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Unusual Welfare Benefits

Teresa McCourt - Welfare Expert

Cycle to work scheme

The Cycle to Work Scheme is a tax incentive scheme which aims to encourage employees to cycle to and from work. Under the scheme employers can pay up to €1,000 for a bicycle and bicycle equipment for each of their employees. The repayment for the bicycle and equipment is then deducted from your gross salary (this means before income tax, PRSI, pension levies or Universal Social Charge are deducted) over a period of up to 12 months.
The scheme applies to new bicycles and pedelecs (electrically assisted bicycles which require some effort from the cyclist). It does not cover motorbikes, scooters or mopeds. It also applies to certain safety equipment, such as helmets and reflective clothing.

Usually, you visit the shop, select the equipment you wish to buy and have the shop invoice your employer directly for the cost. Note that the tax exemption does not apply if you pay for the bicycle and are reimbursed by your employer - the employer must pay for the bicycle.

These deductions can be made weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on your salary payment arrangement. Your employer can also buy the bicycle on your behalf and not require you to pay for it.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, LoCall 1890 777 121.

Helicopter Trips

That is Under the Free Travel Scheme. If you live on an offshore Island without a ferry you can get a certain amount of free helicopter trips free. However you must qualify for the Free Travel Scheme in the first instance. Ie: Over 66 or on Disabiliy Allowance or Invalidity Pension.

Dependent Parent grant

If you were wholly or mainly dependent on your child for financial support, you may be entitled to a Dependent Parent's Pension if they die a work-related death or while receiving Disablement Pension. This pension may be significantly reduced if your deceased child was married or in a civil partnership.

From January 2012, the payments are as follows:

If the deceased was neither married nor in a civil partnership:

First parent (if under 66 years of age): €218.50

First parent (if over 66 years of age): €234.70

First parent (if 80 years of age or over): €244.70

The amount of pension paid depends on whether the deceased was single or married/in a civil partnership.

Spouse of self employed person - can claim a pension

A wife who works with her husband in a business: The husband retires and receives a state pension.

If, in practice, she can show that she in a partnership but did not claim to be in a partnership when making tax and PRSI returns, she can claim partnership status retrospectively and qualify for a state pension also. She will have to pay the S contributions retrospectively.

Medical cards & EU rules

Although all Irish People must undergo a means test for a medical card, a person may be entitled to a medical card under EU Regulations, without having to undergo a means test if:

They are living in Ireland and receiving a social security payment from another European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) country or Switzerland and are not getting an Irish social welfare payment, apart from Child Benefit. They must not be employed or self-employed, in Ireland or they will lose this entitlement.

1. Half-rate jobseeker's benefit

Half-rate payments will cease for new applicants for JB from Thursday, 2nd February 2012. No new half-rate JB claims should be awarded from that date.

NEW PROVISION - partial jobseeker's benefit in some cases (This is not a well know entitlement)

Where a person is in receipt of a reduced rate Widow/er's Pension, Surviving Civil Partner's Pension or One-Parent Family Payment (e.g. due to means or reduced contributions), Job seekers Benefit may be payable.

To check if an OFP customer qualifies for a partial payment of JB, compare the OFP rate and the JB rate payable to the customer. If the JB rate is less than the OFP rate currently in payment then JB is not payable. If the JB rate is more than the OFP rate, the difference between the two should be paid on JB.

For example:

Anne is a single parent with one child has €40 means assessed, they will receive a One-Parent Family Payment of €148 + €29.80 = €177.80. Because she has means she is being paid a low rate of OFP.

- One parent family payment - €177.80

- Jobseekers benefit entitlement - €217

- Difference - €39.20

(Jobseeker's Benefit can be paid to this customer at a rate of €40, so that the total payment to the customer is €217.80 (maximum JB payable).

2. Living alone allowance payable anywhere in the world with a qualifying payment.

The only three qualifying payments it is paid on outside Ireland are

- State Contributory Pension

- Widows Contributory Pension (Where applicant is over 66)

- Invalidity Pension.