One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is a payment for men and women under 66 who are bringing children up without the support of a partner. To get this payment you must meet certain conditions and you must satisfy a means test.
One-Parent Family Payment is a taxable source of income.
A Back to Work Family Dividend is available for lone parents and long-term jobseeker families with children who find or return to work.
Maintenance payments and COVID-19
If the other parent of your child has stopped or reduced their maintenance payment, you may get an increase in your One-Parent Family Payment.
To get an increase, you should contact your local Inteo Centre. You will need to write a letter stating either the reduced amount or that you are no longer getting a maintenance payment and provide it to your local Intreo Centre.
Your One Parent Family payment will be increased for a period of up to 12 weeks. After that period, your payment may be reviewed and your means reassessed.
To qualify for a One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) you must:
- Be under 66 (at 66 you become eligible for a State pension)
- Be the parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of a relevant child (this means a child under the relevant age limit – see below)
- Be the main carer of at least one relevant child. The child must live with you. OFP is not payable if the parents have joint equal custody of a child or children.
- Have gross earnings from insurable employment or self-employment of €425 or less per week
- Satisfy a means test
- Be habitually resident (certain people, in particular EU nationals who are considered migrant workers, are exempt from the habitual residence condition)
- Not be living with a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting
If you are separated, divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved you must:
- Have been living apart from your spouse or civil partner for at least 3 months. This does not apply to cohabitants.
- Have made efforts to get maintenance from your spouse or civil partner (if your civil partner is the parent of the child/ren)
- Be inadequately maintained by your spouse or civil partner (if your civil partner is the parent of the child/ren)
If your spouse or civil partner is in prison:
- He/she must have been sentenced to at least 6 months in prison or have spent at least 6 months in custody.
If you were not married to the parent of your child/children you do not need to seek maintenance from the other parent when you first claim OFP. However, you must make efforts to seek maintenance from the other parent to continue to be eligible for OFP.
Income from maintenance
All income from maintenance is assessed as means. This includes maintenance for you and maintenance to you for any of your children. If you are getting maintenance from more than one person, all the payments are added together and the total is assessed as means. However, only half of your income from maintenance will be deducted from your OFP. If you have housing costs, your rent or mortgage repayment up to a maximum of €95.23 per week can be offset against maintenance payments. Half the balance is then assessed as means. You must provide proof of rent or mortgage payments. You can get more information on how maintenance is assessed as means.
Liability to maintain family
Men and women are required, under the law, to pay maintenance to a dependent spouse, civil partner or former cohabitant and any dependent children who are not living with them. These people are called ‘liable relatives’. If you are a liable relative and fail to pay enough maintenance to your ex-spouse, ex-civil partner or former cohabitant and dependent child(ren), you must contribute to the cost of the One-Parent Family Payment, which is paid to your family.
The Maintenance Recovery Unit of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will contact the liable relative if they have not paid enough maintenance. You can contact the Maintenance Recovery Unit on (071) 967 2599 for more information. You can also find out more about ‘Liability to Maintain Family’.
One-Parent Family Payment and EU Regulations
EU citizens, EEA citizens and Swiss nationals who are employed or self-employed in Ireland and who are paying into the Irish social insurance system do not have to meet the habitual residence criteria to qualify for One-Parent Family Payment.
One-Parent Family Payment and Deserted Wife’s Benefit
If you had to transfer from Deserted Wife’s Benefit to One-Parent Family Payment to be accepted as a participant on a Community Employment Scheme, you can apply to have your entitlement to Deserted Wife’s Benefit restored. While Deserted Wife’s Benefit is closed to new applicants, it is still paid to those who had qualified for it before 2 January 1997.
The maximum weekly rate of payment for Deserted Wife’s Benefit is higher than the maximum weekly rate of payment for One-Parent Family Payment. If you qualify to have your entitlement to Deserted Wife’s Benefit restored, you may also be due arrears.
Age limit for a relevant child
To get a One-Parent Family Payment you must have at least one relevant child below 7 years of age.
Exceptions to the age limits
Domiciliary Care Allowance
If you are getting Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) for a child, you qualify for OFP on behalf of that child if you meet the other conditions. This means that you can apply for or continue to claim OFP until the child reaches 16 or DCA stops. You will also get an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) for any other children in the family until they reach 18 (or 22 if in full-time education) while DCA (and OFP) is in payment.
If you are currently getting OFP and are providing full-time care and attention for one of your children or for an adult (such as a parent or a sibling), you can keep your OFP and also claim half-rate Carer’s Allowance, provided that your youngest child is aged under 16 years.
This means that you can claim both OFP and a half-rate Carer’s Allowance (CA) until your youngest child turns 16, for as long as you continue to meet the conditions for both schemes. You will also get an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) for any other children in the family until they reach 18 (or 22 if in full-time education) while CA and OFP are in payment.
Death of a spouse, partner or civil partner
If you are a new claimant and you are parenting alone because of the death of your spouse, partner or civil partner you may get OFP for 2 years from the date of death provided your youngest child is under 18. You cannot be paid OFP after your youngest child reaches 18 even if that is less than 2 years after the date of death.
Blind Pension is payable with OFP. This means that a person who qualifies for OFP and Blind Pension can get both payments at the full rate. People who qualify for Blind Pension will be exempted from the age conditions for OFP. This means that you can claim both Blind Pension and OFP (and any IQCs payable with both Blind Pension and OFP) together until your youngest child is 16 years of age.
What happens when my One Parent Family payment ends?
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will inform you of the date of termination of your payment and will outline options under other schemes and supports which may be available to you. The document Transition from One-Parent Family Payment also outlines your options. You may qualify for the Jobseeker’s Transitional payment. This is a payment for people parenting alone whose children are aged between 7 and 13 (inclusive).
In all cases you can get more information and advice about your options from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office or Citizens Information Centre.
One-Parent Family Payment and work
You can work and get One-Parent Family Payment. The amount of payment you get depends on your weekly means.
- The first €165 of your gross weekly earnings (including wages and profit from self-employment) is not taken into account (or disregarded). This means that you can earn up to €165 per week and qualify for the full One-Parent Family Payment.
- Half the remainder of your gross earnings up to €425 per week is assessed as means. If you earn between €165 and €425 per week you may qualify for a reduced payment. SW 19 Social Welfare Rates of Payment booklet (pdf) shows the amount of OPF payable with your means.
Social insurance contributions, superannuation/PRSA contributions and trade union subscriptions are not taken into account in the assessment of earnings. However, your gross earnings must be below €425 before any deductions are allowed.
You may qualify for Working Family Payment (WFP), if you are working for at least 19 hours a week (38 hours a fortnight). You can continue to claim One-Parent Family Payment and your rate of WFP is not counted as means. Find out more about Working Family Payment.
If you want to become self-employed, you may qualify for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance.
New participants on CE schemes cannot get OFP at the same time. However, if you take part in a CE scheme and return immediately to OFP from the CE scheme your entitlement is based on your original start date.
If your pay from work is reduced
You may be entitled to an increase in your One-Parent Family Payment if your pay is reduced. To get an increase in your One-Parent Family Payment send a current payslip (showing your reduced pay) with a letter from your employer, confirming your new work situation, to the Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office dealing with your claim.
If your pay is reduced and you are getting Working Family Payment (WFP), your WFP rate will stay the same. If the number of hours you work each week is reduced to below 19 hours (38 hours per fortnight), you are no longer entitled to WFP. You should notify the WFP section if the hours you work fall below the minimum requirement.
You may be entitled to an increase in your Rent Supplement. If you are on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), you should contact your local authority to find out if you are entitled to a reduction in your weekly HAP rent contribution. If you rent from a local authority or housing association you should contact them to find out if you are entitled to a reduction in your rent. If you are not getting a medical card or GP visit card, you should find out if you now qualify.
If you were receiving Maternity Benefit immediately before getting OFP you will get credited contributions. You can read more about credited contributions in the Operational Guidelines for OFP.
One Parent Family Payment and education or training
You will need to assess whether it is more beneficial for you to transfer from the One-Parent Family Payment to the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) when you go back to education or to remain on your current payment and apply for a student grant.
You cannot get BTEA and a student grant together. Read more in our document on social welfare payments and student grants.
You can participate in a training course and keep your One-Parent Family Payment.
You can find out if any childcare supports are available to you while studying, training or working.
|One-Parent Family Payment|
Maximum personal weekly rate
|Child dependant from 9 January 2020|
|Child aged under 12 years|
Child aged 12 years and over
If you are entitled to a One-Parent Family Payment, payment of an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) will continue for other children in the family until they reach 18 (or 22 if in full-time education).
How to apply
To apply fill in a One-Parent Family Payment application form (pdf). Send it with the relevant supporting documents to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection – see ‘Where to apply’ below.
If you are widowed or a surviving civil partner, you should apply within 3 months of your spouse’s or civil partner’s death.
If you are single, you should apply within 3 months of the birth of your child.
If you are separated, divorced or no longer in a civil partnership, you must have been living apart for 3 months and you should apply within 3 to 6 months of the date you separated from your spouse or civil partner.
If you are a prisoner’s spouse or civil partner, you should apply when your spouse or civil partner:
- Has been in custody for at least 6 months without being sentenced or
- Starts their sentence, which must be for at least 6 months.
Staff in your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office will be happy to help you complete the application form and answer any questions you may have.
You can have your payment paid directly into your nominated post office by Electronic Information Transfer (EIT) or into your bank account. You will need to use your Public Services Card (PSC) at the post office to collect your payment. If you do not have a PSC, you will need your Social Services Card and another form of photographic ID to collect your payment.
If you get a One-Parent Family Payment you can use the Household Budget Scheme to help you manage your bills. You may also be eligible for other benefits such as Fuel Allowance, Working Family Payment, Rent Supplement or a medical card.
If you think you have been wrongly refused a One-Parent Family Payment, or you are unhappy about a decision of a social welfare Deciding Officer about your entitlements, you can appeal this decision.
Where to apply
Send your application for One-Parent Family Payment to your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office.
If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre, Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
The organisations listed below provide support and information to people parenting alone: