Know your rights: Citizens Information November

Know Your Rights A: Fuel Allowance

November 2013

 

Question

When is the Fuel Allowance paid and how do you qualify?

Answer

 

Fuel Allowance is paid under the National Fuel Scheme, operated by the Department of 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. Under the scheme a Fuel Allowance of €20 per week is paid during the fuel season. The fuel season for 2013/2014 started on Monday 7 October 2013.

 

Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment. If you are getting a non-contributory payment you are accepted as satisfying the means test. From October 2013, people getting a half-rate Carer’s Allowance with a non-contributory payment qualify for Fuel Allowance.

 

The Fuel Allowance means test is linked to the maximum rate of the State Pension (Contributory). You can have a combined weekly income of €100 above the maximum State Pension (Contributory) for your situation and still be eligible for a Fuel Allowance. People getting half-rate Carer’s Allowance with a contributory payment have the carer’s payment assessed as means.

 

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 as the allowance will not be backdated. Application forms (NFS1) are available at your post office or your local social welfare office, or on the Department’s website, welfare.ie.

Some UK pensioners living in Ireland may be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment from the UK. You can find out more from gov.uk.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public.

Bray Citizens Information Centre 3/ 4 The Boulevard, Quinsboro Road  

Tel:  0761 07 6780

 

Arklow Citizens Information Centre 73 Lower Main Street 

Tel: 0761 07 6750

Wicklow Citizens Information Centre 9/10 Lower Mall  Tel: 0761 07 6840

Outreach Centres in

Baltinglass Tel: 086 048 1880        Blessington Tel: 086 048 1881

Glendalough Tel: 0404 45611   Carnew Tel: 053 94 26555

Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

 

Know Your Rights B: Penalty points

November 2013

Question

I received a fixed-charge notice in the post informing me that I had committed a speeding offence. On that day, I had loaned my car to my daughter. How can I avoid a fine and penalty points when I did not commit the offence?

Answer

The Road Traffic Act 2002 provides that, unless another person is identified as the driver, it will be assumed that the registered owner was driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence.

You say that you were not in the car when the speeding offence occurred and that your daughter was driving the vehicle. In that case, you should complete the form attached to the notice, giving your daughter’s name and address. This form should then be returned to the relevant Garda Station with the original fixed-charge notice. You do not enclose any payment with the form.

The Gardaí will issue the fixed-charge notice to your daughter, whom you will have named as the driver. The penalty points will then be endorsed on her licence, either on payment of a fixed fine or on a court conviction.

While penalty points are endorsed on a driving licence, the points do not physically appear on the licence. Instead, they are recorded on the person’s driving licence record. Driving licence records are held on the National Vehicle and Driver File operated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

If you want to find out if you have any penalty points on your driving licence record, contact the Road Safety Authority at 1890 41 61 41 and quote your driving licence number.

The Road Safety Authority has set up a website about penalty points at penaltypoints.ie.

 

 

Know Your Rights C: Jury service

November 2013

Question

I have received a summons from the County Registrar to attend court for jury service. I am worried that I won’t get my jobseeker’s payment if I am selected. What happens if I just don’t turn up?

Answer

You can’t ignore the summons to attend the court. If you fail to attend for jury service without a reasonable excuse, you may be fined. If you are called for jury service while you are signing on for a jobseeker’s payment you will continue to get your payment.

You must reply to the jury summons using the form and pre-paid envelope.

Certain categories of people are excused by right from sitting on a jury. Even if you are excusable by right you can choose to do jury service if you wish. People excusable by right include people over 65, people who provide an important community service, politicians and those in religious life. If you come within one of these categories, you must state this on the form provided.

If you wish to be excused for another reason (such as illness), you state that reason on the form and the County Registrar will make a decision as to whether you may be excused. All summonsed jury members who are not excused must attend in court on the first day the panel is formed. The name of every juror is called out and you must answer to show you are in attendance.

Names are drawn out of a ballot box to select a panel of twelve jurors for a particular case. Even though you are called for jury service, you may not actually serve on a jury. Usually more people are called than are needed. You must return to court every day, whether or not you are sworn onto a jury panel, unless otherwise directed by the court.

There is no payment for jury service but as noted above you can keep your jobseeker’s payment while you serve on a jury. You should advise your local social welfare office or Intreo centre that you have been called for jury service.

 

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

 

 

 


Know Your Rights D: Pensions and qualified adult payments

November 2013

Question

I am turning 66 and will be eligible for a reduced-rate State Pension (Contributory) of €196. My husband is getting his full State Pension (Contributory) of €230.30. He thinks we would be better off if he claimed for me as a qualified adult on his pension. Is he correct? If we do this, will all the money be paid to him?

Answer

If your husband claims for you as a qualified adult on his pension, then he will get €230.30 plus €206.30 – a total of €436.60. If you remain on your reduced rate pension then the total for you both will be €426.30. Therefore, it would appear that you are indeed better off being a qualified adult.

 

However, there are other factors that you should take into account. The Increase for a Qualified Adult is a means-tested payment. Any income you have from employment, self-employment, savings, investments and capital (for example, any property except your own home) is taken into account. If you have joint savings or investments with your spouse, half is taken into account.

 

Before you make a decision, you also need to look at the tax situation. Your husband is entitled to claim a PAYE tax credit (€1650) with his pension. You cannot claim a PAYE tax credit of €1650 with a qualified adult payment whereas you can if you claim a social welfare payment in your own right (for example, your reduced-rate pension). After you do the calculations, you may find that you are better off claiming the reduced-rate pension in your own right.

 

You should analyse each option carefully and do detailed calculations, taking everything into account including taxation and tax credits. What might initially appear to be the better option, may result in less money in the end. You can get help with this from your local Citizens Information Centre.

 

The Increase for a Qualified Adult will be automatically paid directly to you.

If you wish, you can choose to have it paid as part of your husband’s payment.

 

 

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public.

Bray Citizens Information Centre 3/ 4 The Boulevard, Quinsboro Road  

Tel:  0761 07 6780

 

Arklow Citizens Information Centre 73 Lower Main Street 

Tel: 0761 07 6750

Wicklow Citizens Information Centre 9/10 Lower Mall  Tel: 0761 07 6840

Outreach Centres in

Baltinglass Tel: 086 048 1880        Blessington Tel: 086 048 1881

Glendalough Tel: 0404 45611   Carnew Tel: 053 94 26555

Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, Lo-call 0761 07 4000.

 

 

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