People living in Ireland may not be aware that a supplementary social allowance scheme exists to help eligible applicants meet exceptional expenses.
Under this program are “exceptional needs payments” and “urgent needs payments”, with strict rules applying to both.
Exceptional Needs Payments are awarded to people who have basic, one-time, and “exceptional” needs that they cannot meet with their weekly income.
This one-time payment may be for bedding or kitchen utensils for a first-time settler, visiting relatives in hospital or prison, funeral expenses, or clothing in exceptional circumstances.
In some cases, beneficiaries can get help with fuel bills such as heat and electricity, according to Citizens Information.
Whether or not a person was eligible was previously decided by HSE social protection officers, but it is now up to the Ministry of Social Protection to assess the merits of each case.
The rules of the Exceptional Needs Payment Scheme state that an applicant must live in the state and must meet a means test.
The Department will examine all sources of income, including capital and property, but excluding your home.
The amount of payment made will depend on a means test and the type of assistance the applicant requires.
People who are not normally entitled to payment are those who have access to alternative resources, including money, to meet expenses.
If the person has a full-time job, which includes 30 or more hours per week, is in full-time education, or is involved in a trade dispute or on strike, they are unlikely to qualify.
As for payments for urgent needs, they are only allocated in urgent cases.
For example, in the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster, someone might get payment to help with the immediate cost of food and clothing.
Depending on individual circumstances, if they are working or when an insurance claim has been settled, they may have to repay some or all of that amount at a later date.
As with exceptional needs payments, the amount of payment a person receives will depend on the type of assistance they require.
If the potential applicant is means tested for urgent needs payment, all capital and assets except their home are considered and valued.
Unlike other social protection schemes, beneficiaries do not have to fulfill the condition of habitual residence in order to claim an emergency needs allowance.
This means that they do not have to show a strong connection to Ireland or that they have lived or intend to live in Ireland for many years.