Sunday, June 18, 2017

Know Your Rights: Medical card and Domiciliary Care Allowance


Question
I’m getting Domiciliary Care Allowance for my daughter so I was happy to hear that medical card cover was being extended to children who qualify for the payment. The medical card application form seems to require a lot of information that doesn’t appear relevant in this situation. Is there another way to apply?
Answer
You don’t need to complete the medical card application form to get the medical card for your daughter. The medical card for children who qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) isn’t subject to a means test so information about your income is not required.

Instead, you can register your child online by going to the website medicalcard.ie  and clicking on ‘Medical Cards (DCA)’. The site also has a form you can download if you prefer to apply by post. 
You will need to provide the following information:

Your Personal Public Service (PPS) Number and contact details
Your child’s PPS Number and date of birth
The name and address of your child’s GP

The website includes a list of GPs who are participating in the scheme. If your GP of choice is accepting applications electronically, your child’s details will be sent to them. If not, you will be emailed a copy of the relevant details, which you can print out and bring to the GP. 

Once the GP accepts your child to their GMS patient list, the registration will be finalised by the National Medical Card Unit and a medical card in your child’s name will be sent to you. 

If you have questions about the medical card, you can call the information line on Lo-call 1890 252 919.

Further information is also 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, June 11, 2017

Know Your Rights: Retirement age


Question
My employer says that I have to retire when I reach the age of 65. Can an employer make you retire at a certain age?

Answer
There is no single fixed retirement age for employees. If you are employed, your retirement age should be set out in your contract of employment. The usual retirement age in contracts of employment is 65.

Many contracts have provisions for early retirement from age 60 (or in some cases from age 55) and most have provision for early retirement on health grounds. Some occupations – for example, firefighters, An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces – have provisions for earlier retirement.

While employment equality legislation prohibits discrimination on the grounds of age, employers are still allowed to set retirement ages in employment contracts. Since 1 January 2016, under the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 an employer may set a compulsory retirement age if the employer can objectively justify the retirement age of an employee. This could be for health and safety reasons, for example, the physical demands and requirements of the job.

If an employee has reached the employer’s mandatory age of retirement, this legislation provides that they may still be legitimately offered fixed-term contracts, provided that it is objectively justified. The provisions of the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 would still apply.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) provides information on your rights and entitlements under employment legislation. For further information about your contract of employment and retirement age you can contact the WRC’s Information and Customer Service at Lo-call 1890 80 80 90 or through the website, workplacerelations.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

Monday, June 5, 2017

Know Your Rights: Long-term illness and the State Pension



Question
I’ve been on Illness Benefit for over a year. I don’t ever expect to be fit to return to work. As I’m now nearing pension age, will I be entitled to a full State Pension (Contributory)?
Answer 
The State Pension (Contributory) is paid to people from the age of 66 who have enough social insurance contributions. To qualify, you will need to have paid at least 520 full-rate contributions, which is equivalent to 10 years. The amount of the pension will depend on your average number of contributions per year. Illness Benefit is paid for a maximum of two years. It will end before that if you turn 66, when you may be eligible for a State Pension. You should apply for the State Pension three months before your 66th birthday.

If your entitlement to Illness Benefit ends before you reach pension age at 66 and you are likely to be permanently incapable of work, you may qualify for Invalidity Pension. To get Invalidity Pension you must have at least 260 (or five years) paid PRSI contributions and 48 contributions paid or credited in the last complete tax year before the date of your claim. The last complete tax year is the year before your claim. For example, if you claim Invalidity Pension in 2017, the last complete tax year is 2016. Note that only PRSI paid in classes A, E and H currently count.

If you get Invalidity Pension, you will automatically transfer to the State Pension (Contributory) at the full rate when you turn 66.

You will be contacted by the Department of Social Protection  before your Illness Benefit is due to stop and you will be given information about your options. If at that stage, you don’t qualify for Invalidity Pension and have a disability that is expected to last for a year or more, you may qualify for a means-tested Disability Allowance.

You can get detailed information about the State Pension and payments for people with long-term illnesses from the website of the Department of Social Protection. 
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: 076 107 6330 
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 076 107 4000

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Know Your Rights: Treatment Benefit Scheme and the self-employed


Question
I run a small business and pay Class S PRSI. My wife works part-time. Are we both entitled to medical benefits under the Treatment Benefit Scheme?

Answer
Since 27 March 2017, the Treatment Benefit Scheme has been extended to cover self-employed people who have paid sufficient Class S PRSI contributions. The scheme is run by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and provides dental, optical and aural services to qualified people. You should contact the DSP or your treatment provider to check your eligibility before proceeding with any treatment. The number of PRSI contributions required depends on your age.

Your wife may qualify in her own right if she has enough contributions. If she doesn’t have enough, she may still qualify for Treatment Benefit on your social insurance record. To do this, you must qualify for Treatment Benefit and she must be dependent on you. To be considered dependent she must:
·         Have a gross income of €100 or less per week or
·         Earn more than €100 per week and have been dependent on you before entering or resuming insurable employment (at Class A, E, H, P or S) or
·         Not be getting a social welfare payment (except Disablement Pension, Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Carer’s Benefit or Child Benefit) or
·         Have a Carer’s Allowance or State Pension (Non-Contributory) and have been dependent on you immediately before getting this payment

Benefits under the scheme include an annual oral examination by private dentists on a DSP panel. Most dentists are on the panel so you shouldn’t have difficulty finding one. The scheme also provides for a free eyesight test but does not include sight tests for computer screens or driving licences. Half the cost of medically required contact lenses and hearing aids, up to a maximum amount, may also be covered. Opticians, optometrists or hearing aid suppliers providing the treatment or hearing products must have a contract with the DSP.

You can get detailed information on the Treatment Benefit Scheme on welfare.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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Know Your Rights: Press Ombudsman


Question
I want to complain about an article that was in a national newspaper recently. How can I do this?

Answer
The Office of the Press Ombudsman deals with complaints against publications that are members of the Press Council of Ireland. This is done free of charge without having to go to court. You can make a complaint about any article that personally affects you. You can also complain about the behaviour of a journalist. The article or the behaviour must be in breach of the professional standards and behaviours set out in the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals.

You must first make your complaint to the editor of the newspaper or magazine which published the article, explaining why you think the Code has been breached. If you don’t get a response or you are not happy with the response, you can complain to the Office of the Press Ombudsman within three months of the publication of the article or the behaviour of the journalist. The complaint must be made in writing by email or post and must:
·         Show how you are personally affected
·         Indicate which parts of the code of practice have been breached and why
·         Include a dated copy of the article
·         Include copies of correspondence between you and the editor

The Office will first seek to have your complaint resolved through conciliation and/or mediation. This usually takes four to six weeks. If the matter is referred to the Press Ombudsman for a decision, it may take a further two weeks.

If the decision is in your favour, the newspaper or magazine must publish the decision unless it is appealed. If you are not happy with the decision, you can appeal to the Press Council of Ireland within two weeks.
You can get detailed information on how to make a complaint to the Press Ombudsman at citizensinformation.ie or from the Office of the Press Ombudsman.

Further information is also 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, May 14, 2017

Know Your Rights: Apprenticeships



Question
I’m leaving school soon but I don’t want to go to college. What other options do I have?

Answer
You could consider looking for an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship involves on-the-job training with an employer. It will prepare you for work in a specific area or craft such as construction, engineering, motor or electrical. You can find information about different types of apprenticeships on the website apprenticeship.ie.
Apprentices get an allowance while training on the job. Their employer pays a recommended apprenticeship wage. The rates of pay can vary, depending on the apprenticeship and on your employer. Generally, rates will rise as you gain more skills.  During off-the-job training, a craft apprentice allowance is paid. The allowance is calculated in relation to the take-home wages paid in each trade sector. Sometimes, you will also get a contribution towards travel or accommodation costs.

It can take two to four years to complete an apprenticeship.

To be accepted, you must be at least 16 years of age and have a minimum of grade D in any five subjects in the Junior Certificate or equivalent. Some employers may require higher educational qualifications. If you don't have the required grades, you can still be registered by an employer as an apprentice if you satisfactorily complete an approved pre-apprenticeship course.

To secure an apprenticeship, the first step is to find an employer who employs apprentices in the specific craft or occupation that you are interested in. The website apprenticeship.ie lists websites that advertise apprenticeship vacancies.

If you are interested in taking up an apprenticeship, contact the Apprenticeship Section of your local Education and Training Board (ETB) for advice.

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, April 27, 2017

Know Your Rights: Public petitions

Question
There is an important issue that I feel isn’t being considered by the Oireachtas but should be. I’ve heard that it is possible to make a petition directly to a parliamentary petitions committee. How does this work?

Answer 
The Joint Committee on Public Petitions considers petitions from members of the public on matters in which the Houses of the Oireachtas have the power to act. Anyone except for members of the Oireachtas can submit a petition.

To make a petition, you fill out a form which is available on the Oireachtas website oireachtas.ie. The form can be submitted by post, by email or online and only one signature is required. The committee secretariat can assist you in completing the form and can also give advice on the type of petitions which can be accepted.
You should be able to show that you have already taken steps to resolve the issue, for example, through raising it with the Ombudsman or directly with the relevant government department.
The Joint Committee will not consider a complaint which has been the subject of a decision by an Ombudsman, a regulatory public body or a body set up for the purpose of redress.

If the petition is accepted, the Committee may respond to it in a number of ways. It may:
Refer the petition to another appropriate committee, Ombudsman, regulatory public body or redress body
Report to the Dáil and Seanad with recommendations
Request the petitioner to attend a meeting and address the committee
The parliamentary petitions system is a way that you can take your concerns directly to Parliament and seek to influence the parliamentary agenda. Further information on the Joint Committee on Public Petitions is available on oireachtas.ie or from the Citizens Information Centre 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