Home » FAQs

FAQs

Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights
My four-year-old son is starting primary school in September. My only income is my One-Parent Family Payment and €120 from a part-time job. I don’t get any maintenance and I’m worried about the extra costs involved in sending my son to school. What help c

As you are getting a social welfare payment, you may be entitled to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) which can help with back-to-school expenses. Your weekly income must be below a certain level.

You are currently getting a One-Parent Family Payment of €229.80 (including a child payment) and earning €120. Your weekly income of €349.80 is below the income limit of €425.10 for a lone parent with one child so you qualify for BSCFA. In 2018, the payment is €125 for a qualified child aged 4–11.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection pays BSCFA automatically in many cases. If you haven’t received a letter from the Department by mid-July, you need to apply by 30 September 2018.

Application forms are available on welfare.ie, or from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. You can also request a form by texting ‘Form BTSCFA’ followed by your name and address to 51909 or by emailing the Department at BSCFA@welfare.ie.

The Department of Education and Skills runs a School Books Grant Scheme which is available to State-funded schools to help with the cost of school books. Some schools run a Textbook Rental Scheme or can help with the cost of buying textbooks. You should contact the principal of your son’s school to find out if any of these options are available.

Know Your Rights
Our neighbours often have noisy parties that keep us awake at night. We don’t really want to call the Gardaí – what else can we do?

Noise nuisance can be a frustrating problem, especially if your family’s sleep is disturbed. You should first talk to your neighbours about the noise and explain how it is affecting your family. Keep a note of these discussions. You could also keep a noise diary, noting the type of noise, time, date, duration and its effects on your family.

If this doesn’t work, you can write to your neighbours, giving details of the noise and how it is disturbing you. You may suggest to them that you will take legal action if the noise continues. Keep copies of your communication with them.

If your neighbours are private tenants, they are not allowed to engage in anti-social behaviour – this includes persistent noise that interrupts the peace of other homes. You can complain directly to the landlord if you do not get a satisfactory response from the tenants. You can also complain to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) if the landlord does not deal with the problem. (The landlord must be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board.)

Tenants of local authority housing must also avoid any nuisance (including noise) to other people in the neighbourhood. If the noise persists, the tenants are in breach of their tenancy agreement and the local authority can take steps to enforce the terms of the agreement.

If the noise continues to be a problem, you could check if there are mediation services available in your area to help you resolve the dispute. You can also file a complaint in the District Court. At least seven days before the date for the hearing of your case, you must serve notice on your neighbours, using the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 - noise form of notice. If the court finds in your favour, it can order your neighbours to take measures to prevent or limit the noise.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights
I am a pensioner living alone. I used to get an allowance towards my telephone bill, but it stopped a few years ago. I heard it might be coming back – is this true?

The allowance you used to get was the Telephone Allowance, which was a monthly payment towards your mobile phone or landline and was part of the Household Benefits Package. This payment was discontinued in January 2014.

What you may have heard about is the new Telephone Support Allowance (TSA). The TSA is a weekly payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) which aims to help with the cost of communications and/or home alert systems for people who live alone and have limited means.

To qualify for the TSA, you must be getting both the Living Alone Increase and the Fuel Allowance along with another social welfare payment such as the State Pension. Since the week of 4 June 2018, the TSA has been paid automatically to people who qualify. There is no application form and you do not need to contact the DEASP to apply.

The TSA is a payment of €2.50 a week. It is paid in addition to your weekly social welfare payment.

If you believe you should qualify for the TSA but have not been getting it since 4 June, contact the DEASP section that pays your main pension or benefit. You can find these contact details on welfare.ie

Know Your Rights
My daughter is leaving school and she is thinking about doing an apprenticeship. How can she qualify for an apprenticeship and how much are apprentices paid?

An apprenticeship is the recognised way that people are trained in a craft trade or profession. It involves both training on-the-job with an employer and training off-the-job in an education centre.

To be eligible for an apprenticeship, your daughter must be at least 16 and should have at least a grade D in five subjects in the Junior Cert. However, some employers may only take on an apprentice with higher qualifications or may have other requirements. If your daughter doesn’t have the required qualifications, she might still be able to do an apprenticeship – she should check with her local Education and Training Board (ETB).

Traditional craft apprenticeships include construction, electrical engineering and motor sectors. For example, there are apprenticeships in carpentry, plumbing, car mechanics and electrical trades. This type of apprenticeship usually lasts for four years. Your daughter should contact the apprenticeship section of her local ETB.

New occupational apprenticeships are being developed in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technology, insurance, finance, accountancy, logistics and hospitality. These apprenticeships last between two and four years. For these, your daughter should apply to the industry lead for the apprenticeship she is interested in. She can also contact the apprenticeship section of her local ETB for information.

While your daughter is training on-the-job, her employer will pay her a recommended apprenticeship wage. If she is training in certain sectors, SOLAS pays a weekly allowance equal to that wage while she is training off-the-job. In all other sectors, her off-the-job payments will depend on her employer, although SOLAS will contribute to travel and accommodation costs.

Your daughter can find a full list of apprenticeships on apprenticeship.ie.

Know Your Rights
I am unhappy with the result in one of my Leaving Cert subjects and think that I should have got a higher grade. How can I get the grade checked?

If you are not satisfied with the mark you got in a Leaving Certificate subject, you can appeal this result to the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

Before you decide to appeal, you can view your examination script at the school where you sat the exam. When you get your exam results, your school will get a personalised application form for you. If you want to view your exam script, you must complete this form and return it to your school by 21 August 2018.

The Organising Superintendent appointed by the SEC will assign you to one of the viewing sessions, on either 31 August or 1 September. You can only view your scripts from the written examinations – not the results of oral examinations or marks for practical examinations.

If you decide to  appeal your result, you can use the online Appeals Application Service. This service will be available from 12 noon on 20 August 2018. You need your examination number and PIN to access this service.

When you apply online and pay the fee, you will get an Appeal Confirmation Form, which you must print and bring to the Organising Superintendent in your school no later than 3 September 2018.

If you cannot use the online service, you must contact the SEC for a personalised appeal application form, pay the appeal fee in a bank and get the bank to stamp the form to confirm payment. Bring the stamped form to the Organising Superintendent in your school no later than 3 September 2018.

Your script will then be sent to an appeal examiner for re-marking.

The appeal fee is €40 per subject for the Established Leaving Certificate. The appeal fee for the Applied Leaving Certificate is €15.50 per subject. You will get this fee back if your result is upgraded.

Know Your Rights
I have an extra room in my home and I would like to rent it out. Will I have to pay tax on this rental income?

If you rent out a room in your home, the rental income you earn is exempt from income tax, PRSI and the Universal Social Charge – provided it is less than €14,000 in a tax year (1 January to 31 December). This is called rent-a-room relief. Rental income includes the total rent and any money that the tenant pays directly to you for food, utilities, laundry or similar services. The income you get must be under the exemption limit of €14,000. If it is over this limit, you are taxed on the total amount.

Your home must be in the State and you must occupy it as your sole residence during the year of assessment. This means that it is your home for most of the year and is where people would normally expect to make contact with you.

Some self-contained units qualify for this relief but they must be attached to your home, for example, a basement flat in your home.  

You do not have to own the property to get rent-a-room relief – you can be a tenant sub-letting to someone else. In this case, you should check with your landlord that sub-letting is allowed.

The rent-a-room relief applies only to residential tenancies, not to short-term guest arrangements, and tenants must use the room on a long-term basis. So, renting a room to a student for the academic year or for a one-month course is covered, but providing accommodation to occasional visitors for short periods, for example, through an online accommodation booking site, is not.

You cannot claim the relief if you are renting a room to your civil partner, son or daughter, or if you are an employee and your company pays you to allow clients to use the room on an occasional basis.

Know Your Rights
I am parenting alone and getting a One-Parent Family Payment. I would like to go back to college. What are my options?

Your options depend on your circumstances. You can go back to education and transfer onto the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) or you can choose to keep your One-Parent Family payment. You will need to assess whether it is more beneficial for you to transfer to the BTEA when you go back to education or to remain on your One-Parent Family Payment and apply for a student grant.

 

If you go onto the BTEA, you will not be eligible for the maintenance component of the student grant. However, you can apply under the student grant scheme for a fee grant to cover the student contribution and course fees/field trip costs (where appropriate). You can also keep your Rent Supplement, medical card and other secondary benefits you may have. If you qualify for the BTEA, you are also entitled to an annual Cost of Education Allowance of €500 as you have a dependent child.

 

If you stay on your One-Parent Family Payment and are studying full-time on an approved course, you can apply for both the maintenance and fee components of the student grant. If you study part-time, you may be able to keep your Rent Supplement. However if you go back to full-time education and stay on your One-Parent Family Payment, you will no longer be eligible for Rent Supplement. If you are on the Rental Accommodation Scheme or living in local authority housing, you continue to pay your differential rent. However, this may be affected by the student grant, depending on your other sources of income.

 

Visit studentfinance.ie to find out more about financial supports while studying.

Know Your Rights
I am 23 years of age and I live with my partner (aged 25) who is currently unemployed and getting Jobseeker’s Allowance. I am now also looking for work. How much Jobseeker’s Allowance am I entitled to?

In general, people aged under 26 get a reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

 

As you are cohabiting, you have two payment options. Your partner could claim for you as a dependent adult on their Jobseeker’s Allowance claim. They would be paid their personal payment of €152.80 and €131.40 for you each week. This would give you a total household weekly payment of €284.20.

 

Alternatively, if you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance in your own right, the maximum personal amount you are eligible for is €107.70 a week. Even though the rate paid is less, it might be more beneficial for you because, as a claimant in your own right, you may be eligible for a range of training and employment schemes to help you into employment.

 

If you take up a place on a course of education or training or on an employment support scheme, you get a higher rate of payment. For example, all Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) participants aged under 26 who were getting a reduced age-related Jobseeker’s Allowance payment, get a maximum BTEA rate of €198 per week.

 

You can find the full list of current Jobseeker’s Allowance rates online at citizensinformation.ie.

Know Your Rights
I have a small farm that I work on full-time but the profit margins are very low. I am married with two children. Is there any State support available?

Farm Assist is a means-tested social welfare payment for farmers aged between 18 and 66, paid by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). To qualify, you must satisfy a means test.

To qualify for Farm Assist, you must show that your means are below a certain level. Your means include:

Any income that you and your spouse or partner have (including income from farming, other forms of self-employment and from schemes)

Any property that you and your spouse or partner have (except your home)

Other asset(s) that could provide you with an income

When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare officer visits you to carry out the means test.

Different assessment rules apply to different types of income. For farm income, 70% is assessed but there is an annual disregard of €254 for each of your dependent children. (The disregards for your children are applied first and 70% of the balance is assessed.)

Your means from all sources are added together to get a total assessed weekly means. If your weekly means are less than the maximum rate of Farm Assist (that is, the maximum amount your family could get if you had no means), you will be paid the difference between your means and the maximum rate.

You can apply by filling out form Farm 1 which you can download from welfare.ie. You can also get forms from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

Know Your Rights
My partner and I are planning to get married abroad next year. What do we need to do?

You should contact the civil registration office in the country in which you plan to marry to find out what you need to do. The legal validity of your marriage depends on the laws of the country in which you marry. The legal formalities abroad are usually different to those in Ireland. For example, a church marriage abroad is usually a purely religious ceremony with no legal effect. You may decide to have a civil marriage in Ireland followed by a religious ceremony abroad.

Although you must meet the requirements of the country you are marrying in, you are still bound by Irish law in relation to the capacity to marry. For example, if you ordinarily live in Ireland and one or both of you is aged under 18, you must have a Court Exemption Order to marry. If you marry abroad without this, your marriage will not be recognised under Irish law.

Marriages that take place outside the State are not normally registered in Ireland. They are usually registered in the country where they take place. Your foreign marriage certificate will usually be accepted for official purposes in Ireland if you need to show evidence that you are married. If the certificate is in a foreign language, you must provide an official translation or a translation from a recognised translation agency.

You may require a Certificate of Freedom to Marry to get married in some foreign countries. This may also be called "Certificate de Coutume" or "Certificate of Nulla Osta". You apply online to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry. You should apply at least four months before the date of your marriage. It normally costs €60 per person. However, if you apply 28 days or less before the date of your marriage, the fee rises to €120 per person

Know Your Rights
I would like to make a will. Do I need to go to a solicitor or can I draw up the will myself?

It is important for you to make a will because, if you do not, the law on intestacy decides what happens to your property in the event of your death.

Writing a will can ensure that proper arrangements are made for your dependants and that your property is distributed in the way you wish after your death (subject to certain rights of spouses or civil partners and children).

You can draw up a will yourself or you can hire a solicitor to help you. All of the following legal requirements apply:

The will must be in writing.

You must be over 18 (unless you are or have been married).

You must be of sound mind.

You must sign or mark the will or acknowledge the signature or mark in the presence of two witnesses.

Your two witnesses must sign the will in your presence.

Your two witnesses cannot be people who will gain from your will and they must be present with you at the same time for their attestation to be valid. The witnesses' spouses or civil partners also cannot gain from your will.

Your witnesses must see you sign the will but they do not have to see what is written in it.

The signature or mark must be at the end of the will.

If any of these requirements are not met, the will is not legally valid. If you want to change your will after you make it, you can add a codicil (amendment or change) to your will. This codicil must meet the requirements set out above.

You should keep an updated list of your assets. You can use a form to record where your possessions are kept. This makes it easier to identify and trace your assets after you die. You should keep the list in a safe place.

Know Your Rights
My daughter is repeating a year at college and both the Student Contribution and tuition fees are due this year. Can I claim any tax relief for her third-level course?

You may be able to claim tax relief on tuition fees (including the Student Contribution) that you pay for your daughter’s course.

Tax relief is given at the standard rate of 20%. You can claim it as long as you have actually paid the fees, either for yourself or for another person. There is no limit on the number of people you can claim for.

The maximum amount of fees (including the Student Contribution) that qualify for tax relief is €7,000 per person per course. However, there is no tax relief on the first €3,000 spent on tuition fees, including the Student Contribution (€1,500 for part-time students). If you are claiming for more than one student, you get full tax relief on tuition fees (including the Student Contribution) for the second and subsequent students.

For both undergraduates and postgraduates, the approved course can be full or part-time in a private or publicly-funded third-level college in Ireland or in any other EU member state. (Postgraduate students can also claim for approved courses in non-EU countries.)

Undergraduate courses must be of at least two years’ duration while postgraduate courses can be between one and four years. For postgraduate courses, students must already have a primary degree or equivalent. Tax relief may also be available for approved foreign language and IT courses that are less than two years’ duration and which result in the award of a certificate of competence (the fees paid must be over €315 and under €1,270).

Lists of courses and colleges approved for relief each year are published on the Revenue website.

You can claim tax relief on tuition fees using Revenue’s myAccount service. Alternatively you can download an application form from revenue.ie and return the completed form to your Revenue office.

County Offaly Citizen's Information Service CLG - (Supported and Funded by the Citizens Information Board)
The Bridge Centre, Tullamore, Offaly, R35 Y6Y7, Ireland
Company Registration Number: 316292  E-mail: offaly@citinfo.ie
Copyright © 2018 County Offaly Citizen's Information Service CLG