Know Your Rights – April 2018

citizens information

Know Your Rights

A: Back to Work Family Dividend

April 2018

Question

I am getting Jobseeker’s Allowance and have just been offered a job. My husband looks after our two children at home. Can I get any social welfare assistance if I stop signing on and go back to work?

Answer

There is a scheme for people with children who stop claiming a jobseeker’s payment, or a one-parent family payment, because they are in – or are taking up – work or self-employment. The scheme is called the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD).

The BTWFD is a weekly payment for up to two years after you start work. For the first year in employment, you are paid the equivalent of any Increase for a Qualified Child that you were getting on your jobseeker’s payment or one-parent family payment (up to a maximum of four children). You get half of that amount weekly for the second year.

To qualify, you must have at least one qualified child and have been getting one of the following payments: Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit (for at least 12 months), One-Parent Family Payment, or Jobseeker’s Transitional payment. You and all members of your family (including your adult dependant) must sign off all primary social welfare payments.

The BTWFD can be paid with other social welfare payments including Working Family Payment (formerly called Family Income Supplement), Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Rent Supplement.

You can get BTWFD for up to two years if you stay in employment. If you or your husband claim a primary social welfare payment within two years of you starting work, the BTWFD payment will stop. If you lose your job and claim a social welfare payment, the BTWFD stops. However, it may restart if you get a new job. You can get a maximum of two restarts per claim.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

 

 

 

Know Your Rights

B: Renewing a passport

April 2018

Question

I have a valid passport, but it will expire two weeks before I go on holiday. Will two weeks give me enough time to get a new one?

Answer

You don’t have to wait until your passport expires to renew it. However, if you apply for a new passport before your current one expires, your new passport is valid from when you apply, rather than from when your previous passport expires.

The website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, dfa.ie, lists the current average processing times for different types of passport applications. The quickest way to renew your passport is by using the online application service. You can use this service to renew your passport if it expires any time in the next 12 months.

You must submit a digital photo with your online application. You can get a friend to take your photo with a digital camera or smartphone or you can go to a photo provider, for example a pharmacy or a photographer, who will give you a copy of your digital photo to upload. Alternatively, you can go to one of the Irish photo booth services listed on passportphoto.ie, which will take your photo and provide you with a code. If you enter this code when applying for your passport online, you don’t need to upload the photo yourself.

Online renewal isn’t available for children’s passports, so if you want to renew your family’s passports together, you have to use Passport Express, the postal application service. There is an extra charge of €9.50 per application for using Passport Express. However, if you are renewing passports for the whole family you can use the ‘Family Application’ option for €16, where up to four passport applications can be sent in one envelope. Alternatively, you can renew your own passport online and use Passport Express to renew any passports for children.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

 

Know Your Rights

C: Voting in a referendum

April 2018

Question

How do I check if I can vote in the forthcoming referendum? If I’m not in Ireland on polling day, can I still vote?

Answer

To vote in a referendum, you must be an Irish citizen and be 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.

In general, Irish citizens living abroad cannot be entered on the Register of Electors and cannot vote in a referendum. 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. If you are abroad on holiday on polling day, you cannot have a postal vote.

The current Register of Electors came into force on 15 February 2018. 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 on the register, you can apply to be added to the supplement to the register. You use Form RFA2, which is available online at checktheregister.ie or from your local authority, post office or public library. To be included in the supplement used at an election or referendum, your local authority must receive your application at least 15 days before polling day. Sundays, public holidays and Good Friday are not counted as days for this purpose.

Local authorities prepare a postal voters list as part of the electoral register. You can only apply for registration as a postal voter if you cannot vote at a polling station because of illness or disability, your occupation, 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 22 days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) before polling day in a referendum. The application form for inclusion in the supplement to the postal voters list is available from your local authority or online at checktheregister.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

 

 

Know Your Rights

D: Applying for a student grant

April 2018

Question

I will be sitting my Leaving Certificate this year and plan to go to college in the autumn. How do I apply for a student grant?

Answer

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) is Ireland’s single national awarding authority for all higher and further education grants.

You apply to SUSI by completing an application form online. You must have an online account with SUSI before you can make your grant application. SUSI is accepting grant applications for the 2018–2019 academic year from early April 2018.

You can use SUSI’s eligibility reckoner to see whether you meet the standard criteria to be considered eligible for student grant funding. You must meet the conditions of the student grant scheme. You must be an Irish, EU, EEA or Swiss national or have specific leave to remain in the State. You must also have been ordinarily resident in Ireland or the EU for three of the last five years. Your family’s means (in the previous tax year, 2017) are assessed and must be under the specified threshold. You must also be attending an approved course in an approved institution.

You must make sure that you provide complete and accurate information (date of birth, Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSNs) and bank details in particular) to avoid any delay to the processing of your application. You need to send hard copies of any supporting documentation to SUSI.

If you are refused a grant, or are approved a grant at a rate that you don’t think applies to your situation, you can appeal the decision in writing to SUSI. You must appeal within 30 days of getting your decision.

Student grants are reviewed each year. If you had a grant in one academic year and are continuing your studies on the course in the following year, SUSI will be in contact with you in order to renew or re-assess your student grant for that next year.

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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