Latest Update: One Parent Family Payment - Changes Announced

6 Feb 2012

Latest Update: One Parent Family Payment - Changes Announced

The Department of Social Protection plan to send out around 91,000 letters to customers in receipt of the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) to tell them about changes to their payments which were announced in Budget 2012. These letters will explain the changes announced and what this means for their payment.

If you are in reciept of the One Parent Family Payment, and unless your circumstances have changed in relation to your entitlement/claim for the One Parent Family Payment, you do not need to do anything. If your circumstances have changed you should contact the Social Welfare Local Office dealing with your payment or the One-Parent Family Payment section in Sligo, if your payment is dealt with there. The telephone number for their Sligo office is 1890 500 000 and telephone service is provided from 9am to 6pm.

The Department of Social Protection will also be writing to all OPFP recipients in the near future, asking them to complete a questionnaire. If you receive one of these questionnaires, you should complete it and send it back to the Department. Your payment will then be reviewed and the Department of Social Protection (DSP) will notify you of the outcome of the review.

If the review results in your payment being reduced incorrectly and you are unhappy with the decision, contact the INOU for more information on 01 - 856 0088 or use our Contact Us form.

What changes affecting OFP were announced in the Budget?

Income from employment

The amount of earnings you are allowed to have without affecting your payment has been reduced from €146.50 to €130.00 per week from 1 January, 2012. Further reductions will be introduced and announced over the next four years.

Income as a home help
From 1 January, 2012, income over €130 per week from employment as a home help funded by the HSE will be assessed in the means test for the One-Parent Family Payment.

Transitional Payment
From 5 January 2012, the temporary payment of half-rate One-Parent Family Payment where the recipient's earnings exceed €425 per week will no longer be available. NB: If you are already in receipt of a half-rate payment, your payment will not be affected.

Community Employment schemes (CE)
New participants on Community Employment Schemes from 16 January 2012 will not be able to claim a social welfare payment at the same time. The additional €20 per week that is paid to all Community Employment participants will continue to be paid.

Fuel Allowance
The Fuel Allowance season is reduced by 6 weeks from 32 weeks to 26 weeks for all recipients. This means that the current season will end on Friday 6th April 2012 and the fuel season for 2012/2013 will commence on Monday, 8th October 2012.

Concurrent payments on social welfare schemes
From February, if your circumstances change and you become eligible for Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement, you can only receive the equivalent rate of one social welfare payment. You will not be able to get One-Parent Family Payment and a half-rate payment from the other scheme. However, the concurrent payment of One-Parent Family Payment with Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit, Health & Safety Benefit and Carers Allowance continues.

Changes to age limit of the youngest child on an OFP claim
The age limit of the youngest child for One-Parent Family Payment entitlement purposes is gradually being reduced to seven years of age.
The reduction in the age limit is being applied to new and existing customers on a phased basis and will not affect existing customers until 2013.
These new arrangements will apply as follows depending on whether your claim was made:

  1. Prior to 27 April 2011;
  2. Between 27 April 2011 and April 2012; or
  3. After April 2012.

The table below sets out the details. Payment of the One-Parent Family Payment will stop if the youngest child on your claim reaches the age specified in the year shown in the table below.

Payment continues up to age
  1. If your claim commenced before 27 April 2011
  1. If your claim commenced between 27 April, 2011 and April 2012
  1. If your claim starts after April 2012

If you have an entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment based on the age of the youngest child in your family, payment of an Increase for a Qualified Child will continue for the older children in the family until they reach 18 or 22 years if they are in full-time education.

Extension of youngest child age in certain circumstances
Special provisions have been put in place for customers who are in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA). In these cases, One-Parent Family Payment will remain in payment until the youngest child reaches 16 years.

Procedure for claiming further benefits when One-Parent Family Payment ceases
When your One-Parent Family Payment stops, if you are still in need of income support, you may be eligible for another social welfare payment, such as a Jobseeker's payment or, if you are in employment, Family Income Supplement may be payable. Please contact your local social welfare office at that time.

Application of child age provisions to former customers who reapply for One-Parent Family Payment
As an existing customer, if you stop claiming OFP before January 2015:
- To participate in the Back to Education Scheme; Or
- Because your earnings exceed the qualifying earnings limit for the scheme,
You can reapply for One-Parent Family Payment based on the youngest child condition specified above.