Will my daughter get child benefit on Australia return?
Your questions answered
Q My daughter is due to return from Australia next month along with her husband and two young children - aged two and four. She has worked there for the last five years. Will she qualify for child benefit when returns - or does she face a wait for it? Mary, Co Kerry
Once your daughter and her family are resident in Ireland, she can apply for child benefit (applications are normally submitted in the mother's name). However, she will first have to apply for PPSNs (Personal Public Service Numbers) for the children. Generally, applications for PPSNs cannot be made in advance. However, if the family have firm dates for when they will arrive in Ireland, they can book an appointment in advance at the relevant PPS registration centre by setting up an online account with mywelfare.ie.
To complete the PPS application process, on arrival in Ireland your daughter will have to take the children along to a 'face-to-face' appointment at the PPS registration centre. She will need to ensure that she has proof of address in Ireland, valid photo ID (for her and the children) as well as providing a valid reason for why a PPSN is required (such as a child-benefit application form).
Your daughter and her husband (assuming that he has lived or worked in Ireland previously) may already have PPSNs here. If they have forgotten or mislaid those, they can make enquiries by contacting the Client Identity Services section in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
Once the children's PPSNs have been registered, your daughter can then start completing the application for child benefit. As part of the application process, applicants are required to meet the habitual residence condition, so the child-benefit application will also need to be accompanied by the HRC1 (the form which helps establish whether or not an individual has habitual residency in Ireland).
There are a number of factors that are used to assess if applicants are habitually resident in the State. These include the length and continuity of residence in Ireland, the length and purpose of any absence from Ireland, their nature and pattern of employment, their main centre of interest, and the applicant's future intentions to live in Ireland (as it appears from evidence).
In your daughter and son-in-law's case, as they are returned Irish emigrants resuming a previous residence in the State, they should not have too much difficulty in meeting the habitual-residence condition if they can provide a good paper trail of documentation with their application to show that they have severed their ties in Australia - such as, for example, proof to show they have closed bank accounts in Australia, given up a tenancy or sold a property there.
They must also be able to show their strong ties to or in Ireland (such as, for example, being born in Ireland and having close family connections here) and demonstrate their intention to remain here (such as proof of a job offer in Ireland, registration with an Irish GP, or enrolment of the children in pre-school)
Processing times for child benefit may vary. To speed up the application process on return, applicants should familiarise themselves with the relevant welfare applications, so that they can gather the supporting documentation in advance. All welfare application forms are available from welfare.ie
Applications for child benefit can be made online. To apply online, applicants must have a Public Services Card and a verified MyGovID account.
Housing for emigrants
Q I'm in my late 50s and have been living and working in the US for the last 30 years. I'm Irish and originally from Dublin - but I moved to the US in my 20s. I would like to move back home, so I can retire in Ireland. I've rented in the US all my life - and don't own a property there, or in Ireland. I don't have much savings and can't afford to buy or rent a property in Ireland. Would I qualify for social housing in Ireland and if so, how long would I be waiting on it - and how would I go about applying for it? John, New York
Qualifying older Irish emigrants, can apply for limited social housing options in Ireland while still resident abroad, via a scheme administered by Safe Home Ireland. To apply for housing under this scheme, applicants must be older Irish-born emigrants (aged 57 years plus); living in rented accommodation abroad; capable of independent living; and unable to provide accommodation from their own means (such as income or savings) on return to Ireland.
Safe Home Ireland does not manage or build any properties itself. It processes applications from qualifying Irish emigrants and tries (with assistance from voluntary housing bodies and local authorities) to match them up with Housing Association schemes back in their native areas. While this scheme allows certain Irish emigrants to be considered for Housing Association properties, it does not give them any element of priority over people applying for social housing from within Ireland.
The scheme does not cover other social housing supports, such as council accommodation or help with rent costs in the private sector (such as through the Housing Assistance payment). If you wish to be considered for the broader range of social housing supports, you would have to be living in Dublin first and then apply via the relevant council in order to have your housing needs assessed. If you have the option of coming to stay with family or friends in Dublin, once you are resident here, you could then apply directly to the council (the one that covers the catchment area where are staying or where your strongest local connection lies). The council housing application process can take up to 12 weeks to be assessed.
You will have to provide a range of supporting documentation with your application and an income assessment also forms part of the application criteria.
What I have outlined above are the various avenues to apply for social housing supports in Ireland. Sadly, when it comes to how it all works out in practice, it is not so straightforward.
Once you qualify or are assessed as having a housing need, you enquire as to how long you may be waiting before you are made an offer of accommodation. We really cannot give any timescale as councils throughout the country have their own scheme of letting priorities when it comes to the allocation of social housing units. As a general rule, priority will be given to people or families that are homeless or in crisis and thereafter, a 'time on the list' system applies.
There is a housing crisis in all parts and sectors of Dublin. Certainly for anyone applying for council or Housing Association tenancies, they may well be waiting for years before they are offered a secure tenancy.
If you return to Dublin under your own steam in the future and need help applying for housing or welfare supports, you could contact Safe Home Ireland (safehomeireland.com), Crosscare Migrant Project (migrantproject.ie) or your nearest Citizens Information Centre (citizensinformation.ie).
Karen McHugh is chief executive of Safe Home Ireland (safehomeireland.com); email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sunday Indo Business