Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit

I recently got an email from a woman whose youngest son is on the Autism spectrum. She is working full time and was hoping to reduce her hours as her son now needs more care.  In this article, I will explain the options but first before anyone can get additional entitlements you must be in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance.

Provided this is in place then two options are available. She can apply for Carer’s Benefit (€205 per week) which isn’t Means Tested, but is based on your PRSI contribution.  She must have been employed for at least 8 weeks in the previous 26 week period. She must not be engage in employment or education courses for more than 15-hours a week. The maximum she can earn during that period is €324 per week. During her absence, adequate care for her Autistic son must be arranged.

Parents can receive this payment for up to 2 years and it is possible to take it in various blocks of time. If you have a second child with special needs, again you could claim Carer’s Benefit for a further 2 years.

The second option is Carer’s Allowance (€204 per week) which has similar rules to Carer’s Benefit but is Means Tested. When you apply, your family’s income, savings and assets will be taken in to consideration.  But the major benefit is that parents can have Carer’s Allowance for more than 2-years. When you are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance you also qualify for additional entitlements that you won’t receive on Carer’s Benefit such as household benefit package.

One further note to add is that both Carer’s Allowance and Benefit are taxable source of income and need to be declared to the Revenue for you to remain tax compliant. This is an issue I see with lots of families who have never declared and will be fined if discovered.

These are the two main options available to parents who want to reduce their hours at work or stop working altogether. The pros and cons of both benefits need to be analysed before deciding on what option suits your family best. Your child’s development stage should also be considered and when would your son/daughter benefit most from you been able to provide that additional care.

The final consideration is the financial impact of reducing your hour will have on your current income and future pension entitlements. A drop in wages can cause a lot of stress if parent start to struggle to pay their bills so consider all angles and make a decision.

This article was prepared by Allan Cuthbert, a Special Needs Financial Planner. If you have a financial question, feel free to email [email protected] or call 021 482 3635. For more information about special needs financial planning, check out