News Q&A: Do your sums: farm assist means test is complex

The Citizens Information Board has posted the following Know Your Rights information on the means test for the farm assist scheme operated by the Department of Social Protection, which provides support for farmers on low incomes, and is similar to jobseeker’s allowance.

How is my income from different sources assessed for Farm Assist? I work on the farm but I also do a bit of contracting and my wife works part-time.

The means test for Farm Assist takes into account virtually every form of income you may have, but assesses it in different ways.

Your income from farming and any other self-employment (like contracting) is assessed as the gross income that you or your spouse may be expected to receive, minus any expenses you incur to earn that income.

When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare inspector will call to see you and ask to see various documents.

The inspector will then assess the costs incurred in connection with the running of the farm.

You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation.

All of your means from self-employment are assessed (there are no disregards for dependent children).

Payments under the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), the Agri- Environmental Options Scheme (AEOS) or the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) scheme are assessed separately from other farm income.

The first €2,540 per year is deducted from the total amount of all these payments, and 50% of the remainder is disregarded.

Expenses incurred in complying with REPS/AEOS/SAC measures are then deducted, and the balance is assessed as means.

Income from an occupational pension or leasing of land or milk quotas is assessed in full.

Capital (including any property that you do not live in) is assessed using the formula applied to all means-tested social welfare payments.

If you have an off-farm job, €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings, and then 60% of the remainder is assessed as weekly means.

Your spouse’s income from employment is assessed in the same way.

If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.

You can get detailed information on how farm income is assessed from the Department of Social Protection’s website.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.


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