One Parent Family Payment

Introduction

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is a payment for both men and women who, for a variety of reasons, are bringing up a child, or children, without the support of a spouse or partner. To be eligible for this payment a person must be either:

  • widowed (includes a person divorced from spouse prior to spouse’s death and not remarried or person whose civil partnership has been dissolved prior to civil partner’s death and who has not registered in a new civil partnership)
  • separated or divorced
  • unmarried (including one whose marriage has been annulled or civil partnership has been dissolved) or
  • a prisoner’s spouse/civil partner

One-Parent Family Payment is a means tested payment (see Chapter 1 for details of the means test) made up of a personal rate and payment for qualified children. Unlike Jobseeker’s Allowance and Jobseeker’s Benefit, persons on One-Parent Family Payment do not have to satisfy the Genuinely Seeking Work condition to qualify for the payment.

 

You cannot claim One-Parent Family Payment if:

  • You are not the legal guardian of at least one child of qualifying age,
  • You do not have the main care and charge of at least one qualified child who is residing with you
  • You have not been living apart from your spouse/civil partner/cohabitant for at least 3 months
  • You are cohabiting. Cohabiting means in a relationship and living with another person of the same or opposite sex,
  • You do not satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (see Habitual Residence Condition). EU migrant workers are exempt from HRC for the purposes of OFP.
  • You are residing outside of Ireland,
  • You do not satisfy the means test. This is where the value of any income, savings or investments or value of property other than your own home is more than is allowed for under the means test.
  • You have gross earnings from insurable employment or self-employment exceeding a weekly average of €425.00

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Habitual Residence Condition

Persons applying for One-Parent Family Payment must satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC). From May 2005, EU citizens, EEA citizens and Swiss nationals who are employed or self-employed in Ireland and paying into the Irish Social Insurance System – or who are claiming Jobseeker’s Benefit at the time of making their OFP claim – will automatically satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition.

Eligible Children

One-Parent Family Payment customers are paid until the youngest child in their family reaches the age of 7. Where the person no longer qualifies for One-Parent Family Payment they may be able to seek an alternative Social Welfare payment, subject to satisfying the qualifying conditions of the particular payment/scheme.

The payments they may qualify for include Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST), Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Allowance or Carers Allowance, Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) or Working Family Payment (WFP) if they are employed. Contact your local Intreo Centre / Branch Office, or the INOU on 01 – 856 0088.

Exceptions to the Age Limit

Special arrangements apply to those in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance, a half-rate Carer’s Allowance, a Blind Pension and to parents who have been recently bereaved. Please contact your local Intreo Centre/Branch Office, Citizens Information Centre or the INOU for more information.

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Rates of payment

The current personal payment rate on One-Parent Family Payment is €203.00. The current rate of payment for a qualified child under 12 is €36. The current rate of payment for a qualified child over 12 is €40. The personal rate of payment can be affected by an additional income from employment or self-employment – see OFP Employment / Self-Employment.


Seeking Maintenance

If you are separated, divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved you must:

  • Have made efforts to get maintenance from your spouse or civil partner (if your civil partner is the parent of the child/children)

If you were not married to the parent of your child/children you do not need to seek maintenance from the other parent when you first claim One-Parent Family Payment. However you must make efforts to seek maintenance from the other parent to continue to be eligible for the One-Parent Family Payment.

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Maintenance and Domestic Violence

When making an application for the One-Parent Family Payment, or engaging in a review of an existing claim, and where the lone parent states that there is a violent or abusive relationship he / she will not be expected to produce any documentary evidence in that regard. In such circumstances the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) will regard the condition to seek maintenance as satisfied.

Assessment of Maintenance

All income from maintenance is assessed as means. This includes both maintenance for you and maintenance to you for any of your children. Your rent or mortgage payments, up to a maximum of €95.23 per week, can be offset against maintenance payments you receive from your spouse/civil partner.

Half the balance of maintenance is then assessed as means. You must provide proof of rent or mortgage payments. Your rate of payment is calculated by using the sliding payment scale as listed in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Rates of Payment Book (SW19).

Applicants who state that a violent or abusive relationship exists will not be required to produce any documentary evidence in that regards. In such circumstances the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will regard the condition to seek maintenance as satisfied.


Cohabitation

The One-Parent Family Payment is a means-tested payment which is made to men or women who are caring for a child or children without the support of a partner and who are not cohabiting with a spouse or partner.

The term ‘cohabitant’ is defined in the Social Welfare code in accordance with Section 172 (1) of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act, 2010

‘For the purposes of this Part, a cohabitant is one of 2 adults (whether of the same or the opposite sex) who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who are not related to each other within the prohibited degrees of relationship or married to each other or civil partners of each other.’

The following factors are considered in determining if a person is cohabiting with another person:

  • The duration of any relationship;
  • The basis on which the couple live together or have lived together;
  • The degree of financial dependence of either adult on the other and any agreements in respect of their finances;
  • The degree and nature of any financial arrangements between the adults including any joint purchase of an estate or interest in land or joint acquisition of personal property;
  • Whether there are one or more dependent children;
  • Whether one of the adults cares for and supports the children of the other;

and

  • The degree to which the adults present themselves to others as a couple.

 

While no single condition can necessarily support any decision that a couple are living together as husband and wife or civil partners, various facts, details and information can be considered and presented as credible evidence that a person is in a cohabiting relationship and does not qualify for the One-Parent Family payment.

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Cohabitation – Separate Dwellings 

Even if one or both of the couple own or rent alternative accommodation they may still be regarded as living together as husband and wife or civil partners, particularly where the alternative accommodation is seldom used.

Cohabitation – Living Apart 

A married couple/civil partners may also live apart for significant periods of time because of work abroad or elsewhere in Ireland, or because of providing care for relatives, but the relationship remains intact.

Cohabitation – Marriage or Civil Partnership 

If a person is in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment, marries/is in civil partnership or remarries/is in a new civil partnership, entitlement to payment of the OPF stops from the date of marriage/civil partnership or remarriage/new civil partnership.

Liable Relative / Liability to maintain family

Men and women are required, under the law, to pay maintenance to a dependent spouse, civil partner or former cohabitant and any dependent children who are not living with them. These people are called ‘liable relatives’.

If a liable relative fails to pay enough maintenance to an ex-spouse, ex-civil partner or former cohabitant and dependent child (ren), they must contribute to the cost of the One-Parent Family Payment being paid.

The Maintenance Recovery Unit of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will contact the liable relative if they have not paid enough maintenance.

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Taking up Employment

Employment (part-time / full-time)

You can continue to claim One-Parent Family Payment if you are in either part-time or full-time employment. Your continued entitlement to receive One-Parent Family Payment while working depends on the amount of money you earn from your employment.

You must inform the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) of a change in your circumstances, i.e. that you are working and of the amount you are earning from employment. Even if your earnings do not affect your payment, you must inform the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection of the details of your employment.

Assessment of Earnings

The first €165 of your gross weekly earnings is not taken into account (or is disregarded). This means that you can earn up to €165 per week and qualify for a full One-Parent Family Payment.

  • If you earn between €165 and €425, you may qualify for a reduced OFP payment.
  • If you earn more than €425 your will not qualify for any OFP payment.

Employment Income Disregards

The following will not be counted as income / means when assessing the income from employment for the One-Parent Family payment:

  • PRSI, Superannuation, Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA) together with Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) to PRSA, and Trade Union Subscriptions
  • There is no disregard in respect of the Universal Social Charge (USC)

One-Parent Family Payment and Working

Jane is a lone parent with one child receiving a One-Parent Family Payment of €239, who finds work paying €220 per week. Her new rate of One-Parent Family Payment is calculated as follows:

 
Jane’s gross earnings     €220.00
Earning disregard:    - €165.00
     €55.00
  
Assessed at 50%    €27.50
Jane’s weekly OFP rate    €239.00
Less Means deducted for €27.50 (valued at €27.50)  –€27.50  
New weekly rate €211.50
  
Jane’s gross earnings + €220.00
Plus revised One-Parent Family Payment rate €211.50
Total household income €431.50


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In Work / Back to Work Supports

Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD)

The Back to Work Family Dividend scheme aims to help families to move from Social Welfare into employment. It gives financial support to people with children who were getting OFP who take up employment or become self-employed.

To qualify for Back to Work Family Dividend, you must sign off all Social Welfare payments. Back to Work Family Dividend cannot be paid with any other Social Welfare payment – with the exception of Child Benefit and Working Family Payment.

Working Family Payment (WFP)

If you are employed for 38 or more hours per fortnight (any combination of hours that reaches 38 hours each fortnight is acceptable), and your income is below a certain limit for your family size you can apply for Working Family Payment (WFP). You can receive WFP and OFP. Your OFP payment will be taken into account when calculating your rate of WFP.

If you have been in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment and have been claiming the Working Family Payment, the WFP payment will stop when you are transferred to the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment.

JobsPlus

Persons in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment do not qualify to participate on JobsPlus. Lone parents on Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment do qualify to participate in JobsPlus.

Medical Card

If you are in receipt of the One-Parent Family payment and you are returning to full-time or part-time work, and you currently hold a medical card, you may be able to keep your medical card for up to 3 years. If you take up full-time employment you may retain your medical card for 3 years from the date you start work, regardless of income.

If you take up part-time employment the 3-year period starts from the date your income exceeds the relevant medical card income guidelines for your family size.

Rent Supplement

If you take up employment and you are in receipt of Rent Supplement, your underlying entitlement to the payment and the rate at which it is paid could be affected by the number of hours you work and the amount of money you earn.

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Working under 30 Hours per week

You will be reassessed for Rent Supplement and some of your additional income including some of your income from employment will be taken into account. As a result of the reassessment you may or may not continue to qualify for Rent Supplement. If you do qualify for Rent Supplement you may get a different rate of Supplement.

Working over 30 Hours per week

If you are working over 30 hours a week in employment or self-employment, or if you are getting the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, you can only continue to get Rent Supplement if your local authority considers that you are eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).

HAP or Local Authority Rent

If you are renting from a local authority or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, your rent is calculated using the local authority differential rents system. This system is based on your household’s weekly income and your ability to pay. So, if your income increases when you return to work, you must inform the local authority and you may be asked for a higher contribution towards the rent. 


Self-Employment Options

Taking up Self-Employment

You can take up self-employment while in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment. However, this income may cause your rate of OFP payment to be reduced.

You should inform the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection of your change of circumstances. There is no restriction on the number of hours or days you can be self-employed.

Claiming while Self-Employed

If you are currently self-employed or have been self-employed, paying a Class S PRSI contribution, you do not have to de-register, wind up or close your business in order to receive One-Parent Family Payment while self-employed. You will be required to meet the standard qualification conditions and the means test. For more information, contact the INOU on (01) 856 0088.

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Self-Employment Supports

Medical Card

If you are in receipt of the One-Parent Family payment and you take up self-employment, your additional income from self-employment may affect your underlying entitlement to a medical card. There is no provision to keep your medical card for up to 3 years as applies to persons on the OFP taking up employment as an employee paying a class A PRSI contribution. For more information please contact the INOU on 01-856 0088

Rent Supplement 

If you take up self-employment and you are in receipt of Rent Supplement, your underlying entitlement to the payment and the rate at which it is paid could be affected by the number of hours you are self-employed and the amount of money you earn.

Self-employed under 30 Hours per week 

Claims from self-employed people are assessed on the individual circumstances of the case and you may be asked to show that you are working less than 30 hours a week. As a result of the reassessment you may or may not continue to qualify for Rent Supplement. If you do qualify for Rent Supplement you may get a different rate of Supplement.

Self-employed over 30 Hours per week

If you are self-employed over 30 hours a week you can only continue to get Rent Supplement if your local authority considers that you are eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).

HAP or Local Authority Rent 

If you are renting from a local authority or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, your rent is calculated using the local authority differential rents system. This system is based on your household’s weekly income and your ability to pay. So, if your income increases from engaging in self-employment, you must inform the local authority and you may be asked for a higher contribution towards the rent.

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Additional Information

Reduced Hours or Pay

If you have been working full-time and your employer reduces the number of days you work because of a downturn in business, you may be entitled to an increase in the rate of payment on your One-Parent Family Payment and you may seek to have your rent allowance / local authority rent / HAP payment adjusted.

To request a review of your entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment send a current payslip (showing your reduced pay) with a letter from your employer, confirming your new work situation, to the Intreo Centre / Branch Office dealing with your claim.

Community Employment

Persons in receipt of OFP can participate on Community Employment (CE). A CE payment will be made in place of the OFP payment, with an additional €22.50 per week that is paid to all CE participants.

Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS)

Persons in receipt of OFP may be eligible to participate on the YESS.

Half–Rate Social Welfare Payments

You can receive half-rate Maternity Benefit, Carers Allowance, Adoptive Benefit and Health and Safety Benefit with One-Parent Family Payment.

Redundancy Payments

One-Parent Family Payment is a means tested payment. If you are employed, are made redundant and receive a redundancy payment this may affect the rate of payment on your One-Parent Family Payment.

Although you may have paid enough PRSI contributions while working to qualify for a Jobseeker’s Benefit payment, you will not be able to claim One-Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Benefit together if you are made redundant. For more information on Redundancy, please see losing your job.

Voluntary Severance

One-Parent Family Payment is a means tested payment. If you are employed and accept a Voluntary Severance payment this may affect the rate of payment on your One-Parent Family Payment. For more information on Voluntary Severance, please see Redundancy.

Losing your Payment

Employment

One-Parent Family Payment recipients will no longer qualify for payment if their gross earnings are more than €425 per week.

No Qualified Children

If you do not have at least one qualified child, below the relevant age limit, you will no longer qualify for One-Parent Family Payment.

There is no ‘replacement’ payment for One-Parent Family Payment. If you are unemployed you may apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment. If you are working at least 38 hours per fortnight you may qualify for Working Family Payment and Back to Work Family Dividend.

If you are self-employed you may apply for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance via your Case Officer. If you are ill or incapable of work you may apply for Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension

Failing to provide information or disclose means

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection reserve the right to review claims for One-Parent Family Payment. This may mean that you receive a visit from a Social Welfare Inspector or are asked to attend an interview with a Social Welfare Inspector to review your claim.

Failure to supply within a reasonable time any information requested by the Inspector, could result in your payment being stopped by the decision of a Deciding Officer.

Right of Appeal

If you are unhappy with the Department’s decision in relation to the withdrawal or reduction of your One-Parent Family Payment, or if you wish to appeal a disallowance you may appeal that decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (www.socialwelfareappeals.ie). For more information on the Social Welfare Appeals process, please contact the INOU on (01) 856 0088 or by e-mail: welfare@inou.ie

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Contact Us

Telephone

You can speak, in complete confidence, to an Information Officer in the Information and Advocacy section directly at 01 - 856 0088 , Monday - Thursday 9.30 am to 5.00 pm and Friday 9.30am to 4.00pm.

Online

Use the online Contact Us form on the INOU website

E-mail

You can send your query directly to us by e-mail at welfare@inou.ie