A Dublin woman who cares full-time for her three intellectually disabled brothers has been refused a carer's allowance by the HSE.
Aideen Pollard McManus fears she won't be able to afford heating and house insurance bills this winter.
Aideen and her husband David gave up their lives in February when Aideen's mum developed Alzheimer's and had to be put in care -- and Aideen had to look after her three brothers who have special needs.
Jack (64), Michael (63), and Barra (52) are all believed to be intellectually disabled due to the Fragile X syndrome, and cannot care for themselves.
Aideen said: "My 86-year-old mum was their main carer but she developed Alzheimer's and she had to be put into a nursing home. We hoped to get residential care for my three brothers but I was told that they were on a priority list.
"I applied for carer's allowance in February but I got a letter telling me that I had been refused any benefits, and that my brothers could look after themselves.
"We've no other income. My mam had been getting carer's allowance for them but we were told that we had to make a new application and we were refused.
"We're looking at not turning the heating on, or only turning it on in one room, and the lads will expect things for Christmas."
Aideen says her brothers require full-time supervision and care, since they cannot cook, do household chores, or properly take their medication.
"They need someone there all of the time for them. They need someone to cook their meals, do their laundry, help them wash themselves properly, give them their medications, and they need someone for security at night time.
"Michael used to go to the shops to get groceries but local teenagers were bullying and harassing him and I had to get the guards involved, and I had to stop him going out."
Aideen intends to return to work and David is starting up a photography business, but they have to look after Aideen's brothers in the meantime.
"To get the letter yesterday saying that I wasn't entitled to benefits, it felt like a real slap in the face."
The Department of Social Protection said it could not comment on individual cases.