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Social welfare guide for lone parents

What payments am I entitled to?

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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​Social welfare can sometimes seem like the most complicated thing in the world. What payments am I entitled to? If I’m getting this payment, will another one be cancelled out? Would I earn more working part-time or on social welfare? It can be especially complicated for lone parents; you might worry about how your social welfare payment will be affected by the number of kids you have, whether you’re working or not, or if you chose to go back to education.

Sometimes it can be a complicated system, but is here to separate the facts from the fiction around social welfare, and get you all the information you need. Below you’ll find a short summary of all the social welfare payments and supports you may be entitled to as a lone parent. Just click on the links to find out more information about any one.

Remember, any of the forms linked below will be available in your local social welfare or intreo office. Find a list of social welfare and intreo offices here. If you need a hand filling out any of the forms, don’t be afraid to ask the staff at the social welfare office for help - that’s what they’re there for!

Child benefit

What is it?

Child benefit is a payment of €140 per month per child that can be claimed by parents or guardians of children under 16 years old, or under 18 years old if the child is in full-time education, Youthreach, or has a disability.

Would I be eligible?

Yes. All parents and guardians of children are entitled to it no matter what you’re income is, so make sure to claim it!

How do I apply?

If your baby is born in Ireland, the Department of Social Protection will begin the Child Benefit claim automatically on your behalf, once you register the birth of your baby. The child benefit section will send you a form to fill out, with all the instructions you need on it. You’ll then be able to pick it up at your local post office every month.

One parent family payment (OFP)

What is it?

The One Parent Family Payment is a social welfare payment that some single parents can get.

If you are a lone parent, you may also be entitled to half-rate Carer's Allowance. You can find out more here.

Would I be eligible?

To get the full payment:

  • Your youngest child must be under 7, and
  • You must earn under €165 a week

To get a reduced version of the payment:

  • Your youngest child must be under 7, and
  • You must earn between €165 and €425

How do I apply?

You need to fill in this form and post it to your local Intreo or Social Welfare Office - click here to find your local one.

If you’re single, you should apply within the first 3 months of the birth of your baby.

If you are separated, divorced or no longer in a civil partnership, you should apply within 6 months of the date you separated from your spouse or civil partner. You must be separated for 3 months before you can apply.

Working Family Payment

What is it?

Working Family Payment is a weekly social welfare payment for parents, who have jobs but don’t earn a lot of money.

Would I be eligible?

You must have at least one financially dependent child under the age of 18 and you must earn under a certain amount. You must be working for at least 38 hours every fortnight and your job needs to be likely to last at least another 3 months.

How do I apply?

You cannot get Working Family Payment if you are:

  • receiving Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance
  • receiving Pre-Retirement Allowance
  • receiving Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme
  • participating in Community Employment Scheme
  • participating in Gateway
  • participating in Rural Social Scheme
  • participating in the Tús scheme

You can still get FIS if you receive

  • One-parent family payment
  • Maternity benefit
  • Back to school clothing and footwear allowance
  • Back to work family dividend

To apply, you need to do is fill out this form and send it to:

Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Services Office
Government Buildings
Ballinalee Road

You can get a copy of this form at your local social welfare or Intreo office - click here to find a list of these. Plus, if you need a hand filling out the form, don’t be afraid to ask the staff at the social welfare office or citizen’s information for help - that’s what they’re there for!

Jobseeker's Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance

What is it?

Jobseeker’s Allowance and Jobseeker’s Benefit are social welfare payments for unemployed people. Jobseeker’s Benefit is more money than Jobseeker’s Allowance. The one you’ll get depends on how much you’ve worked recently.

Would I be eligible?

To get either payment you need to:

  • Be over 18
  • Be unemployed
  • Be capable of work
  • Be available for and genuinely seeking work
  • Satisfy a means test
  • Meet the Habitual Residence Condition, or
  • Have left school at least 3 months ago

How do I apply?

You should apply for for Jobseeker’s Benefit on the first day you become unemployed. You need to fill out this form and bring it to your local social welfare office. There are some documents that you’ll need to bring with you too - you can find a list of them here. If you don’t have any of these documents to hand, don’t worry - you should apply anyway.

Jobseeker's Transitional Payment (JST)

What is it?

This is a special arrangement under the Jobseeker's Allowance scheme that support you in entering the workforce when you have a child between 7 and 13 years of age.

It is similar to Jobseeker's Allowance, but differs in these ways:

  • You don’t need to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work 
  • You can take part in a course and still receive JST
  • You do not have to be fully unemployed for 4 out of 7 days - this means that you could work part-time for 5 days and still receive a payment
  • You cannot cohabit with another person while you are getting JST - this means you cannot be living with your partner

Am I eligible?

To get JST:

  • You must not be living with your partner
  • Your youngest child must be aged between 7 and 13
  • You must meet a means test; this means your income must be below a certain amount (if you are aged 24 or under and living with your parents, some of their income will be counted too)

How do I apply?

To apply, you need to fill out this form. You can pick up one of these at your local social welfare or Intreo centre. You can then hand it in to the staff at the centre.

Rent supplement

What is it?

Rent supplement is a payment available for people who cannot pay their rent.

Would I be eligible?

To qualify for Rent Supplement, you must:

  • Be living in accommodation for homeless people for the past six months, or
  • Have rented privately for 6 out of the previous 12 months and due to a change in circumstances can no longer afford the rent

You cannot get it if you:

  • Are working 30 hours a week or more
  • Are living in the family home
  • Are in full-time education (except if you're involved in the Back To Education Programme)
  • Have refused a second offer of accommodation made by your local authority
  • Have been excluded from social housing because of anti-social behaviour

How do I apply?

You need to fill out this form and return it to the Department of Social Protection’s Representative at your local health centre. You need to bring certain documents, your landlord needs to fill out certain parts of the form, and your local authority needs to fill out other parts of it. You can find out more about this here.

Housing Assistance Payment

What is it?

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. HAP will eventually replace long-term Rent Supplement. The payment is sent directly to your landlord on your behalf.

Would I be eligible?

To qualify for HAP, you must:

  • Be on the local authority's housing list, or
  • Be homeless, or
  • Have been receiving Rent Supplement for more than 18 months

You must also:

  • Pay a rent contribution to your local authority, which is calculated based on your income
  • Find private-rented accommodation yourself - the local authority cannot do this for you

How do I apply?

If you are not already on the local authority's housing list, you must apply for social housing first. If you are already on the housing list you can ask your local authority for the HAP form.

Social housing

What is it?

This is housing or flats provided to people who cannot afford to buy or rent their own homes. There is a very long waiting list for housing.

Would I be eligible?

You need to be earning below a certain amount to qualify and this amount varies depending on where you live. You also need to prove that you can’t find suitable alternative accommodation.

How do I apply?

You need to apply directly to your local authority. You can download the correct form from your local authorities website. You can find your local authority here.

Maternity benefit

What is it?

This is a payment available to some people while they are on maternity leave.

Would I be eligible?

You need to have paid a certain amount of PRSI payments to qualify.

How do I apply?

To apply, you need to fill out this form and send it to this address:

Department of Social Protection
McCarter's Road

If you are receiving One-Parent Family Payment, you can claim half-rate maternity benefit. If you are claiming Family Income Supplement you are still entitled to claim maternity benefit.

ECCE Scheme

What is it?

This is a scheme that provides a year of free early childhood care and education, that is open to all children in Ireland. It provides free childcare for children between age 3 and 5 and a half, or until they begin primary school.

Would I be eligible?

All children in Ireland who are aged over 3 years and less than 5 years and 6 months. From September 2018, children will be able to start ECCE when they reach 2 years and 8 months of age and continue until they transfer to primary school (provided that they are not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the pre-school year).

Children will only be able to enroll in pre-school in September. 

How do I apply?

You can apply by directly getting in touch with participating services. To find out what services are participating near you, get in touch with your local City or County Childcare Committee. You can find a list of their contact details here.

You’ll need to have a copy of your child’s birth certificate or passport and PPS number, so make sure to have these to hand!

You can get it no matter what other social welfare payments you receive, or if you are employed or not.

Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

What is it?

The Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is a scheme that helps provides some help in paying for uniforms and footwear for your children.

Would I be eligible?

To receive this payment your child or children must be aged between 4 and 17 on or before 30 September of the year you apply or aged between 18 and 22 on or before 30 September if in second-level education.

You must also be:

  • Receiving certain social welfare payments, or
  • Taking part in certain employment schemes, or
  • Taking part in a recognised education or training course, or
  • Attending a SOLAS, Fáilte Ireland or LES training scheme

How do I apply?

In 2018, the scheme is open for applications between 1 June to 30 September.

Some people will get the Allowance automatically without having to complete a form. Once everyone who qualifies automatically has been contacted by by the Department of Social Protection (usually in mid-June) application forms will be available for those that need to apply.

Back to education allowance

What is it?

Back to Education Allowance is a scheme available to lone parents or people on certain social welfare payments who wish to go back to education.

Would I be eligible?

To get Back to Education Allowance, you must be over 21 and in receipt of certain social welfare payments, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or One-Parent Family Payment.

How do I apply?

When you get accepted into a course, you should fill out this form and return it to your local social welfare centre. You need to get written confirmation from the college registrar or admissions office that you are registered as a full time student. You must apply before you start your course.

Back to work family dividend

What is it?

This scheme aims to help one-parent family, or families in which both parents have been receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit for a long time, get back to work. It allows parents to keep receiving some of their social welfare payment for a period of time after they go back to work.

Would I be eligible?

Parents who are coming off their main social welfare payment (Jobseeker’s Allowance/Benefit or One-Parent Family Payment) and going into employment or self-employment are eligible.

How do I apply?

You need to fill out this form and return it to your local social welfare office.


Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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Published March 13th2015
Tags young parent social welfare money housing
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