Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Know Your Rights: Flu vaccination


Question
I have been recommended to get a flu vaccination. Can I get it for free?
Answer
Influenza, usually known as the flu, is highly infectious and anyone can get it. However some groups are at greater risk of complications if they get the flu. This includes people over the age of 65, pregnant women and people who have a chronic medical condition.

The flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu. The flu virus changes every year and this is why there is a new vaccine each year. Vaccination is strongly recommended if you:
·         Are aged 65 and over
·         Have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart, kidney, liver, lung or neurological disease
·         Have an impaired immune system due to disease or treatment
·         Have a body mass index (BMI) over 40
·         Are pregnant
·         Live in a nursing home or other long-stay institution
·         Are a carer or a healthcare worker
·         Have regular contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs

You can get the vaccine from your GP (family doctor) or pharmacist. Children can get the vaccine from a GP.

The vaccine itself is free of charge if you are in one of the recommended groups.
However, doctors and pharmacists may charge a consultation fee when they give you the vaccine.
If you have a medical card or GP visit card, you can get the vaccine without being charged a consultation fee.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Know Your Rights: Funding for college



Question
I’m unemployed and planning to go to college. What funding is available for this?

Answer
Most undergraduate students attending publicly funded third-level courses for the first time will qualify for the Free Fees Initiative. You must meet criteria as regards residence, nationality and immigration status, as well as course requirements. If you qualify for free fees, you do not have to pay tuition fees. In addition to fees, there is a separate student contribution, which you pay to the college.

The student grant is the main financial support for students. The grant can cover all or part of your fees (if they are not already covered) and the student contribution and it can also provide some maintenance. To qualify for a grant, you and your course must meet certain criteria and you must pass a means test.

The Back to Education Allowance is available to people who have been getting certain social welfare payments for a set period of time before starting their course. You cannot get a Back to Education Allowance and the maintenance portion of a student grant at the same time. If you are eligible for both, you should find out which would be of more benefit to you.

The Free Fees Initiative, the student grant and the Back to Education Allowance all have rules regarding progression from previous studies. However, there are exceptions. If you intend to start a course at a level you have studied before, you should check whether the rules on progression apply to your situation.

If you do not qualify for the Free Fees Initiative or the student grant, you should find out whether Springboard can help you to return to education. Springboard provides free higher education courses related to specific areas in which there are employment opportunities.

If you have to pay tuition fees and a student contribution, you may qualify for tax relief. You can find out more about sources of funding, including the Student Assistance Fund for students experiencing financial hardship, on studentfinance.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Know Your Rights: Small Claims Procedure



Question
I am not happy with work that a builder did on my house and will have to pay for someone else to finish the job properly. What can I do to recoup the additional expense?

Answer
If your original builder is unwilling to compensate you, you may be able to pursue a claim against the builder through the Small Claims Procedure. The aim of this procedure is to provide an inexpensive, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve disputes without needing to employ a solicitor. The maximum amount you can claim is €2,000. The small claims service is provided through local District Court offices.

Anyone who has purchased goods or services for private use from someone selling them in the course of business may submit a claim using the Small Claims Procedure. You can make claims for faulty goods or bad workmanship, for minor damage to property, and for the non-return of rent deposits for certain kinds of rented properties, for example, a holiday home. Businesses involved in disputes with other businesses can also use the Small Claims Procedure.

To make a claim, you complete an application form which you can download from the Small Claims Procedure section of courts.ie or get from the Small Claims Registrar at the District Court office. Make sure you use the correct name and address of the person or company you want to make the claim against. The completed form and a fee of €25 should be lodged with the Small Claims Registrar. You can also apply online at the Courts Service Online website, csol.ie.

The Registrar sends a copy of your application to the person you are making the claim against. If the other party does not reply within 15 days of receiving your application, your claim will be automatically treated as undisputed and you can apply for a court order in your favour. If your claim is disputed, the Registrar will contact you and let you have a copy of the reasons why the other party is disputing your claim. The Registrar will try to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. If no settlement can be reached, the matter is then set for a court hearing in the District Court.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Know Your Rights: Lost or stolen passport


Question
What happens if my Irish passport is lost or stolen while I am travelling abroad? 
Answer
lf you lose your Irish passport abroad, you should immediately report the loss to the local police and to the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate. You will be asked to confirm the loss in writing or, if you are applying for a replacement, to include the details of the loss in your passport application.

You must also ask the local police for a written statement that you have reported the loss of your passport. A member of the police authority in the country in which the passport went missing must witness this statement.

You will need this police report to get a replacement passport or Emergency Travel Document from an Irish embassy or consulate.

If there is no Irish embassy or consulate in the country where you are, contact the embassy of any EU member state and they will get in touch with the nearest Irish embassy on your behalf. An embassy of another EU member state cannot issue you with a new Irish passport, but can, in some cases, issue an EU Emergency Travel Document for a single journey back to your country of permanent residence in the EU.

It may be useful to carry a photocopy of the personal data page of your passport with you when travelling, or to scan an image of that page and email it to yourself.

Any passport reported as lost or stolen is no longer a valid travel document. You should not try to travel on a passport that has been reported as lost or stolen.


Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330 
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, September 11, 2017

Know Your Rights: Student grant appeals


Question
I’ve applied for a student grant to start a college course this year but I didn’t get the grant I was expecting. What can I do?

Answer
Applications for the Student Grant Scheme are processed by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). If you are not happy with the outcome of your application, you can ask SUSI to review the decision if there has been a change in your circumstances or if you think your household income wasn’t assessed correctly. You can also request a review if you think you should get a special rate of grant or if you think there was an error in assessing the distance between your home and college (which affects whether you get an adjacent or non-adjacent rate)
.
You can request a review by using the online form on the website susi.ie.

You can also make an appeal to SUSI if you are not happy with your final grant decision or if you request a review and are not satisfied with the outcome. You must make the appeal within 30 days of the original grant decision. This deadline may be extended by a further 30 days if the Appeals Officer accepts that you have reasonable cause.

To appeal, you complete the form, available at susi.ie, explaining why you think SUSI applied the rules incorrectly. The Appeals Officer will notify you of the outcome within 30 days.

If your appeal is turned down you can submit a further appeal to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board, outlining why you believe the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in your case. When you get the written decision of the SUSI Appeals Officer it will include information on how to submit an appeal to the Student Grants Appeals Board.

The Board has 60 days to decide on your appeal and will write to you to let you know its decision. An appeal of this decision on a specific point of law is possible and can be made to the High Court.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, September 4, 2017

Know Your Rights - Who qualifies for Fuel Allowance and how is it paid

Question
Who qualifies for Fuel Allowance and how is it paid? 

Answer
Fuel Allowance is paid under the National Fuel Scheme, operated by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is intended to help people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and who are unable to meet their heating needs. The fuel season for 2017–2018 starts on Monday 2 October 2017.

Under the scheme, a Fuel Allowance of €22.50 per week is generally paid with your social welfare payment. For the 2017–2018 fuel season, the total allowance of €585 can be paid in two equal lump sums, one at the start of the season in October and the second in January. To avail of this payment option, you must complete the form FA CPF 1 which is available from your local post office or social welfare office. You can also get this form by texting FORM FUELCHANGE, followed by your name and address, to 51909. To get the lump sum in October 2017, you must submit your completed form before 15 September 2017. If you submit your form after this date there is no guarantee that you will receive the lump sum in October, but your weekly payment will continue until the January lump sum is issued.

Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment. If you are getting a non-contributory social welfare payment, you are accepted as satisfying the means test.

You must live alone or with someone who also qualifies for the allowance – you cannot get the allowance if you live with someone who does not qualify. Where two or more people living in the same household qualify for the allowance, only one allowance is paid. If your heating needs are met in other ways (for example, if you live in local authority housing where heating is provided), you do not qualify for Fuel Allowance.

If you think you are eligible, you should apply immediately because  the allowance will not be backdated after the start of the fuel season in October. The application form for Fuel Allowance (NFS1) is available at your post office or social welfare office, or by texting FORM FUEL followed by your name and address to 51909.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Know Your Rights: Cycle to Work Scheme



Question
I bought a bike under the Cycle to Work tax scheme in December 2013. The bike was stolen last week. Can I use the scheme again when I buy a replacement bike?

Answer
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 or the Universal Social Charge are deducted) over a period of up to 12 months. 

You can only avail of the scheme once in a five-year period. The tax year in which the bike is purchased is counted as the first year. So, if you used the scheme in 2013 (regardless of the month), you can use it again if you want to buy another bike in 2018 (from January). 

You must use the bicycle and safety equipment mainly for qualifying journeys. This means all or part of your journey to and from work.

If you buy a bike in 2018, you cannot get another bike under the Cycle to Work Scheme until 2023. 
If you are concerned about another theft you could insure your new bike under your household insurance policy or you could use a special cycle insurance scheme.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000