Know your rights when it comes to 'Fuel Allowance'

South Munster Citizens’ Information shares some advice on the Fuel Allowance
Know your rights when it comes to 'Fuel Allowance'

Fuel Allowance is a payment to help with the cost of heating your home during winter months.

What is the Fuel Allowance?

A Fuel Allowance is a payment to help with the cost of heating your home during the winter months.

You can get the Fuel Allowance, if you are getting a long-term social welfare payment and you are unable to provide for your heating needs from your own resources. Only one Fuel Allowance is paid to a household.

Fuel Allowance is generally paid with your social welfare payment on the same day. 

You can choose to get Fuel Allowance paid weekly or paid in two lump sums. The lump sum option is not available to people getting payments under the Rural Social Scheme, Tús, Gateway, Community Employment or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

People getting Jobseekers Allowance or Supplementary Welfare Allowance may qualify for Fuel Allowance after 12 months (down from 15 months), if all other qualifying conditions are met (Budget 2022).

How to qualify for Fuel Allowance

To get the Fuel Allowance you must be living alone (or with certain people listed below), living in Ireland and getting one of the following qualifying payments:

Qualifying Social Insurance Payments:

  • State Pension (Contributory)
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension
  • Incapacity Supplement under the Occupational Injuries Benefit scheme
  • Invalidity Pension l Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)
  • Death Benefit under the Occupational Injuries Scheme
  • A pension or benefit from a country covered by EU Regulations or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement (provided there is an equivalent Irish payment)

Qualifying Social Assistance Payments:

  • State Pension (Non-Contributory)
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension
  • Disability Allowance l Blind Pension
  • Deserted Wife’s Benefit or Allowance
  • One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
  • Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)
  • Farm Assist Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance for more than 455 days (over 15 months - it is paid on a 7-day week basis so 15 months’ payment is reached after day 455)
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than 390 days (over 15 months - it is paid on a 6-day week basis so 15 months’ payment is reached after day 390).
  • Jobseeker’s Transitional payment (JST)

If you are taking part in certain schemes - Back to Work Allowance, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA), Rural Social Scheme, Tús or Community Employment and are entitled to keep your secondary benefits

You must live alone or only with:

  • A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and/or dependent children
  • A person who is getting Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit and is caring for you or for your dependent spouse, partner or cohabitant on a full-time basis
  • A person getting short-term Jobseeker’s Allowance or basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance
  • Other people who are getting the qualifying payments and who would also be eligible for a Fuel Allowance in their own right

And

You and other members of your household are unable to provide for your heating needs from your own resources.

Some of the reasons you may not get a Fuel Allowance:

  • You live with someone who is not getting one of the qualifying payments for the Fuel Allowance
  • Your heating needs are met under a deed transferring property
  • You are on a qualifying social insurance payment and have income above the means test limit
  • You are getting one of the following social insurance payments: Jobseeker’s Benefit, Illness Benefit, Enhanced Illness Benefit, Occupational Injuries Benefit, Maternity Benefit or Disablement Benefit. Note that you do not qualify for Fuel Allowance if you are getting any of these payments with a qualifying payment, for example, a half-rate Maternity Benefit with a One-Parent Family Payment.

How your income is assessed for Fuel Allowance

Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment. In a means test, the Department of Social Protection (DSP) examines all your sources of income. Your gross weekly income must be below a certain amount to pass the means test. You are usually accepted as passing the means test for Fuel Allowance, if you are already getting a qualifying social assistance payment.

The amount of means that you are allowed to have for the Fuel Allowance is the current maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) including any increases that you might get for your age, living alone and dependants, plus €120. If you are over 80, add an extra €10 to the appropriate DSP payment rate.

Rate of Fuel Allowance

If you choose to receive the payment on a weekly basis, the Fuel Allowance is paid from the end of September to April each year for 28 weeks at a rate of €33.00 per week. The total Fuel Allowance payment over 28 weeks is €924.

Alternatively you can choose for it to be paid to you in 2 lump sums, in September and January.

To get your Fuel Allowance paid in two lump sums, fill in the Change the Payment Frequency form at least one month before the first lump sum is due.

How to apply for Fuel Allowance

Applying for the first time you need to fill in application form NFS 1 which you can get from your local CIC or have it posted out to you. Be aware that if you apply for the Fuel Allowance after the start of the Fuel Allowance season, it will not be backdated. You do not need to reapply for the Fuel Allowance each year as long as, your circumstances remain the same and you continue to get the same social welfare payment.

The Fuel Allowance will be included in your weekly payment, if you are getting a social welfare payment. If you are not getting a social welfare payment, your Fuel Allowance can be paid directly into your account in a financial institution or you can collect the allowance at your local post office.

If more than one person in a household qualifies

Only one Fuel Allowance payment is paid to a household. If two or more people who would qualify for a Fuel Allowance live together, only one Fuel Allowance is paid to one person in that household.

If everyone in the household is getting a social assistance payment, they can decide who applies for Fuel Allowance. If one household member is on a social insurance payment then they should apply in the first instance.

Where to apply for Fuel Allowance

This depends on what social welfare payment you are getting. You should complete and return the form to the section that pays your main social welfare payment. If unsure, please contact your local CIC for assistance.

For anyone needing information, advice or who have an advocacy issue, they can call a member of the local Citizens Information team in Cork City at 0818 07 6950 (City Centre) or 0818 07 6850 (City North), they will be happy to assist and make an appointment if necessary. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4.30pm. Alternatively, you can email us at cork@citinfo.ie or hollyhill@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie for further information.

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