Dáil Éireann - Volume 627 - 14 November, 2006
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of applications his Department has received for separate payments each year in the past five years; the number of payments that are currently being paid in this way; the circumstances in which this payment option applies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37626/06]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: A person in receipt of a social welfare payment is entitled to claim an increase in respect of an adult or child dependant. Usually any such increase is paid as a single payment with the personal rate to claimant. However a spouse or partner can seek to have a portion of the payment paid direct to him/her. This usually arises in circumstances where there are domestic difficulties. When an application for a separate payment is  received consideration is also given as to whether it would be more advantageous for the person to claim another payment in his/her own right.
There are various arrangements for making separate payments as follows:
The general position is that the payment of any increase in respect of a qualified adult dependant may be made to the dependant on request. The claimant would continue to receive the appropriate personal rate. Payment of an increase for child dependants is made to the children’s guardian.
Where a qualified adult is living with the claimant, a separate payment can be made to that qualified adult, equalling half the total amount due. That is to say half the personal rate (including over 80 allowance where applicable), half the increase for a qualified adult, and half of any increase payable in respect of any child dependants can be paid to the qualified adult.
The number of recipients of separate payments in 2006 (at 31 October) is 1,445. The numbers of such payments for the previous 5 years are set out in appendix 1.
In addition to paying separate payments in situations of domestic difficulties my Department has arrangements in place to pay the qualified adult allowance directly to the spouse or partner of new applicants to State Pension (Transition), (formerly known as Retirement Pension) and State Pension (Contributory), (formerly known as Old Age (Contributory) Pension). These arrangements apply where the couple apply for separate payments and, there is no need to prove cause for having payments made directly to the qualified adult. Since these arrangements were implemented in 2002, some 1,400 couples have indicated their preference to have the increase for the qualified adult paid directly to the spouse. This represents almost 8% of the relevant pension claims awarded with an increase for a qualified adult since October 2002.
In the case of the State Pension (non-contributory), where the couple are both aged 66 or over, each person is entitled to receive a pension in their own right subject to satisfying a means test.
Dáil Éireann 627 Written Answers. Social Welfare Benefits.