Rent Supplement appeal for dual-citizen disabled person

Discussion in 'Redundancy, unemployment & jobseekers entitlements' started by rphair, Aug 28, 2016.

  1. rphair

    rphair Registered User

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
    I am not allowed to post links yet, so have attempted to enclose references as footnotes... please see bottom of posting.

    I have a friend who has been on Invalidity Pension (link 1) on the basis of a confirmed cardiovascular condition. Due to being over 66 years old, this amount is identical to a State Pension (link 2) at the full rate (€233.30 per week).

    As a dual citizen (USA-Irish) she also has a Social Security benefit of €331.86 per week. To avoid having to move from an apartment conducive to her frail condition, she has been using the Social Security income to supplement her ability to pay the rent, held against market increases for some years at €1200 per month.

    The landlord recently insisted that the rent had to be raised to €1350 per month: an amount that would probably be justified in a PRTB rent review. Since her pension had been perfectly balanced with her rent plus living expenses, she can no longer afford the premises that were determined suitable for her disability (N.B. this is a typical apartment without any customised facilities).

    She filed for Rent Supplement, but was denied based on their assessment that the entire USA Social Security payment was considered "Reckonable Income" and therefore she should be paying the rent from that. With an added €30 personal weekly contribution (assumed to come from the IE State Pension), this is €1570 per month which makes her ineligible for any rent entitlement.

    I am trying to find grounds for an appeal, based on these Cases where rent is over the relevant limit (link 3) (beyond the amount for which Rent Supplement is assured):
    • "If you or a member of your household has special housing needs (for example, a disabled person in specially adapted accommodation)."
    • "If you have additional income to pay the balance yourself. (Rent Supplement is still based on the maximum rent limit.)"
    In fact she has been disqualified since, unlike a Maintenance payment (see Calculating Rent Supplement > Additional Income disregard) (link 4) which is considered only partially reckonable for Rent Supplement purposes (less a €95.23 assumed weekly rent contribution), the entire USA social security has been "lumped" together with the State Pension as if it were intended for the same purpose.

    Yet, if I have understood the rules & their assessment correctly, she is in fact expected to pay the rent from her USA Social Security, just like Maintenance, while no Irish person is expected to pay more than €30 of the rent from their State Pension. Therefore she has grounds for an appeal on the basis that the USA Social Security should be treated as Maintenance.

    Applying the rules in their document as such (considering only €75 + 25% of the remainder, once €95.23 is deducted, as "Additional Income"), her weekly rent contribution drops from €331.86 to €246.45 and she becomes eligible for Rent Supplement on any monthly rent over €1045, since she has "agreed to pay the balance herself" on the housing appropriate to her disability.

    Please, if anyone has any experience in these matters, we would welcome:
    1. confirmation that she might proceed with an appeal on this basis, or
    2. reasons why it wouldn't work, so she can find another approach soon while things are still uncertain with her landlord (e.g., she is trying to verify her position on the Social Housing waiting list).
    links (1st on search for following terms):
    1. citizens information invalidity pension
    2. citizens information state pension
    3. citizens information rent supplement → click into section: Rates
    4. citizens information calculating rent supplement steps → click into section: Step 3
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  2. ppmeath

    ppmeath Frequent Poster

    Are you sure that this is correct? You seem to be adding the 1,350 rent and another 120 a month on top of this? I don't think this is how the scheme operates.

    According to the rules:

    "The rent paid to your landlord (that is, your contribution plus your Rent Supplement) should not be above the maximum rent limit set for your county or area (this provision can be waived in some circumstances). The maximum rent limit for your county is set by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). However, the Community Welfare Office may set lower rates within these limits. There is a maximum rent limit for each area (see below). If your actual rent is higher than the local maximum, you may be refused Rent Supplement entirely."

    The maximum rent limit for a single person in Dublin is €660 per month, this means that the amount of the rent supplement awardsed and the 30 euro per week, when added together can not exceed that limit.

    Does your friend live alone because she may have been refused because 1,350 per month for a single person is twice the limit.


    "Invalidity Pension is a weekly payment to people who cannot work because of a long-term illness or disability and are covered by social insurance (PRSI). At 66, you transfer automatically to the State Pension (Contributory) at the full rate. Invalidity Pension is taxable. You are entitled to a Free Travel Pass. You may also get extra social welfare benefits, for example, the Household Benefits Package."

    Is your friend aware of this?

    It seems to be a very difficult situation. Has she visited the council or paid a visit to her community welfare officer?

    Your friend may be better off using this reason for an appeal:

    "If there are other exceptional circumstances. (Special provisions apply if you are at risk of becoming homeless.) Note also that the Community Welfare Service has statutory discretionary power to award or increase a Rent Supplement payment, for example, when dealing with a person who is in danger of homelessness. "

    It may not be a bad idea to visit the local authority in person and check out this site for further assistance:

    It could be that they are not fully aware of her difficulties and they may make an exception in relation to the rent limit, but they may also have a suitable property for your friend.
  3. rphair

    rphair Registered User

    The amount of €1570 per month came from the Rents Section itself: listed on a balance sheet as the amount of rent they would expect her to pay before they would consider any entitlement. This is equal to her basic SWA (her invalidity pension less the over-65 amount) plus her USA Social security plus €30 per week. In other words, they treated the USA Social Security entirely as disposable income.

    There are a number of reasons why Rent Supplement may not be likely at this point, but I only found out as I was writing the text above that there are Social Workers in the Dublin City Civic Offices who could answer all of these questions. I will be taking her to one of these appointments next week and I am sure she will find a more appropriate option then.

    I believe some kind of sponsored housing would be more sustainable than fighting for the Rent Supplement as a means of offsetting a a rising commercial rent, even if she could appeal the decision. Thanks especially for the "Housing for older people" link because it helps answer her concerns about mobility provisions and security. I have insisted that she verify her place on the waiting list for Social Housing, and the Social Worker should be able to take it from here.
  4. ppmeath

    ppmeath Frequent Poster

    That is pretty harsh, considering your friends situation.

    I think that would be the best option.

    You're welcome, I do hope that your friends situation will be resolved. Maybe you would consider updating the thread if you can add any more information for others who may find themselves in the same situation.
  5. rphair

    rphair Registered User

    will do, some time next month for sure, regarding both the feasibility of her appeal and the other options that are offered.
    ppmeath likes this.
  6. rphair

    rphair Registered User

    Epilogue: the one piece of generally useful information that emerged from my friend's case...

    Anyone who has a place on the Social Housing List is eligible for consultation on demand with a designated Social Worker who will keep your individual information on file. This agent will even communicate by email. Even prior to the granting of a space on the list, Social Work Services will take drop-in visits to give advice about eligibility & applications for the waiting list (search for "citizens information applying for local authority social housing").

    This would include any questions about the feasibility of an appeal as above, for instance. My friend didn't know she had been eligible for this consultation all along, and it would have saved her many questions over the years about the Rent Supplement that were never answered by the demanding, impersonal bureaucracy of the Social Welfare department itself.

    The council Social Workers are part of a different organisation, dependent on geographical area (e.g., search for "social work services from Dublin City Council"). The one we met at Dublin City civic offices was well capable and interested to pursue my friend's case, pending a verified position on the Social Housing List.