Maintaining your financial well-being after you are unexpectedly faced with caring for a child with additional needs, or an illness, can be difficult. This blog post is written for those who are considering taking time out from their career to care for a child that needs extra care, above and beyond that of the everyday requirements of a child of a similar age/stage.
Nobody is ever prepared for having a child with additional needs or a child becoming ill. Aside from the emotional impact on a parent’s well-being, there is also an impact on their financial well-being. It is not always a simple case of stepping back from the workforce. Bills still need to be paid and food still needs to be put on the table, particularly if you have other children. Add to this, the cost of attending a long list of medical appointments (hospital car park fees are crazy!!) Theres also the extra costs you experience when staying in the hospital with your child. All the little costs add up to an overall large financial outgoing you hadn’t expected or planned for. Trying to juggle a fulltime job while going through all of this will become extremely difficult to manage.
Firstly, I would recommend you speak to your GP or the child’s medical team to get a clear understanding of the situation. Is it a short-term illness or will it go on for longer than 12 months? If it’s the latter, then I suggest you apply for Domiciliary Care Allowance. Once granted, then look at the possibility of taking carers leave from work to care for the child fulltime.
I have set out below a step-by-step guide if you are facing this situation and considering taking time out from work.
Apply for the Domiciliary Care Allowance through the department of social protection (note: they are known to reject first time, make sure to appeal the decision if you are rejected) – click HERE to find out more details about the Domiciliary Care Allowance.
Prepare two budgets. The first budget will set out your current financial position. The second budget is to set out your financial position if you were in receipt of carers benefit. Look to my previous post on budgeting for financial resiliance HERE if you are not sure how to prepare a budget.
Once you have a realistic picture of your financial situation in both circumstances, ask yourself, can your household manage financially if you are in receipt of carers benefit? If not, then examine your income if you continued to work just a few hours each week. You are permitted to work a set number of hours each week while in receipt of carers benefit (currently 18.5 hours). That may make it more achievable for some and many employers would be agreeable to it. However, do keep in mind that there is a maximum earnings limit for work you undertake while in receipt of carers benefit (currently €350 after tax per week).
If approved for the Domiciliary Care Allowance, your next step is to discuss with your employer the option to take carers leave. Carers leave can be taken in a few formats, so it is a good idea to sit with your employer to find out which works best for all involved. Although there is a statutory entitlement to carers leave, your employer does not have to pay you while you are on carers leave. Click HERE to find out more.
When you arrive at an agreement with your employer regarding carers leave, you can then fill out the form for carers benefit. Your employer will need to complete a section of the carers benefit application form also. Check the eligibility criteria for carers benefit HERE.
Important Points to Note
Carers benefit is a non-means tested payment for an individual who is required to take time off work for caring duties. Do not confuse Carers Benefit with Carers Allowance. Carers Allowance is a means tested payment. It is also important to note that Carers Benefit is a taxable source of income so notify the revenue commissioners. They can adjust your tax credits and standard rate cut off band if you continue to work a few hours each week.
There is so much more I could add to this, but its too much for one blog post. Instead, I’ll upload some short posts over the next few weeks.