Your means include any income or property (excluding your home) you may have and any other assets that may provide you with an income.
On completion of form Farm 1, a Social Welfare inspector will visit your home and examine all of your farm income and expenditure documentation.
It is important that you have as much documentation as possible available in order to provide the inspector with adequate information to determine your eligibility.
Failure to provide sufficient information, or withholding information, may give the inspector no choice but to turn down your application or at least postpone a decision until such information as he or she deems necessary is available. Applicants are entitled to receive a copy of the farm income calculation.
CALCULATION OF MEANS
Means can arise from a number of sources and may be treated differently depending on the source.
Income from farming and any other form of self-employment are added together and the costs involved are deducted.
All of the resultant income is assessed as means and disregards for children no longer apply. These means are added to your means from other sources.
Means from REPS/AEOS, SACS and GLÁS is assessed separately from other farm income in that €2,540 is deducted from your annual payment and half of the balance remaining after deduction of expenses incurred is taken as means.
Means from insurable employment, including your spouse or partner, is assessed net of PRSI, superannuation and union dues and net of a disregard of €20 per day up to a maximum of three days.
If you have seasonal work, you are assessed with your earnings only during the period while you were actually working. Means from investments and savings is not assessed on the actual return earned but rather a notional income which is arrived at as follows:
First €20,000 not counted
€20,000 to €30,000 is assessed at €1 per €1,000
€30,000 to €40,000 is assessed at €2 per €1,000
Over €40,000 is assessed at €4 per €1,000.
Means are calculated on assessable income less the relevant disregards, and the balance is then assessed at 60pc of what remains.
RATE OF FARM ASSIST
The rates of Farm Assist are set out on Table A. The amount actually paid is the difference between your assessed means and the maximum rate of payment that you could be entitled to. For example, if your assessed means are €70 per week and you are married with three dependent children, you should receive €332.20, i.e. €188 + €124.80 + €89.40 (€29.80x3) - €70.
It should be noted that if you qualify for a full allowance for your spouse or partner, you will get the full rate child-dependent allowance, otherwise you will get half the child-dependent allowance (€14.90).
Payment can be made directly into a bank or building society account or by collection at the Post Office.
A declaration form, Farm12, will issue to the claimant on an annual basis, requiring them to declare that they have an ongoing entitlement to farm assist. They will be required to declare any change in their family circumstances, inclusive of means, which may affect their entitlement to Farm Assist.
If you are getting Farm Assist, you may also be entitled to fuel allowance (subject to certain conditions).
TAXATION & PRSI
Farm Assist being an assistance based payment is not subject to income tax or the Universal Social Charge. However, by being in receipt of Farm Assist, you are not exempt from paying PRSI on your farm profits.
HOW TO APPLY
You can get a form Farm 1 from your local Social Welfare Office and complete and return the same to that office.
* Read more: IFA call for overhaul of Farm Assist scheme
Martin O'Sullivan is the author of the ACA Farmers Handbook. He is a partner in O'Sullivan Malone and Company, accountants and registered auditors. www.som.ie. Ph: 051 640397