Know your rights: Farm Assist means test

Question

How is income from different sources assessed for Farm Assist? I do some contracting as well as farming and my spouse works part-time. We have two children.

Answer (April 2017)

The means test for Farm Assist takes into account virtually every type of income you may have but it assesses different income in different ways.

Your income from farming and other self-employment (like contracting) is assessed as the gross income that you or your spouse may be expected to receive, less any expenses you incur to earn that income. From 8 March 2017, €254 of the income each year is disregarded for each of your two children (it would be €381 for a third or subsequent child). 70% of the balance is assessed (it was 100% up to March 2017).

Payments under rural environmental schemes such as GLAS and SAC are assessed separately from other farm income. €2,540 is deducted from the total amount of all these payments each year and 50% of the remainder is disregarded. Expenses incurred in complying with these environmental measures are then deducted and the balance is assessed as means. Income from an occupational pension or leasing of land or milk quotas is assessed in full. Capital (including any property that you do not live in) is assessed using the formula applied to means-tested social welfare payments.

If you have an off-farm job, €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60 per week) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings and then 60% of the remainder is assessed as weekly means. Your spouse’s income from employment is assessed in the same way. If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.

When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare inspector will visit you and ask to see various documents. The inspector will then assess the costs incurred in running the farm. You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation.

You can get detailed information on how farm income is assessed at welfare.ie.