One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is a payment for people in Ireland who are bringing children up without the support of a partner. It is payable to an unmarried person, a widow(er), a prisoner’s spouse, a separated or divorced person, or one whose marriage has been annulled. It is subject to certain conditions and you must satisfy a means test. If you are divorced or unmarried, you must also have attempted to seek maintenance from the child’s other parent (i.e., father or mother).
Your One-Parent Family Payment is made up of a personal rate and extra amounts for your dependent children. The amount you receive depends on your weekly means. If you qualify for the payment, you will receive a book of payable orders which you can cash weekly at your post office or you can have your payment paid directly into your bank account. Since 16 February 2006, you must use your Social Services Card at the post office to collect your money. When you get your Social Services Card, sign the back of it and keep it in a safe place. You can avail of the Household Budget Scheme, a scheme to help you manage your bills if you are receiving the payment. You may also be eligible for other benefits such as fuel allowance, Family Income Supplement, the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme or a medical card. If you consider that you have been wrongly refused One-Parent Family Payment, or you are unhappy about a decision of a Social Welfare Deciding Officer about your entitlements, you have the option of appealing this decision. You must have the main “care and charge” of at least one child, who is under 18 years of age or aged 18-22 and in full-time education. One-Parent Family Payment is not payable if a couple have joint equal custody of a child or children.
- The child must live with you
- You are not cohabiting
- You have earnings of €400 (€425 from May 2008) or less per week.
- You have to satisfy a means test: this includes your income, any maintenance payments you get, the value of any property other than your home, any savings, investments or cash income you may have. Vouched housing costs (mortgage or rent) up to €4,952 a year (€95.23 per week) paid to a landlord (excluding a relative) or a lending agency can be offset against maintenance payments. One-half of the balance of maintenance, over and above the amount permitted for housing, is then assessable as means. You must provide evidence of housing costs must be provided such as a rent receipt/book from your landlord or a statement of mortgage repayments. Claimants who are receiving maintenance with no allowable housing costs can also qualify, with one-half of the total maintenance received being disregarded.
- You must be habitually resident.
If you are separated or divorced, you must:
- Have been separated for at least three months
- Have made efforts to get maintenance from your spouse
- Be inadequately maintained by your spouse.
If you are unmarried you will:
- Be required to seek maintenance from the other parent of your child and
- Be the parent of a qualified child
If your spouse is in prison:
- They must have been sentenced to at least six months in prison or have spent at least six months in custody.
One-Parent Family Payment and EU Regulations
From 5 May 2005, EU citizens, EEA citizens and Swiss nationals, who are employed or self-employed in Ireland and who are paying into the Irish Social Insurance System do not have to meet the habitual residence criteria to qualify for One-Parent Family payment. If you are an EU/EEA citizen or Swiss national, you can also get One-Parent Family Payment if you become unemployed and are getting Jobseeker’s Benefit. You must meet all other qualifying criteria for One-Parent Family Payment.
If you have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment and you have earnings above the prescribed ceiling of €400 (€425 from May 2008), you are entitled to a Transitional Payment that is equivalent to one-half of your rate of One-Parent Family Payment for six months. You can only get a Transitional Payment if you have been getting One-Parent Family Payment for a continuous period of at least 52 weeks. If you qualified for a Transitional Payment on or after 5 April 2001, you will receive payment for an aggregate period of 52 weeks in total. If you were receiving or were entitled to a Transitional Payment before 5 April 2001, you will continue to receive payment for up to 52 weeks. The new provisions, which date from 5 April 2001, will apply to you if you ever requalify for a Transitional Payment. New applicants with earnings over €400 per week (€425 from May 2008) will not qualify for One-Parent Family Payment.
One-Parent Family Payment and Deserted Wife’s Benefit
If you had to transfer from Deserted Wife’s Benefit to One-Parent Family Payment in order to be accepted as a participant on a Community Employment Scheme, you can now apply to have your entitlement to Deserted Wife’s Benefit restored. While Deserted Wife’s Benefit is closed to new applicants, it is still paid to those who had qualified for it before 2 January 1997. The maximum weekly rate of payment for Deserted Wife’s Benefit is higher than the maximum weekly rate of payment for One-Parent Family Payment. If you qualify to have your entitlement to Deserted Wife’s Benefit restored you may also be due arrears.
Calculation of income from employment for One-Parent Family Payment
The payment you receive will depend on your weekly means. Income from employment is calculated as follows:
- The first €146.50 of your weekly earnings is not taken into account. This means that you can earn up to €146.50 per week and qualify for the full One-Parent Family Payment. (From May 2008, social insurance contributions, health contributions, superannuation contributions and trade union subscriptions will not be taken into account in the assessment of earnings).
- Half the remainder of your earnings up to €400 per week (€425 from May 2008) is assessed as means. If you earn between €146.50 and €400 per week (€425 from May 2008) you may qualify for a reduced payment.
You must apply for the One-Parent Family Payment within 3 months of becoming eligible.
One-Parent Family Payment and other social welfare payments
You may be entitled to half the personal rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit, Illness Benefit, Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit, Health and Safety Benefit or Occupational Injury Benefit along with your One-Parent Family Payment, for a limited time. You are not entitled to a Fuel Allowance if you are getting half the personal rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit, Illness Benefit or Occupational Injury Benefit with your One-Parent Family Payment.
One-Parent Family Payment and work
If you take up full time work you may be eligible for extra tax allowances under the Revenue Job Assist scheme. You can work in a Intreo employment scheme and still retain part or all of your One-Parent Family Payment. Contact your local Intreo office for details.You can return to education through the Back to Education Programme and retain your One-Parent Family Payment, under certain conditions. If you are receiving One-Parent Family Payment for at least 15 months (12 months if you are aged 50 or over), you may qualify for the Back to Work Allowance (Employees) instead of a One-Parent Family Payment if you take up employment.You may keep a certain percentage of your payment for 3 years. You may also keep any secondary benefits (for example, Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance), subject to certain conditions. You will also retain your medical card for 3 years, regardless of income.
If you are receiving One-Parent Family Payment for at least 12 months and you want to become self-employed, you may qualify for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance instead of a One-Parent Family Payment. You may keep a certain percentage of your payment for 4 years. You may also keep any secondary benefits you already have (for example, Back to School Clothing) subject to certain conditions. You will also keep your medical card for the duration of the scheme. If you take part in certain employment schemes (for example, the Back to Work Allowance scheme), you will retain your secondary benefits, not including Rent/Mortgage Interest Supplement, as long as your weekly income (that is, income less PRSI and reasonable travelling expenses) is less than €317.43 per week.
Your income from the Back to Work Allowance scheme, the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme and Family Income Supplement is not taken into account for the purpose of the €317.43 weekly income limit. From April 2007, if you are getting a One-Parent Family Payment and take time off work following the birth of a child you will get credited contributions.
How to apply
- Download and complete Form OFP1 and send it with the relevant supporting documents to the Department of Social and Family Affairs at the address below.
- If you are widowed, you should apply within 3 months of your spouse’s death.
- If you are unmarried, you should apply within 3 months of the birth of your child.
- If you are separated/divorced, you should apply within 6 months of the date you separated from your spouse. You must be separated 3 months before you are eligible to apply.
- If you are a prisoner’s spouse, you should apply when your spouse has been in custody for at least 6 months without being sentenced or Starts their sentence, which must be for at least 6 months.
- Staff in your local social welfare office will be happy to help you complete the application form and answer any questions you may have.
Where to apply
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Pension Services Office
College Road, Sligo, Ireland
Tel: (071) 916 9800/ (01) 874 8444