Question No: 68 Ref No: 25385/15
To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the reason means are assessed against a separated or divorced person who receives a financial settlement in respect of their share in the family home while the former spouse/partner remaining in the family home has no such assessment made against them, a policy which ultimately leads to homelessness in the case of the former; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Bernard J. Durkan.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 24th June, 2015.
R E P L Y
Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D.):
The Department operates a range of statutory means tested schemes. The means test takes account of the income a person or couple has in terms of cash, property (other than the home) and capital, in order to ensure that social welfare payments are paid to those most in need.
For the purposes of most social assistance schemes, the first €20,000 of capital is disregarded for means test purposes and the balance is assessed by reference to a formula. In the case of disability allowance, the first €50,000 is disregarded, while in the case of supplementary welfare allowance, the first €5,000 is disregarded.
The Department has no role in financial and other settlements made between couples on separation, divorce or otherwise. Any capital owned by a person involved in such a settlement is assessed in the normal way for the purposes of means tested schemes and the appropriate disregards apply.