Know your rights April 15

citizens information

Know Your Rights A:

Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangement

April 2015

Question

I’ve been getting a One-Parent Family Payment but I will no longer qualify when my youngest child turns seven. What is the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangement and how do I qualify?

Answer

If you no longer qualify for a One-Parent Family Payment because your youngest child is over the age limit, you may be eligible for the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangement (often called JST). This is a social welfare payment that aims to support you into the workforce while also acknowledging that you are parenting alone and caring for young children aged between 7 and 13. JST allows you to work part-time and still receive a partial payment (depending on your earnings).

The rules that apply to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) and JST are very similar. The means test is similar and the maximum weekly rate of payment is the same. The main differences between JA and JST are that on JST:

• You do not have to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work. This is to allow you to meet your caring responsibilities. There are childcare supports available if you do find work.

• You must be capable of work but 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 (subject to the means test). For example, you could work mornings only while your children are in school. Income from work is assessed with a €20 earnings disregard per day of employment (up to a maximum of €60 per week). Any earnings above that are assessed at 60%.

• You cannot cohabit with another person while you are getting JST. You must continue to parent alone.
When you start getting JST you will be scheduled to attend an activation meeting with a case officer. The purpose of this meeting is to identify and access supports (such as education, training and employment schemes) that will prepare you for full-time employment. If you do not participate in this process, you may be paid a reduced rate of JST (a penalty rate) or you may be disqualified from your JST payment.
If you were getting a Fuel Allowance with your OFP you can keep this when you go onto JST.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights B:

Employment services

April 2015

Question

I am signing for unemployment credits but I don’t qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance because my partner’s income is over the limits. What supports are there to help me back into the workforce?

Answer

The Department of Social Protection (DSP) provides employment support and advice to jobseekers nationwide. Jobseekers include people who are getting a jobseeker’s payment, people who are signing for credits and people who are unemployed but not eligible for a payment. In general, DSP employment services focus on people getting social welfare payments. However, there are a range of supports for people who are not getting a social welfare payment.

You can avail of upskilling opportunities, for example, through Further Education and Training (FET) courses provided by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs). Day courses and evening courses are available. Although people signing for credits do not get an allowance during the course, you may receive some support for expenses on travel, meals and accommodation.

If you have been signing for credits (for three or nine months depending on the course) you can take part in the Back to Education Allowance scheme. You do not get the allowance but you can apply for a student grant (both the fee and maintenance component of the grant).

If you have been signing for credits for six months, or more you can take part in the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) run by the ETBs (subject to availability). You do not get a training allowance but you may get travel and lunch allowances. If you have been signing for credits for 12 months or longer in the previous 18 months you can take part in Momentum courses. However, you will not receive any payment.

Springboard and Skillnets courses are also open to many people who may not be eligible for a social welfare payment – such as people signing for credits and unemployed graduates. If you have been signing for credits for three months (78 days) in the last six months, you are eligible for the JobBridge programme (and a payment of €50 a week).

Other employment services, such as advice on jobseeking and online job search tools, are available to people who register with DSP employment services regardless of their social welfare status. In general you apply for courses and JobBridge through your local Intreo centre or social welfare local office.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights C:

Health insurance and lifetime community rating

April 2015

Question

I don’t have health insurance and I’ve been told it will be more expensive for me after 1 May because of my age. Can you explain what is changing?

Answer

Up to now, the cost of an inpatient health insurance policy has been the same for everyone regardless of age. This is known as community rating. From 1 May 2015 a system of lifetime community rating will apply, which means that people may be charged more if they are older when they first take out health insurance. This change will not affect you if you already have health insurance before 1 May 2015 and continue to be insured.

If you are taking out health insurance after this date and you are 35 years of age or older, your annual premium will increase depending on the age you are when you start – by 2% for each year over 34. This increase is called a loading. So, for example, if you are aged 35 there will be a 2% loading, but if you start health insurance at 39 there will be a 10% loading. The maximum loading will be 70%.

If you previously had health insurance but let it lapse, the period for which you had health insurance will be taken into account to reduce the loading that applies.

An allowance (of up to three years) can also be made if you gave up health insurance since the start of 2008 because of unemployment.

People who move to Ireland from another country after 1 May 2015 can avoid having a loading applied if they take out health insurance within 9 months and continue to be insured.

If you have health insurance, you can change your health insurance policy or change your insurer without affecting your loading. A gap in insurance of up to 13 weeks is allowed.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights D:

Voting in the referendums

April 2015

Question

I want to vote in the referendums in May but I may be abroad at that time. Will I be able to vote?

Answer

In order to vote in the referendums on 22 May 2015 you must be an Irish citizen and registered to vote. Every local authority is responsible for compiling and publishing a list of voters in its area. This is called the Register of Electors or the electoral register.

If you are an Irish citizen living abroad you cannot be entered on the Register of Electors. This means that you cannot vote in the referendums. The only exception to this is in the case of Irish officials on duty abroad (and their spouses) who may register on the postal voters list.

The Register of Electors is published every year on 1 February. You can check if you are on the register at checktheregister.ie or at your local authority, Garda station, post office or public library.

If you are not listed on the register, you can apply to be added to the supplement to the Register up to the closing date of 5 May 2015. You apply to be added to the supplement using a form called RFA2 which is available online at checktheregister.ie or from your local authority, post office or public library.

You are normally required to vote in person at an official voting centre but you may be eligible for a postal vote. Local authorities prepare a postal voters list as part of the Register of Electors. You can only apply for registration as a postal voter if you are not able to vote at a polling station because of your occupation, illness or disability, being in prison, or if you are studying full-time in Ireland but away from the address where you are registered to vote.

You can apply to be added to the supplement to the postal voters list up to 25 April 2015. The application form for inclusion in the supplement to the postal voters list is available from your local authority.

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. See www.citizensinformation.ie for details of your local centre or phone our main office in Bray on 0761 07 6780

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

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