Guide to entitlements for farmers

THE Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 will be brought into effect later this year, and amendments made as it went through the Oireachtas include how the asset value of a farm or business is to be assessed.

Those in a nursing home when the new scheme is brought into effect will not be adversely affected by the changes.

If in a private nursing home, you may opt for the new scheme if it would be to your advantage.

New residents of public and private nursing homes or other long-stay residential facilities will be liable to pay 80% of their assessed means towards the costs of their stay.

Assets, including the family home, farms, businesses and other property will be taken into account in assessing means.

The value of the family home and, in some circumstances, the value of a farm or business, are taken into account for only three years of the care.

The charges arising from the assessment of assets may be deferred until a specified event — such as the sale of the asset, or your death or, in the case of the family home, the deaths of certain other family members.

Different charges will apply to acute care and long-term residential care.

You may have to pay long-term charges while in an acute hospital, but not in need of acute care.

If 80% of your means does not cover the full cost of long-term care, you may apply for State support. The amount you get will depend on your weekly assessed means from income and assets, and the cost of your care.

* assessment issues: In general, farmers are entitled to health services on the same basis as everyone else but, there are issues in relation to the assessment of means.

Applications for medical cards are dealt with centrally by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The means test is broadly similar to that for Farm Assist.

* RSS support: The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) aims to provide income support for farmers and fishermen who are receiving social welfare payments. Those participating in the scheme provide certain services that benefit rural communities.

The scheme is implemented by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, and managed at local level by the local action groups who facilitate the LEADER Programme.

You may be eligible for the scheme if you are receiving Farm Assist or certain other long-term social welfare payments. Work undertaken by scheme participants includes:

* Maintaining and enhancing waymarked ways and agreed walk routes and bog roads.

* Energy conservation work for older people and those at risk of poverty.

* Village and countryside enhancement projects.

* Social care and care of older people, community care for both pre-school and after-school groups.

* Environmental maintenance work — maintenance and care-taking of community and sporting facilities.

* Projects relating to not-for-profit cultural and heritage centres.

* Sustainable Energy Ireland’s Warmer Homes Scheme and other energy conservation schemes.

The scheme is similar to the Community Employment scheme. You are expected to work for 19.5 hours a week for an initial 12-month period. At the end of each year on the scheme, you may re-apply to participate.

If you are eligible for the scheme but don’t wish to participate, your dependent spouse may take the available place but —only if neither of you participates in any similar scheme (for example, Community Employment Scheme).

Currently, there is provision for 2,600 participants and 130 supervisors on the Scheme.

Just over €49 million was spent in the scheme in 2008 and a roughly similar amount is available for 2009.


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