Documentation
Decision
Prescribed time for making an application
Debt

PART 3: POST DECISION PROCEDURES
Duration of payment
Suspension of payment
Re-instatement of payment
Swap
Changes in circumstances after award
Relationship Breakdown
Back-dating
Review / Appeals


PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

Description of Scheme

WFP, which was introduced in 1984, is a social welfare payment which provides an income support for employees on low earnings with families. As of the 1st January 2018, WFP will be renamed Working Family Payment (WFP).

Application Forms and Information Leaflet

There are 2 application forms.  New applications are made on a form WFP1.  Renewal applications are made on a form WFP 2.

The WFP information leaflet is SW 22.

Legislation

The main provisions are contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended, primarily Part 6, Sections 227 to 233 and in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control Regulations) 2007 to 2017, as amended, primarily Part 6, Articles 172 to 177.

Administration

New WFP applications are administered by: Working Family Payment Section, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Government Offices, Ballinalee Road, Longford.

Renewal applications are administered by: Working Family Payment Section, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, St Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Qualifying Conditions

  • The applicant(s) must be engaged in full-time remunerative employment as employee(s).
  • The applicant(s) must have at least 1 qualified child, who normally resides with them or is part of a family wholly or mainly supported by them.
  • The Weekly Family Income must be less than a set limit for their family size.

Qualifying Conditions in detail

The applicant(s) must be engaged in full-time remunerative employment as employee(s)

There are 4 parts to this condition:

1. This employment must be ‘full-time’.

This is defined as not less than 38 hours every fortnight.  Any combination that reaches 38 hours each fortnight is acceptable.  The applicant could work week on/week off, e.g. 38 hours one week and none the next.  Or they could work 19 hours each week or 10 hours one week and 28 hours the following week; as long as they work 38 hours every fortnight they can satisfy this condition.

In addition, if the applicant has a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, their hours of employment can be combined to satisfy the 38 hours every fortnight as long as their hours also fulfil the 4 parts of the condition that they are engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee.

If the hours of employment work out at less than 38 each fortnight, the application will be refused.

The employment must be expected to last at least 3 months.

2. The employment must be ‘remunerative’.  This means that it must be paid employment.  Voluntary employment or unpaid work cannot be used to satisfy the condition of being engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee.

For example if an applicant works 15 hours each week in Dunnes’ Stores and works 5 hours a week as a voluntary counsellor, they will not satisfy the conditions to qualify for WFP as they are only engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee for 30 hours each fortnight.

3. The employment must be ‘as an employee’.  WFP is a supplement for low paid employees.  It is not payable to  self-employed people, unless they also have paid employment as employees for at least 38 hours each fortnight, in addition to their self-employment

There are other social welfare payments available to the self-employed such as the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or Jobseeker’s Allowance for the self-employed.

Employees are employed under a contract of service.

Note:
Applications can succeed from people who are employees of their own limited company.

The matter would normally be referred to a local Social Welfare Inspector for 2 reasons:

I. To ensure that they are a genuine employee.  This may require a referral to the Department’s Scope Section, if a decision on the insurability of this employment has not already been given.

II. To determine what other income(s) the applicant and their spouse/civil partner/cohabitant (where applicable) are taking from the company.

4. Full-time remunerative employment as an employee specifically excludes a number of employment schemes/incentives, such as Community Employment Schemes, Rural Social Economy, Workplace, Tús, JobBridge, Rural Employment Scheme, Gateway and Partial Capacity Benefit.

Note:
Under EU Regulations, the Competent Authority that deals with a Family Benefit is determined by the EU State in which the worker pays their Social Insurance.  Accordingly, claims for WFP are only acceptable from workers who are paying their social insurance to the Irish State.

If an employee pays their social insurance to another EU State, it is to that State that they should make a claim for Family Benefits.

The applicant(s) must have at least 1 qualified child, who normally resides with them or is part of a family wholly or mainly supported by them

A qualified child is one under 18 years of age or a child between the ages of 18 and 22 who is attending full-time day education.

The applicant can claim for a qualified child who normally resides with them.  If a child is in college, they are still considered to normally reside with their parent(s).

If an applicant has a child living with a former spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, they can claim for WFP in respect of that child provided that the WFP applicant is wholly or mainly maintaining the former spouse, civil partner or cohabitant.

Wholly or mainly maintaining’ means that the other adult does not have an income in their own right in excess of €100 per week, is not cohabiting and is not in receipt of a social welfare income support payment in their own right.

The Weekly Family Income must be less than a limit for their family size

There are set income limits for each family size.  Family size is determined by the number of qualified children.  Weekly Family Income must be below these set income limits in order for an applicant to qualify.

The current limits are as follows:

Family Size

Weekly Family Income Limit

Annual Family Income Limit

1 child

€511.00

€26,572.00

2 children

€612.00

€31,824.00

3 children

€713.00

€37,076.00

4 children

€834.00

€43,368.00

5 children

€960.00

€49,920.00

6 children

€1,076.00

€55,952.00

7 children

€1,212.00

€63,024.00

8 children

€1,308.00

€68,016.00

 

What is Weekly Family Income?

Weekly Family Income is the amount of all income received in a week by a family.  Examples of family income are earnings, social welfare payments, maintenance payments, income from self-employment, rental income, farm income or any contribution to your household from an ex-spouse, ex-civil partner, ex-cohabitant or the parent(s) of any of your children.

When applying for WFP, all income must be disclosed.

The following are deducted from the Weekly Family Income:

Income Tax
Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI)
The Universal Social Charge (USC)
Superannuation or pension-related deductions from salary
Income of a child

The following are disregarded when calculating Weekly Family Income:

  • Child Benefit
  • Death Benefit (Orphan’s) Pension
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)
  • Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)
  • Payments from the HSE in respect of a child who is boarded out.
  • Rent Allowance
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance
  • Any income received under Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, in respect of a person who is temporarily resident with the applicant, together with any other income received in respect of such temporary resident
  • Any payment or payments made directly or indirectly by or on behalf of the Minister for Justice, Equality and  to a person, which has or have been determined in accordance with the Magdalen Commission Report dated May 2013 on the establishment of an ex gratia scheme and related matters for the benefit of those women who were admitted to and worked in the Magdalen Laundries
  • Any payments from charitable organisations in the form of assistance to persons in need

How is Weekly Family Income calculated?

In order to calculate Weekly Family Income, it is broken down into 3 sources:

  1. Earnings from employment
  2. Income from any form of self-employment
  3. Income from any other source

Earnings from employment

In the case of a new application for WFP, the Deciding Officer usually bases their decision on the average weekly gross earnings up to the date of the application.
In the case of an application for a WFP renewal, it is usually based on the average weekly gross earnings in the previous tax year, using a P60.
However, under Article 173(2) the Deciding Officer may have regard to other periods if they deem it appropriate.

Income from any form of self-employment

Income from self-employment is calculated or estimated by dividing the income in the 12 months preceding the date of claim by 52.
Applicants with self-employment are asked to submit their latest set of accounts. If an applicant is unable or unwilling to provide the latest set of accounts for their form of self-employment, an investigation by a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI) will be required.

Income from any other source

Income from any other source is calculated by the normal weekly amount of such income.

Note: Rental Income is the amount the tenants pay.  The only deductions/disregards from Weekly Family Income are those listed above. 

Social Welfare legislation does not allow for the disregard from Weekly Family Income of expenditure on capital improvements or paying the mortgage(s) on your primary or secondary residences, management fees or expenditure on weekly groceries.

However, unlike other Social Welfare schemes which are Means-Tested, WFP is an income supplement and is an Income-Tested scheme.

Capital assessments are not carried out.

This means that Savings in the Bank / Post Office / Credit Union and the capital value of property/assets owned are not assessed.

How much WFP is payable?

WFP payable at 60% of the difference between the set income limit for a given family size and the Weekly Family Income.
Example:


Assessable Earnings from employment

€243.10

Farm Income

€19.23

Rental Income

€115.38

Disablement Pension

€43.80

Weekly Family Income

€421.51

 

 

Income Limit (3 children)

€713.00

 

 

Difference

€291.49

WFP (60%)

€174.89

 

 

WFP payable (Rounded)

€175.00

 

How long is WFP payable?

Once awarded, WFP is payable for a maximum period of 52 weeks.

However, once the 52 week award period has expired, an employee must re-apply if they feel they still have an entitlement. These applications are called Renewal applications.

Approximately 8 weeks before the expiry of a claim, Renewal application forms are issued to the customer.  However, whether a WFP recipientreceives a Renewal form or not, the obligation is on them to submit an application within 4 weeks of the expiry of their claim, in order for the next claim to start from the first Thursday following the expiry of the old claim.

If they re-apply within 4 weeks of the expiry of a 52 week award, any new entitlement will be renewed from the day after the expiry.
Applications received more than 4 weeks after the expiry of a claim are registered as new applications and will be awarded from the first Thursday after receipt.

When and how is it paid?

WFP is payable on a Thursday.  Each payment is made in advance. So payment one Thursday pays the applicant up to the following Wednesday.

WFP is paid either by:

  • Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) into Bank and Building Society accounts as well as some Credit Union accounts or
  • Post Offices by Electronic Interface Transfer (EIT).

Multiple Payments

The multiple payments provisions in primary legislation preclude payment of WFP at the same time as jobseeker’s benefit, state pension (transition), jobseeker’s allowance, pre-retirement allowance or farm assist (Section 247(6) of the Consolidation Act) and also provide that working family payment is only payable for six weeks in conjunction with illness benefit or injury benefit (Section 247(7)).

Article 175(2) of SI 142 of 2007 excludes from the definition of remunerative full-time employment, people engaged in a work placement programme, Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme, National Internship Scheme or Tús. This effectively provides that payments under these schemes are not payable at the same time as working family payment.


PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATIONS AND DECISIONS PROCEDURES

Examination of application

When a Deciding Officer examines a WFP application, s/he will check whether all questions have been answered and whether supporting documentation has been supplied.

Where information/documentation is absent, the Deciding Officer will normally write to the applicant seeking this.

The applicant is normally given 21 days to reply.  They are informed that failure to reply will result in the closure of the claim.

If there is insufficient information in relation to the employment, the Deciding Officer would normally phone, write or email the Employer for further information.

The claim will not be closed due to delays in replying by an employer.

If after reminders the employer has failed to reply, the case will be referred to a local Social Welfare Inspector for investigation.

If at any time the Deciding Officer feels that a Social Welfare Inspector investigation is required to determine the entitlement, it is open to them send the case out.

Decision

Once a Deciding Officer is satisfied that they have sufficient evidence, they will proceed by making a decision on entitlement to WFP. The applicant is notified in writing of the outcome of the decision.

Prescribed time for making an application

The prescribed time for making an application for Family Income Supplement is within 3 months of entitlement first commencing, i.e. within 3 months of:

  • commencement of employment or
  • an increase in hours to 38 per fortnight, or
  • a reduction in hours and consequently earnings or
  • following the birth of a child or
  • Drop in income so that the applicant now considers they may be entitled to WFP.

Where a successful application is received within the prescribed time, payment commences from the first Thursday after the entitlement commenced.

Applications made outside the prescribed time are disqualified from payment in respect of any period before the date on which the application is made.

The Department issues renewal application forms to customers to customers in receipt of WFP at least 8 weeks in advance of the expiry of their 52-week period. In order for a repeat WFP to be awarded from the renewal date, the renewal form must be received within 4 weeks of the end of the 52-week period.

Renewal forms received later than 4 weeks are awarded from the first Thursday after receipt.

Debt

When a family comprises of a person and his or her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, both join in any claim for WFP in respect of that family.  If the Deciding Officer notes that the applicant or their spouse, civil partner or cohabitant has an outstanding overpayment, s/he will notify Longford’s Debt Recovery Unit (DRU) of this and hold any arrears.

The DRU will then write to the customer proposing methods of recovery for the overpayment.


PART 3: POST DECISION PROCEDURES

Duration of payment

Once WFP is awarded, it is payable for 52 weeks, as long as the recipient continues to be engaged in full-time paid employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight with the same employer.

If the recipient and/or recipients cease employment or change employer during the 52 week period, they must make a new WFP application.

Cessation or Suspension of payment

If the recipient’s hours of employment drop below 38 per fortnight or if they cease employment, their entitlement ends and they must notify WFP Section immediately.

If the recipient and/or recipients ceases employment or changes employer, their current entitlement ends and they must notify WFP Section immediately.

If the recipient claims Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit or Farm Assist their entitlement ends and they must notify WFP Section immediately.

If a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the WFP recipient claims an increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) on their Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit or Farm Assist payment in respect of the WFP recipient, their WFP entitlement may change and they should notify WFP Section immediately.

If the WFP recipient claims Illness/Injury Benefit, WFP entitlement will end after the 6th week of the benefit payment. 

If the WFP recipient is on Maternity Benefit, WFP is suspended on the completion of that benefit pending confirmation that the WFP customer has returned to full-time paid employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight.

If the WFP recipient fails to turn up for repeated appointments at a Social Welfare Local Office / Intreo Office for the purposes of providing them with a Public Services Card, payment may be suspended until they meet the appointment.

If a Social Welfare Inspector reports that a WFP recipient has failed to co-operate with their investigation, payment may be suspended on account of this.

If they are imprisoned, WFP will be suspended.

Changes in circumstances after award.

Once WFP is granted, the rate of payment remains the same for the 52 week period regardless of changes in circumstances.

It is not affected by increases or decreases in Family Income.

There are 2 exceptions to this provided for in legislation:

  1. A WFP recipient can apply for an increase in respect of an additional qualified child
  1. If One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) was assessed in the latest WFP income test, and OFP is terminated during the WFP 52 week award period for the sole reason that the youngest child has reached the OFP Age Threshold, WFP may be increased by reducing the OFP amount assessed in the most recent WFP Income Test to Nil.

Relationship Breakdown

Where family income supplement is payable in respect of a particular family for any period, no person who was included in that family at the beginning of that period shall be regarded as a member of any other family during that period.

Where a relationship breaks down as long as the original qualification criteria continue to be met and the recipient continues to wholly maintain his or her ex-spouse, ex-civil partner or ex-cohabitant with whom the children are living, one of the couple cannot succeed in a new application for WFPuntil the existing WFP claim has expired. If these conditions are not met then the entitlement to the WFP payment will end and a new WFP claim can be made by the ex-spouse, ex-civil partner, ex-cohabitant with whom the children normally reside.
Examples:

Where a couple separates and only one member of that couple is engaged in full-time remunerative employment the WFP payment can continue as long as the recipient continues to wholly maintain her/his ex-spouse, ex-civil partner or ex-cohabitant with whom the children are living.

In the circumstances described above but where the partner with whom the children normally reside takes up full-time remunerative employment the existing WFP claim can be closed and that person can make a new WFP claim in their own right.

Where a couple separates and both are engaged in full-time remunerative employment, the ex-spouse ex-civil partner or ex-cohabitant with whom the children are living can make a new WFP claim in his/her own right.

Back-dating

A claim to WFP should be made within three months of the date of entitlement i.e. date of commencement of employment. Where a person fails to make a claim within the prescribed time, s/he will be disqualified from receiving payment in respect of any period prior to the date of claim.

If you apply for WFP late, you may lose out on part of your entitlement. There is provision to backdate the award of WFP 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.

Payment can be backdated further only where it is shown to the satisfaction of a Deciding Officer that the delay in claiming pension was due to:

  • false or misleading information provided by the Department or
  • The person having been incapacitated by illness or infirmity.

In all cases where a backdated payment is being considered, entitlement to WFP 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.

Decisions

Deciding Officers are responsible for deciding on entitlement to social welfare payments. They are appointed by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and are independent in the exercise of their role. In arriving at their decision, Deciding Officers are bound by the legal provisions in the Social Welfare Acts and Regulations, and are expected to be familiar with the relevant operational guidelines, for example, “Decision Making and Natural Justice”.

When a Deciding Officer has made a decision on entitlement to WFP, they send a letter to the person, notifying them of the outcome of their claim.

If WFP has been awarded, the letter lists the range of circumstances which could affect the person’s continuing entitlement to this payment and asks them to advise the Department of any changes in these circumstances.

Any certificates or documents which have been submitted in support of the claim are returned with the letter, if not already returned earlier.

If the claim has been disallowed, the letter explains the basis for the decision and also advises the person of their right to appeal against the Deciding Officer’s decision. The appeal must be lodged within 21 days of the date of the notification letter. See ‘Appeals’ below.

Revised Decisions

Any decision of a Deciding Officer may be revised by a Deciding Officer if new information or evidence comes to light or if the original Deciding Officer made a mistake in relation to the law or facts of the case. A person has the right of appeal against a revised decision.

See “Decision Making and Natural Justice” and “Revised Decisions and Their Date of Effect” for more information.

Appeals

If a person is not satisfied with the decision of a Deciding Officer they can appeal directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, by writing to that Office within 21 days, outlining the grounds of their appeal.

See “Social Welfare Appeals Office – An Introduction”, “Social Welfare Appeals Office – Appeal Hearings” for more information.

Social Welfare Appeals Office
D’Olier House
D’Olier Street
Dublin 2
Telephone (01) 673 2800
LoCall: 1890 74 74 34

www.socialwelfareappeals.ie

Note:
The rates charged for using 1890 (LoCall) numbers may vary among different service providers.

Last modified:06/03/2018
 

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