Know Your Rights: Benefits for carers

Question

I will need to take time out from work to provide full-time care for my father. What is available for people in my situation?

Answer (September 2017)

There are several entitlements available to you. In order for you to qualify, the person you are caring for (your father) must be in need of full-time care and attention.

If you are working at present and will be taking time off to care, you may be eligible for carer’s leave of up to 2 years. You must have worked for your employer for a continuous period of 12 months to qualify for this leave.

While you are on carer’s leave, you are entitled to get credited social insurance contributions to maintain your PRSI record.

You are entitled to annual leave and public holidays in respect of the first 13 weeks of carer’s leave. Your employer cannot dismiss you or victimise you for exercising your right to carer’s leave.

You may also be entitled to Carer’s Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, if you have enough PRSI contributions to qualify.

If you do not qualify for Carer’s Benefit, you may qualify for a means-tested Carer’s Allowance. If you get Carer’s Allowance, you may be entitled to a Free Travel Pass. If you live with the person you are caring for, you may also qualify for the Household Benefits Package.

There is also an annual Carer’s Support Grant of €1,700, formerly known as the Respite Care Grant, which is paid to full-time carers in June each year. Even if you are not getting any other social welfare payment, you can qualify for this grant if you fulfil the conditions.

Know Your Rights: Flu vaccination

Question

I have been recommended to get a flu vaccination. Can I get it for free?

Answer (September 2017)

Influenza, usually known as the flu, is highly infectious and anyone can get it. However some groups are at greater risk of complications if they get the flu. This includes people over the age of 65, pregnant women and people who have a chronic medical condition.

The flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu. The flu virus changes every year and this is why there is a new vaccine each year. Vaccination is strongly recommended if you:

  • Are aged 65 and over
  • Have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart, kidney, liver, lung or neurological disease
  • Have an impaired immune system due to disease or treatment
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) over 40
  • Are pregnant
  • Live in a nursing home or other long-stay institution
  • Are a carer or a healthcare worker
  • Have regular contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs

You can get the vaccine from your GP (family doctor) or pharmacist. Children can get the vaccine from a GP.

The vaccine itself is free of charge if you are in one of the recommended groups.

However, doctors and pharmacists may charge a consultation fee when they give you the vaccine.

If you have a medical card or GP visit card, you can get the vaccine without being charged a consultation fee.

Know Your Rights: Student grant appeals

Question

I’ve applied for a student grant to start a college course this year but I didn’t get the grant I was expecting. What can I do?

Answer

Applications for the Student Grant Scheme are processed by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). If you are not happy with the outcome of your application, you can ask SUSI to review the decision if there has been a change in your circumstances or if you think your household income wasn’t assessed correctly. You can also request a review if you think you should get a special rate of grant or if you think there was an error in assessing the distance between your home and college (which affects whether you get an adjacent or non-adjacent rate).

You can request a review by using the online form on the website susi.ie.

You can also make an appeal to SUSI if you are not happy with your final grant decision or if you request a review and are not satisfied with the outcome. You must make the appeal within 30 days of the original grant decision. This deadline may be extended by a further 30 days if the Appeals Officer accepts that you have reasonable cause.

To appeal, you complete the form, available at susi.ie, explaining why you think SUSI applied the rules incorrectly. The Appeals Officer will notify you of the outcome within 30 days.

If your appeal is turned down you can submit a further appeal to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board, outlining why you believe the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in your case. When you get the written decision of the SUSI Appeals Officer it will include information on how to submit an appeal to the Student Grants Appeals Board.

The Board has 60 days to decide on your appeal and will write to you to let you know its decision. An appeal of this decision on a specific point of law is possible and can be made to the High Court.

Know Your Rights: Fuel Allowance

Question

Who qualifies for Fuel Allowance and how is it paid?

Answer

Fuel Allowance is paid under the National Fuel Scheme, operated by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is intended to help people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and who are unable to meet their heating needs. The fuel season for 2017–2018 starts on Monday 2 October 2017.

Under the scheme, a Fuel Allowance of €22.50 per week is generally paid with your social welfare payment. For the 2017–2018 fuel season, the total allowance of €585 can be paid in two equal lump sums, one at the start of the season in October and the second in January. To avail of this payment option, you must complete the form FA CPF 1 which is available from your local post office or social welfare office. You can also get this form by texting FORM FUELCHANGE, followed by your name and address, to 51909. To get the lump sum in October 2017, you must submit your completed form before 15 September 2017. If you submit your form after this date there is no guarantee that you will receive the lump sum in October, but your weekly payment will continue until the January lump sum is issued.

Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment. If you are getting a non-contributory social welfare payment, you are accepted as satisfying the means test.

You must live alone or with someone who also qualifies for the allowance – you cannot get the allowance if you live with someone who does not qualify. Where two or more people living in the same household qualify for the allowance, only one allowance is paid. If your heating needs are met in other ways (for example, if you live in local authority housing where heating is provided), you do not qualify for Fuel Allowance.

If you think you are eligible, you should apply immediately because  the allowance will not be backdated after the start of the fuel season in October. The application form for Fuel Allowance (NFS1) is available at your post office or social welfare office, or by texting FORM FUEL followed by your name and address to 51909.

Know Your Rights: Appealing your Leaving Certificate results

Question

Can I have the marking of my Leaving Certificate exam papers rechecked?

Answer (July 2017)

Yes, if you are not satisfied with the marks in one or more of your Leaving Certificate exams, you can appeal them to the State Examinations Commission (SEC). Before you make the decision to appeal a result, you can view your exam paper.

The SEC will send your school personalised application forms for you to view your exam papers and to appeal your results. (If you were an external candidate, not attending a school, these forms are enclosed with your examination results.) To view your papers, you must return the completed form to the school where you sat the examination by 22 August 2017. The Organising Superintendent will assign you to one of the viewing sessions, which will take place on Friday 1 September and Saturday 2 September 2017. There is no charge for viewing your papers.

To appeal your results, complete the application form, indicating the subjects you wish to appeal. The fee per subject is €40 for the Leaving Certificate Established and €15.50 for the Leaving Certificate Applied. Appeal fees must be paid in advance and will be refunded to you if your result is upgraded.

The closing date for the SEC to receive applications to appeal is 6 September 2017.

Your paper will be re-marked by an appeal examiner, who will be different from the examiner who originally marked your work. The same marking scheme is used for re-marking. Your result may be upgraded, left the same or downgraded as a result of an appeal.

There is further information about the appeal process on the website of the State Examinations Commission, examinations.ie.

If you are not happy with the outcome of your appeal, you may request a review by the Independent Appeals Scrutineers. Application forms for an appeal review are provided with your appeal results.

Know your rights: Bringing a dog into Ireland // Madra a thabhairt isteach chun na hÉireann

Question

I am moving back to Ireland after living in Greece for some years. Am I allowed to bring my dog with me?

Answer (April 2017)

There are strict controls about importing pets into Ireland to ensure that diseases such as rabies are not introduced. The EU system of passports for pets allows cats, dogs and ferrets to travel between EU member states.

You may bring your dog with you if you are moving to Ireland or coming on holiday (or any other movement that is not commercial and doesn’t involve the sale or change of ownership of the pet). Your dog must have an EU Pet Passport. This is available from private veterinary practices.

The Passport certifies that the pet is travelling from an eligible country, is identified by an implanted microchip and has been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel.

Dogs coming from countries other than the UK, Finland or Malta must be treated against tapeworm between 24 and 120 hours before travel. The time and date of treatment are entered on the passport. Treatment for ticks is not compulsory but it is advisable to get it at the same time as the tapeworm treatment.

The operator of the airline or ferry company is legally obliged to send notice of the arrival of the animal to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by email at least 24 hours before the journey to petmove@agriculture.gov.ie.

Further information is available from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (agriculture.gov.ie/pets).

Ceist

Táim ag bogadh ar ais go hÉirinn tar éis bheith i mo chónaí sa Ghréig le roinnt blianta anuas. An féidir liom mo mhadra a thabhairt liomsa?

Freagra

Tá rialuithe dochta ann faoi allmhairiú peata isteach chun na hÉireann chun a chinntiú nach dtugtar isteach aicídí mar chonfadh. Ligtear le córas pasanna an AE do pheataí do thaisteal cat, madraí agus firéad idir ballstáit an AE.

Is féidir leat do mhadra a thabhairt leat má bhogann tú chun na hÉireann nó má thagann tú ar shaoire (nó aon ghluaiseacht eile nach mbaineann leis an ngnó agus nach mbaineann díol nó athrú úinéireachta le peata éigin). Caithfidh Pas Peata AE bheith ag do mhadra. Bíonn sé sin ar fáil ó chleachtóirí tréidliachta príobháideacha.

Deimhnítear leis an bPas go mbíonn an peata ag taisteal ó thír incháilithe, go n-aithnítear iad le micrishlis agus gur vacsaíníodh é in aghaidh an chonfaidh 21 lá ar a laghad roimh an taisteal.

Caithfear madraí a thagann ó thíortha eile seachas an RA, an Fhionlainn nó Málta bheith tar éis cóir a fháil i gcoinne péiste ribíní idir 24 agus 120 uair roimh an taisteal. Iontráiltear tráth agus dáta na cóireála ar an bpas. Ní éigeantach í an chóireáil do sceartáin, agus is inmholta chun í a fháil ag an am céanna leis an gcóireáil do phéisteanna ribíneacha.

Ní foláir d’oibreoir na haerlíne nó na cuideachta farantóireachta fógra a sheoladh go dlíthiúil faoi theacht an ainmhí chuig an Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara trí ríomhphost 24 uair ar a laghad roimh an aistear chuig petmove@agriculture.gov.ie.

Tá tuilleadh faisnéise ar fáil ón Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara (agriculture.gov.ie/pets).

Know your rights: Prescription charges // Muirir oideas

Question

I have a medical card but I seem to be paying more than the monthly cap for prescription charges for my family. Why would this happen and how can I get a refund?

Answer (April 2017)

If you have a medical card, there is a charge for each prescription item you receive. The prescription charge is €2.50, up to a maximum of €25 per month per person or family. For medical card holders over the age of 70 there is a reduced prescription charge, from 1 March 2017, of €2 per item up to a maximum of €20 per month.

Usually your pharmacy keeps records of how much you have paid in prescription charges and makes sure that you do not pay more than the limit each month. However, you may use different pharmacies in the same month, or your family members may not be set up as a family group, and you may end up paying more than the maximum.

If this happens, the Health Service Executive (HSE) will issue a refund without the need for you to apply for it. This is done on the basis of the information received from pharmacies. Refunds are issued every six months for amounts over €10. Amounts that are less than €10 are carried over to the next refund date.

You can set up your family as a family group on medicalcard.ie and print off a family certificate to give to your pharmacist. This will show all of the members of your family so that your pharmacy will not collect charges above the monthly limit. Your family is defined as you, your spouse or partner, any children under 16 years of age and any children between 16 and 21 years of age who are in full-time education.

If you do not have access to the internet you can ask your Local Health Office to help with setting up a family group. You can also call the HSE on 1890 252 919 or ask your local pharmacist who may be able to help you.

Ceist

Tá cárta leighis agam, ach dealraítear go n-íocaimse níos mó ná an t-uasmhéid míosúil do mhuirir oideas i leith mo theaghlaigh. Cén fáth an dtarlódh sé sin, agus cén chaoi ar féidir liom aisíoc a fháil?

Freagra

Má tá cárta leighis agat, baineann muirear do gach mír a fhaigheann tú ar oideas. Is ionann an muirear oideas agus €2.50, suas go huasmhéid €25 in aghaidh an duine nó an teaghlaigh in aghaidh na míosa.  Tá muirear oideas laghdaithe ann do shealbhóirí cárta leighis os cionn aois 70 bliain ó Dé Céadaoin 1 Márta 2017, €2 an mhír suas chuig uasmhéid €20 in aghaidh na míosa.

Is iondúil go gcoinníonn do chógaslann taifid faoin méid a d’íoc tú i muirir oideas, agus go ndéanann siad cinnte de nach n-íocann tú níos mó ná an teorainn gach mí. Is féidir leat leas a bhaint as cógaslanna éagsúla sa mhí chéanna ámh, nó b’fhéidir nach mbunófaí baill do theaghlaigh mar ghrúpa teaghlaigh, agus d’fhéadfá ní ba mhó ná an t-uasmhéid a íoc.

Má tharlaíonn sé sin, eiseoidh Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte (HSE) aisíoc gan gá duit iarratas a dhéanamh ina leith. Déantar sin ar bhunús na faisnéise a fuarthas ó chógaslanna. Eisítear aisíocaíochtaí gach sé mhí i leith méideanna os cionn €10. Tugtar méideanna ar lú ná €10 iad anonn chuig an gcéad dáta aisíocaíochta eile.

Is féidir leat do do theaghlach a bhunú mar ghrúpa teaghlaigh ar medicalcard.ie agus deimhniú teaghlaigh a chlóbhualadh le tabhairt chuig do chógaiseoir. Taispeánfar leis sin gach ball de do theaghlach ionas nach mbaileoidh do chógaslann muirir os cionn na teorann míosúla. Sainítear do theaghlach mar tusa, do chéile nó do pháirtí, leanaí ar bith faoi bhun 16 bliain d’aois agus leanaí ar bith idir aoiseanna 16 agus 21 bliain d’aois atá san oideachas lánaimseartha.

Mura mbíonn rochtain agat ar an idirlíon is féidir leat iarraidh ar d’Oifig Sláinte Áitiúil chun cuidiú le bunú grúpa teaghlaigh. Is féidir leat glao a chur ar an HSE freisin ag 1890 252 919 nó iarraidh ar do chógaiseoir áitiúil ar féidir leo cabhrú leat.

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?

Answer (July 2017)

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 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. The card is not required 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 the treatments and costs that are 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 (PPSN). If your EHIC has expired you can renew it online at ehic.ie. If your details have changed (for example, your address) you will 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 European Health Insurance Card (such as the costs of repatriation or the expenses of relatives who travel to you if you fall ill abroad).

Know your rights: Public petitions // Achainíocha poiblí

Question

There is an important issue that I feel isn’t being considered by the Oireachtas but should be. I’ve heard that it is possible to make a petition directly to a parliamentary petitions committee. How does this work?

Answer (April 2017)

The Joint Committee on Public Petitions considers petitions from members of the public on matters in which the Houses of the Oireachtas have the power to act. Anyone except for members of the Oireachtas can submit a petition.

To make a petition, you fill out a form which is available on the Oireachtas website oireachtas.ie. The form can be submitted by post, by email or online and only one signature is required. The committee secretariat can assist you in completing the form and can also give advice on the type of petitions which can be accepted.

You should be able to show that you have already taken steps to resolve the issue, for example, through raising it with the Ombudsman or directly with the relevant government department.

The Joint Committee will not consider a complaint which has been the subject of a decision by an Ombudsman, a regulatory public body or a body set up for the purpose of redress.

If the petition is accepted, the Committee may respond to it in a number of ways. It may:

  • Refer the petition to another appropriate committee, Ombudsman, regulatory public body or redress body
  • Report to the Dáil and Seanad with recommendations
  • Request the petitioner to attend a meeting and address the committee

The parliamentary petitions system is a way that you can take your concerns directly to Parliament and seek to influence the parliamentary agenda. Further information on the Joint Committee on Public Petitions is available on oireachtas.ie.

Ceist

Tá saincheist thábhachtach ann a sílim nach bhfuiltear á breithniú ag an Oireachtas ach ar cheart di bheith. Chuala mé gur féidir achainí a dhéanamh go díreach le coiste achainíocha parlaiminteacha. Cén chaoi a n-oibríonn sé?

Freagra

Is é an Comhchoiste um Achainíocha Poiblí a bhreithníonn achainíocha ón bpobal i leith cúrsaí ina mbíonn an chumhacht ag Tithe an Oireachtais chun gníomhú. Is féidir le duine ar bith seachas comhaltaí den Oireachtas achainí a thaisceadh.

Comhlánóidh tú foirm chun achainí a dhéanamh, a bhíonn ar fáil ar láithreán gréasáin an Oireachtais oireachtas.ie. Is féidir an fhoirm a thaisceadh trí phost, trí ríomhphost nó ar líne, agus ní theastaíonn ach síniú amháin. Is féidir le rúnaíocht an choiste cúnamh leat chun an fhoirm a chomhlánú, agus is féidir leat comhairle a thabhairt freisin i leith an chineáil achainíocha ar féidir glacadh leo.

Ba cheart duit bheith in ann a thaispeáint gur ghlac tú céimeanna cheana féin chun an tsaincheist a fhuascailt, mar shampla, ach í a thabhairt aníos leis an Ombudsman nó go díreach leis an roinn rialtais ábhartha.

Ní bhreithneoidh an Comhchoiste gearán a tháinig faoi réir cinnidh leis an Ombudsman, comhlacht poiblí rialaitheach bunaithe chun críche an tsásaimh.

Má ghlactar leis an achainí, is féidir leis an gCoiste freagra a thabhairt dó ar roinnt bealaí. Féadfaidh sé:

  • An t-achainí a tharchur chuig coiste iomchuí éigin eile, an tOmbudsman, an comhlacht poiblí rialaitheach agus sásaimh.
  • Tuairisciú chuig an Dáil agus an Seanad le moltaí
  • Iarraidh ar an achainíoch chun freastal ar chruinniú agus aitheasc a thabhairt don choiste

Is bealach é córas na n-achainíocha parlaiminteachta ar féidir leat d’ábhair imní a thabhairt go díreach leis an bParlaimint agus tionchar ar an gclár parlaiminteach a lorg. Tá tuilleadh faisnéise i leith Chomhchoiste na nAchainíocha Poiblí ar fáil ar oireachtas.ie.

Know your rights: Long-term illness and the State Pension // Scéim Tinneas Fadtéarmach

Question

I’ve been on Illness Benefit for over a year. I don’t ever expect to be fit to return to work. As I’m now nearing pension age, will I be entitled to a full State Pension (Contributory)?

Answer (June 2017)

The State Pension (Contributory) is paid to people from the age of 66 who have enough social insurance contributions. To qualify, you will need to have paid at least 520 full-rate contributions, which is equivalent to 10 years. The amount of the pension will depend on your average number of contributions per year. Illness Benefit is paid for a maximum of two years. It will end before that if you turn 66, when you may be eligible for a State Pension. You should apply for the State Pension three months before your 66th birthday.

If your entitlement to Illness Benefit ends before you reach pension age at 66 and you are likely to be permanently incapable of work, you may qualify for Invalidity Pension. To get Invalidity Pension you must have at least 260 (or five years) paid PRSI contributions and 48 contributions paid or credited in the last complete tax year before the date of your claim. The last complete tax year is the year before your claim. For example, if you claim Invalidity Pension in 2017, the last complete tax year is 2016. Note that only PRSI paid in classes A, E and H currently count.

If you get Invalidity Pension, you will automatically transfer to the State Pension (Contributory) at the full rate when you turn 66.

You will be contacted by the Department of Social Protection  before your Illness Benefit is due to stop and you will be given information about your options. If at that stage, you don’t qualify for Invalidity Pension and have a disability that is expected to last for a year or more, you may qualify for a means-tested Disability Allowance.

You can get detailed information about the State Pension and payments for people with long-term illnesses from the website of the Department of Social Protection.

Ceist

Táim ar sochar breoiteachta le breis is bliain. Ní dóigh liom go mbeidh me sláintiúil a dhóthain chun filleadh ar obair. Ós rud é go bhfuilim ag druidim i dtreo aois an phinsin, an mbeidh mé i dteideal  pinsin iomlán (ranníocaíoch)?

Freagra

Tá an Pinsean Stáit (Ranníocach) iníoctha le daoine in Éirinn a bhfuil a ndóthain Ranníocaíochtaí Leasa Shóisialaigh íoctha acu agus a bhfuil 66 bliain slán acu.Chun a bheith incháilithe ní mór duit 520 ranníochaíocht ar an ráta iomlán a bheith íoctha agat, is ionann sin agus 10 mbliana. Braitheann méad an phinsin ar mheánlíon na ranníocaíochtaí in aghaidh na bliana. Íoctar sochar breoiteachta suas go 2 bhliain. Tiocfaidh deireadh leis roimhe sin má  shroicheann tú 66 bliain d’aois nuair a bheidh tú incháilithe do phinsean stáit. Bá chóir duit iarratas a dhéanamh ar phinnsean stáit 3 mhí roimh do 66ú breithlá.

Má thagann deireadh le do shochar breoiteachta roimh a shroicheann tú aois an phinsin  (6) agus más cosúil nach mbeidh tú riamh in ann obair, d’fhéadfadh tú a bheith incháilithe do phinsean easláinte. Chun Pinsean Easláinte a fháil ,caithfear na nithe seo a leanas a bheith agat ar a laghad 260 (5 bliana) ranníocaíocht ÁSPC íoctha agus 48 ranníocaíocht íoctha (nó creidmheas tugtha ina n-aghaidh sa bhliain cánach iomlán is déanaí roimh dháta an éilimh. An bhliain cánach is déanaí is ea an bhliain roimh an éilimh. Mar shampla, má dhéantar éileamh ar Phinsean Easláinte in 2017, an bhliain cánach iomlán is déanaí ná 2016. Nótáil nach n-áirítear ach aicmí ÁSPC A, E agus H.

Má fhaigheann tú an Pinsean Easláinte, aistreofar tú go dtí an Pinsean Stáit (ranníocaíoch) ag an ráta iomlán nuair a shroicheann tú 66.

Rachaidh an Roinn Coimirce Sóisialaí i dteagmháil leat roimh a chuirfear deireadh le do Shochar Breoiteachta agus tabharfar eolas duit maidir leis na roghanna atá agat. Mura mbeidh tú incháilithe ag an bpointe sin don Phinsean Easláinte agus má bhíonn míchumas agat a mhairfidh ar feadh bliana nó níos faide, d’fhéadfadh go mbeifeá incháilithe do Liúntas Míchumais ar bhonn tástála maoine.

Tá mionsonraí eolais faoin bPinsean Stáit agus faoi Íocaíochtaí do dhaoine a bhfuil tinneas fadtéarmach orthu ar fáil ar láithreán gréasáin na Roinne Coimirce Sóisialaí.