Life can be full of surprises, and for some of us, the hand we are dealt can be a difficult one to contend with. Today, we will look at the services and more specifically, the pensions available to those who are either widowed, disabled or seriously ill. These unexpected and difficult circumstances can often leave people feeling overwhelmed. It may be challenging to face the financial strain and emotional distress that comes with such misfortune but thankfully, there are several avenues of assistance available.
The Irish government provides its citizens with a range of schemes that provide financial assistance and other forms of support to individuals affected by illness, life-altering disabilities or dealing with the loss of a partner. These schemes provide a range of benefits, including welfare payments and assistance with housing, healthcare and other essential expenses. Unfortunately, many people may not be aware of these schemes, or they may find the application process too difficult. In this blog post, we will outline the different pensions available to those who need them and provide information on how to apply for them.
The pension available for widowed people is called the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension. It is a contributory pension which takes the form of a weekly payment to the husband, wife or civil partner of a deceased person. The payment takes place regardless of other assets or income you may be receiving. There are a number of criteria to meet in order to qualify for this payment. Firstly, you must have been married or entered into a civil partnership with the deceased and must be aged 66 or over. If you are below the age of 66 , you may be eligible to claim a One-Parent Family Payment (OFP). If you are divorced or if your civil partnership with the deceased party has been dissolved at the time of their death then you may still be entitled to your Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension.
It may be the case that you may automatically qualify for the pension upon your partners' untimely passing if they were already receiving a contributory state pension but this is something of a separate issue as the details of state pensions can vary from situation to situation.
If you're not eligible to automatically qualify for a benefit, then your PRSI contributions will be taken into account. This pension is a contributory pension meaning that either you or your deceased spouse or civil partner must have made enough social insurance contributions through PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance). It is important to note that all of the required contributions for PRSI must be met by a single person - you cannot satisfy the criteria with contributions from both spouses or civil partners. In addition to this, all contributions must have been made before the death of said spouse or partner.
At least 260 paid contributions must have been made before the relevant date by either you or your spouse/civil partner. The system is flexible enough that any of the following events may be used as the date by which to calculate your contributions.
Along with these contributions, there must be an average of 39 paid or credited contributions in either the 3 or 5 years prior to their death or reaching pension age. Alternatively, you must have an average of at least 24 paid or credited contributions per year from the year you first enter insurance until the year you die or reach pension age. If you use the average, then 24 entitles you to a minimum pension. However, if you want the full pension, you will need an average of 48 per year.
In September, the Irish Government released the details of their new budget for 2023, which includes provisions to increase financial support for those who are widowed. The budget states that from January 2023 on, weekly personal rates paid to the surviving civil partner or spouse will increase by an extra €12 a week. Additionally, any Widow's or Widower's pensions will be paid out fortnightly instead of monthly, allowing people to manage their finances more effectively and easily.
There are a range of additional benefits and payments available to people who have been widowed, depending on the individual's circumstances. The Irish Government's 2023 budget also included improved financial support for those who are disabled or ill such as the ‘Living Alone Allowance' which provides extra financial assistance to people living alone with a disability or illness. The allowance can help with additional living costs and is paid on a weekly basis, based on the individual's circumstances.
If you are a person living with disabilities, you may be eligible for the Invalidity Pension. This allowance is based on an assessment of your needs and is aimed at helping with additional living costs related to disability. It is a weekly payment which can be paid to people whose disability prevents them from working or engaging in sufficient gainful employment.
In order to qualify for the Invalidity Pension, you must have been permanently incapacitated by a physical or mental illness prior to your 66th birthday and must not have taken part in any regular employment (either full-time or part-time) for more than 3 months since being incapacitated. In addition, you must also satisfy a means test and, in similar fashion to the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension, have made the necessary social insurance contributions. At the age of 66 , you will be transferred automatically to the State Pension. As dictated by the new budget, from November 14, 2022 onwards people who receive the Invalidity Pension will get a €500 one-time payment and from January of next year the rate of the pension will increase by €12.
The means test carried out on applications for the Invalidity Pension is done to determine whether people are eligible for full or partial payment. In addition to meeting the prerequisite number of PRSI contributions you must also meet the medical conditions set by the Department of Social Protection. To meet these criteria you must prove that you are medically unfit to work and have been for at least 12 months and are likely to remain unable for a further 12 months, or you must be permanently incapable of work due to very serious illness or disability.
In conclusion, seeking out financial aid in the form of pensions can be a difficult process and one that can be daunting to navigate alone, especially if you are dealing with a life-altering condition. Ireland has a range of services and financial aid available to those who are widowed, disabled or ill that you as an Irish citizen are entitled to claim. These schemes are designed to help them live an independent life with the support they need.
By consulting a solicitor today, you can ensure that you get the most out of Ireland's financial aid schemes and make sure your future is secure. So if you or someone in your family needs help accessing Ireland’s legal system and government financial aid, contact Citizens Information Phone Service (CIPC). This is a nationwide service that can be reached on 0818074000 Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, also you can look up the Citizens Information online.
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