Benefits and Entitlements
What benefits and payments you can claim will depend on several things such as other income you are receiving, who you live with, whether you work or have ever worked and whether you are in school or not. It can seem very complicated but your local Social Welfare Office or Community Welfare Office can help you understand what you can apply for and from whom. The main benefits which might be available to you are:
One Parent Family Payment. (OPF)
This is a weekly Social Welfare payment for parents who are caring for their child but not living with a partner. The payment will depend on any other income that you are getting from work or any maintenance (money from the child’s other parent). You can still claim OPF even if you are living at home with your family or you are in school or in college. You cannot claim OPF if you are living with a partner, even if this partner is not the child's parent.
Where to apply: One Parent Family Section. The Department of Social and Family Affairs.
When to apply: As soon as your child is born and you have a birth certificate for him/her.
Supplementary Welfare Allowance
This is a weekly payment available from the Health Service Executive (HSE) through the Community Welfare Offices. It may be paid while you are waiting for a Social Welfare payment such as One Parent Family Payment, to come through. You may be able to claim a payment if you have no income from any other source. This payment is normally not paid if you are in full-time education,or if you are living at home with your parents and are under 18.
Where to apply: Community Welfare Office (for your area) Health Service Executive.
When to apply: You can apply for a payment for yourself before the baby is born but you will need your baby’s birth certificate to get an increase for the baby.
Job Seekers Allowance
This is a weekly payment from Social Welfare for people who are unemployed and looking for work. You must be 18 to apply for it. You will be expected to show that you are available for work and are making attempts to find work. If you are living with a partner one of you can claim the allowance and receive a payment for the other (adult dependent allowance). The adult dependent allowance is only paid if the partner is also not working or is earning under a certain amount. You can also claim an extra allowance when your baby is born. (child dependent allowance).
Where to apply: Your local Department of Social and Family Affairs (Social Welfare Office).
When to apply: If you are or become unemployed and are over 18.
Family Income Supplement.
This is a weekly payment which may be claimed if you, or your partner, are working more than 19 hours per week and are on a low wage. Any other income you receive will be taken into consideration when you are applying. However any expenses you have such as rent and travel to work will also be considered.
Where to apply: Family Income Supplement (FIS) Section. The Department of Social and Family Affairs.
When to Apply: At any time.
This is a monthly payment paid to all parents regardless of, what income they have, whether they are married or not, or where they are living. An allowance is paid to the parent for each child until the child reaches the age of 16. If they stay in education it is paid until they reach their 19th birthday. The young parent’s own parent can still receive child benefit for them if they are living at home, until they are 16 or, if they are in education, until they are 19.
Where to apply: Child Benefit Section. Department of Social and Family Affairs.
When to apply: In most areas once the baby is registered an automatic application for child benefit is made. You will receive a form from Social Welfare requesting details of where the payment should be made.
Exceptional Needs Payments
The Once off’ payments may be claimed in certain situations from the Health Service Executive, through the Community Welfare Offices, if you are on a social welfare allowance or very low income. As a young parent you might require assistance to purchase larger items for your baby such as a cot or buggy.
Where to apply: The Community Welfare Office, Health Service Executive.
When to apply: After the baby is born for items such as a buggy or cot.
Medical Card/GP Card.
If your income is under a certain level, you may be entitled to receive a medical card or a GP only card (under the General Medical Scheme) from the Health Service Executive. A medical card will allow you and your baby to receive free care from your doctor and to get free medications on prescription. A GP card would entitle you to free GP treatment only but not free medication. Generally, if you are just on a social welfare payment with no other money coming in, you should be under the income level for one of these cards.
Where to apply: Community Welfare Office (Health Service Executive)
When to apply: After your baby is born as you will need his/her birth certificate.