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Know your rights April 2017

Know Your Rights

A: Farm Assist means test

April 2017

Question

How is income from different sources assessed for Farm Assist? I do some contracting as well as farming and my spouse works part-time. We have two children.

Answer

The means test for Farm Assist takes into account virtually every type of income you may have but it assesses different income in different ways.

Your income from farming and other self-employment (like contracting) is assessed as the gross income that you or your spouse may be expected to receive, less any expenses you incur to earn that income. From 8 March 2017, €254 of the income each year is disregarded for each of your two children (it would be €381 for a third or subsequent child). 70% of the balance is assessed (it was 100% up to March 2017).

Payments under rural environmental schemes such as GLAS and SAC are assessed separately from other farm income. €2,540 is deducted from the total amount of all these payments each year and 50% of the remainder is disregarded. Expenses incurred in complying with these environmental measures are then deducted and the balance is assessed as means. Income from an occupational pension or leasing of land or milk quotas is assessed in full. Capital (including any property that you do not live in) is assessed using the formula applied to means-tested social welfare payments.

If you have an off-farm job, €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60 per week) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings and then 60% of the remainder is assessed as weekly means. Your spouse’s income from employment is assessed in the same way. If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.

When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare inspector will visit you and ask to see various documents. The inspector will then assess the costs incurred in running the farm. You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation.

You can get detailed information on how farm income is assessed at welfare.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights

B: Prescription charges

April 2017

Question

I have a medical card but I seem to be paying more than the monthly cap for prescription charges for my family. Why would this happen and how can I get a refund?

Answer

If you have a medical card, there is a charge for each prescription item you receive. The prescription charge is €2.50, up to a maximum of €25 per month per person or family. For medical card holders over the age of 70 there is a reduced prescription charge, from 1 March 2017, of €2 per item up to a maximum of €20 per month.

Usually your pharmacy keeps records of how much you have paid in prescription charges and makes sure that you do not pay more than the limit each month. However, you may use different pharmacies in the same month, or your family members may not be set up as a family group, and you may end up paying more than the maximum.

If this happens, the Health Service Executive (HSE) will issue a refund without the need for you to apply for it. This is done on the basis of the information received from pharmacies. Refunds are issued every six months for amounts over €10. Amounts that are less than €10 are carried over to the next refund date.

You can set up your family as a family group on medicalcard.ie and print off a family certificate to give to your pharmacist. This will show all of the members of your family so that your pharmacy will not collect charges above the monthly limit. Your family is defined as you, your spouse or partner, any children under 16 years of age and any children between 16 and 21 years of age who are in full-time education.

If you do not have access to the internet you can ask your Local Health Office to help with setting up a family group. You can also call the HSE on 1890 252 919 or ask your local pharmacist who may be able to help you.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

 

Know Your Rights

C: Bringing a dog into Ireland

April 2017

Question

I am moving back to Ireland after living in Greece for some years. Am I allowed to bring my dog with me?

Answer

There are strict controls about importing pets into Ireland to ensure that diseases such as rabies are not introduced. The EU system of passports for pets allows cats, dogs and ferrets to travel between EU member states.

You may bring your dog with you if you are moving to Ireland or coming on holiday (or any other movement that is not commercial and doesn’t involve the sale or change of ownership of the pet). Your dog must have an EU Pet Passport. This is available from private veterinary practices.

The Passport certifies that the pet is travelling from an eligible country, is identified by an implanted microchip and has been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel.

Dogs coming from countries other than the UK, Finland or Malta must be treated against tapeworm between 24 and 120 hours before travel. The time and date of treatment are entered on the passport. Treatment for ticks is not compulsory but it is advisable to get it at the same time as the tapeworm treatment.

The operator of the airline or ferry company is legally obliged to send notice of the arrival of the animal to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by email at least 24 hours before the journey to petmove@agriculture.gov.ie.

Further information is available from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (agriculture.gov.ie/pets) and from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 


Know Your Rights

D: Public petitions

April 2017

Question

There is an important issue that I feel isn’t being considered by the Oireachtas but should be. I’ve heard that it is possible to make a petition directly to a parliamentary petitions committee. How does this work?

Answer

The Joint Committee on Public Petitions considers petitions from members of the public on matters in which the Houses of the Oireachtas have the power to act. Anyone except for members of the Oireachtas can submit a petition.

To make a petition, you fill out a form which is available on the Oireachtas website oireachtas.ie. The form can be submitted by post, by email or online and only one signature is required. The committee secretariat can assist you in completing the form and can also give advice on the type of petitions which can be accepted.

You should be able to show that you have already taken steps to resolve the issue, for example, through raising it with the Ombudsman or directly with the relevant government department.

The Joint Committee will not consider a complaint which has been the subject of a decision by an Ombudsman, a regulatory public body or a body set up for the purpose of redress.

If the petition is accepted, the Committee may respond to it in a number of ways. It may:

  • Refer the petition to another appropriate committee, Ombudsman, regulatory public body or redress body
  • Report to the Dáil and Seanad with recommendations
  • Request the petitioner to attend a meeting and address the committee

The parliamentary petitions system is a way that you can take your concerns directly to Parliament and seek to influence the parliamentary agenda. Further information on the Joint Committee on Public Petitions is available on oireachtas.ie or from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

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

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

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