Collecting your welfare payments – June Bank Holiday Arrangements 2018

Monday 4 June is a bank holiday. The offices of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and all post offices will be closed on this date.

Jobseekers who are due to sign at their local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office on Monday 4 June will not have to do so. Normal signing arrangements will apply for the rest of the week.

Read about alternative payment arrangements on welfare.ie.

Referendum – what happens next?

In the referendum held on 25 May 2018, a majority of voters approved a proposal to replace Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution with the text “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy”.

A provisional certificate stating the referendum result was published in Iris Oifigiúil (pdf) (the State Gazette) on 29 May 2018. If no petition challenging the result is presented to the High Court within 7 days of its publication, the certificate becomes final. The President will then sign the Bill to change the Constitution and the Constitution will be amended.

The amendment will allow the Oireachtas to pass laws regulating the termination of pregnancy. The Government has published an outline of the legislation that it plans to introduce (pdf).

Until new legislation is enacted, there is no change to the current legal situation. Abortion remains illegal in Ireland, except where there is a real and substantial risk to the life (as distinct from the health) of the mother.

Read more about this topic.

New Telephone Support Allowance (TSA)

The Telephone Support Allowance is a new payment of €2.50 a week for people who are getting both the Living Alone Increase and the Fuel Allowance along with their social welfare payment. It aims to help with the cost of communications and/or home alert systems.

The TSA will be paid from 4 June 2018 onwards. As this allowance will be paid automatically to people who qualify, you do not need to apply for it.

There are useful FAQs about the Telephone Support Allowance on welfare.ie.

Know Your Rights: Household Benefits Package

Question

I’m in my 70s and live alone. Is it there any support available to help me with my household running costs?

Answer (May 2018)

The Household Benefits Package may help with the costs of running your household. The package is available to everyone aged over 70 and to some people under 70. It is paid by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP).

The package includes an electricity or gas allowance and a Free Television Licence. The electricity or gas allowance pays €35 per month (€1.15 per day) towards the cost of either your electricity or gas supply (you cannot get an allowance for both). It is paid to your bank or post office account or as a credit on your bill. You can get the Free Television Licence from the next renewal date of your licence after you qualify for the package.

Only one person in a household can qualify for the package. You must be living in the State all year round, and you will need to show that you are the registered gas or electricity consumer, for example, by providing a utility bill.

People aged between 66 and 70 may also qualify if they are getting a qualifying payment, such as the State Pension. If they are not getting a qualifying payment, they must satisfy a means test. You qualify if you are getting Carer’s Allowance and providing full-time care to a person you are living with. You may also qualify if you are getting certain social welfare payments and living alone or living with certain people, for example, a qualified adult or child or with someone who would qualify for the allowance in their own right.

To apply, use form HB1 (pdf) from welfare.ie. The form is also available from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office or from your nearest Citizens Information Service.

National Slow Down Day

National Slow Down Day takes place over 24 hours from 7 am on Friday 25 May 2018 to 7 am on Saturday 26 May.

Slow Down Day aims to reduce the number of speed-related collisions, save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.

Excessive and inappropriate speed is a major factor in road traffic collisions – so reducing motorists’ speed is essential. Last year saw 157 road fatalities.

The Garda Síochána urges motorists to slow down, obey speed limits and take road conditions into account.

Visit garda.ie for more information. 

 

Political activity at polling stations

If you are voting tomorrow, remember that political activity is strictly prohibited at polling stations on polling day.

You cannot display or distribute campaign materials, or canvass in any form.

The prohibition also applies in the grounds of the polling station and within 50 metres of the entrance. It will be in effect while polling is open and for half an hour before and afterwards, meaning from 06:30 to 22:30 on Friday, 25 May 2018.

Read more about voting in a referendum.

Renting a car abroad

If you are thinking of renting a car abroad, there are several things to consider.

Before your holiday, check the car rental company’s terms and conditions and make sure you know what they require. Often, you will need an international driving licence and a credit card. You should also check the insurance cover that comes with the car, so you can arrange additional cover if necessary.

When collecting the car, ask about the rental company’s fuel policy, as you may need to return it with a full tank. Check the car’s condition and tell the company about any problems before you drive it away.

When returning the car, try to meet a rep from the rental company, so you can be present when they check the car for fuel and damage. This will help you to avoid any additional charges.

Read more on ccpc.ie.

Know Your Rights: European Health Insurance Card

Question

My partner and I are planning a holiday in Spain. How do we access public healthcare services if one of us becomes ill when abroad?

Answer (April 2018)

You and your partner each need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card allows you to access public healthcare services if you become ill or get injured when travelling to or visiting certain European countries. It doesn’t cover private treatment or the cost of repatriation to Ireland if required.

The countries covered by the card are the 28 member states of the EU, the three other members of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Switzerland. You don’t need the card for a visit to the UK if you can show that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. In practice, this means showing a driving licence, passport or similar document.

If you have a smartphone you can download the free EHIC app. This includes emergency phone numbers and information about treatments and costs covered. The app does not replace the card.

If you already have a medical card or Drugs Payment Scheme card, you can apply online for your EHIC at ehic.ie.

Otherwise, you can download an application form from ehic.ie or get one from your Local Health Office. You need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service number (PPS number). You may also need to show proof that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. If your EHIC has expired you can renew it online at ehic.ie. If your details have changed (for example, your address) you need to contact your Local Health Office to renew the card.

If you have concerns about getting a new or renewed card in time, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate, either online or from your Local Health Office. You may also wish to consider taking out private travel insurance for expenses that are not covered by the EHIC (such as the costs of repatriation).