This page provides information about government and charity supports available to support your child and family, and useful information about who can help you understand the supports available.

Financial supports for your child and family

Who can help you understand supports available?

There are a range of government and charitable supports available to support your child and family. The application process for these can be confusing but there are also individuals and organisations available to provide advice and to support you along the way.

Keep reading to learn more about who can help you understand the supports available and how to apply, the range of government supports and benefits available and financial support from Irish charities.

If you need assistance with applying for financial supports you can request a referral from your child’s care team to the Medical Social Worker. In additional to emotional and practical support they can provide guidance on supports available. The MSW can assist you with understanding the supports that may be available and helping with applications.

Family Carers Ireland offer free support by phone, online or in-person appointments to provide information, supports and guidance to anyone caring for a child with medical or additional needs. They provide support at any stage of your child’s medical journey. There is no cost for this service. Contact the freephone number 1800240724 or follow the link to find your local Carer Supports Manager.

The Citizens Information Bureau can provide you with information related to state supports and entitlements and information related to health information and supports including medical cards and GP visit card, drugs and medicine entitlements, long term illness scheme, disability services and entitlements. If you have a question about this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0818 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or visit your local Citizens Information CentreIntreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office.

Some charitable organisations may be able to advise on diagnosis specific supports and entitlements. Search our database to find support organisations.

Members of the groups below have personal experience applying for various benefits and entitlements, current wait times and navigating the appeals processes and provide quick responses to some questions you may have. Please note that answers are based on individual members personal situations and experiences and may not apply to your situation – we recommend you always seek additional advice.

DCA, DA & Carer’s Allowance Information Group
DCA, DA and Carer’s Allowance Information group is a very active parent group with members sharing advice based on their experiences applying for a range of government supports.

DCA Warriors
DCA Warriors have Twitter and Facebook support groups which provide support, information and promote equality and inclusion as well as raising awareness in the community by being a voice for their members.

Government Supports & Entitlements…

You and your family may be entitled to a range of government supports depending on the needs of your child and family. Knowing which supports to apply for and completing the paperwork can be confusing and we recommend you ask for advice to avoid delays, resubmitting applications or appealing decisions.

Important tips

  • The term Disability is also used to describe long term or permanent illness
  • Eligibility for benefits and entitlements may change over time or due to changing circumstances for example: Changes in your employment, new or additional diagnosis or increasing need for supports, changes in family circumstances e.g. single parent, child turns 16.

  • Some benefits and tax credits/expenses can be backdated. This is not always applied automatically and needs to be requested.

  • Entitlement to a benefit may also mean you are eligible for certain other supports e.g. free GP visits, free travel. These additional benefits are not automatic and must be applied for separately.

  • Some government supports and entitlements are available for specific illnesses. The information below is not an exhaustive list and we advise families to get advice.

  • Some benefits and supports are included in calculations for means testing,  or may be taxable benefits. Make sure you understand how receiving a benefit might impact your other benefits or means testing.

Benefits and Entitlements

Domiciliary Care Allowance
Allowance Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability. The child must need ongoing care and attention substantially over and above that usually needed by a child of the same age. It is not means tested. It is also available for babies who remain in an acute hospital after birth for a period of 26 weeks.

For Additional information…
Citizens Information Bureau –  Domiciliary Care Allowance – Domiciliary Care Allowance

Useful Tips…
Payment may continue for up to 6 months if the child is getting medical or other treatment in hospital.

  • DCA is based on your child’s needs and it is important you include information such as doctor’s reports, daily diaries of your child’s care needs and any other information or reports you can include.
  • All children getting DCA are eligible for a medical card without a means test.
  • Payment may continue for up to 26 weeks if the child is getting medical or other treatment in hospital.
  • People getting DCA do not need to fill out the medical form when applying for Carer’s Allowance. You can also claim a Carer’s Support Grant, which is paid automatically each year during the month of June. 

Carer’s Benefit
Carer’s Benefit is a paid to people who leave work or reduce their hours to care for a person in need of full-time care. You must have enough PRSI contributions. You can get Carer’s Benefit for 2 years (104 weeks) for each person that you are caring for.

For Additional information…
Carer’s Benefit ( – Carer’s Benefit

Useful Tips…

  • If you get Carer’s Benefit, you can also get a GP visit card.
  • Backdating?? 6 months? 
  • You may also get a Carer’s Support Grant. It is a payment made once a year to carers. It is paid on the first Thursday in June each year. 
  • You or the person needing care must not be living in a hospital or institution. However, you can continue to be seen as providing full-time care if you or the person being cared for is having medical or other treatment in a hospital or institution for not longer than 13 weeks. 

Carer’s Allowance
Carer’s Allowance is a weekly social welfare payment to people who are caring for a person who needs support because of their age, disability or illness (including mental illness). It is means tested. The person you are caring for must be: 

 – Under 16 AND getting a Domiciliary Care Allowance.
 – Age 16 or over and so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention or 

If you are caring for two or more people, your rate of Carer’s Allowance is increased by 50% (maximum) each week. 

If you are getting another social welfare payment, you may get half-rate Carer’s Allowance. 

For Additional information…
Carer’s Benefit ( – Carer’s Benefit

Useful Tips…

  • If you get Carer’s Allowance you may also get Free Travel.
  • The Carer’s Support Grant is automatically paid to people getting Carer’s Allowance in June each year. You can find out more about the Carer’s Support Grant.
  • People parenting alone, who meet the qualifying criteria for Carer’s Allowance, may qualify for both One-Parent Family Payment and half-rate Carer’s Allowance (CA). 
  • Care Sharing – Two carers who are providing care on a part-time basis in an established pattern can also share a single Carer’s Allowance payment and the annual Carer’s Support Grant 

Half-Rate Carer’s Allowance
If you are getting certain social welfare payments and you are providing full-time care and attention to another person, you can keep your main social welfare payment and get a half-rate Carer’s Allowance as well. 

People parenting alone, who meet the qualifying criteria for Carer’s Allowance, may qualify for both One-Parent Family Payment and half-rate Carer’s Allowance (CA). 

For Additional information…
Citizens Information Bureau – Half-Rate Carers Allowance – Carer’s Allowance Including Half-Rate Allowance

Useful Tips…

  • If you are receiving Half-Rate Carers Allowance, you will also get Carers Support Grant in June of each year.

Carer’s Support Grant
The Carer’s Support Grant is paid to carers once a year by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). You can use the grant in whatever way you like. You can use it to pay for respite care if you wish, but you do not have to. In June of each year (usually on the first Thursday of the month), the DSP pays the grant automatically to carers getting Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, or Domiciliary Care Allowance. Only one Carer’s Support Grant can be paid for each person getting care.

For Additional information…
Citizens Information Bureau – Carer’s Support Grant

Useful Tips…
If you are caring for more than one person, a grant is paid for each of them.

Additional Needs Payment
The Additional Needs Payment is a payment to help you with an expense that you cannot pay from your weekly income. You may get an Additional Needs Payment, if you are working and on a low income, or getting a social welfare payment. This payment can help with expenses such as travel and staying with your child in hospital, increased fuel or electricity costs and a range of other expenses. Your income must be below the weekly household income limit. In some cases, you may be approved for a payment if your income is above the weekly household income limit, but it will depend on your circumstances.

For Additional information…
Citizens Information Bureau – Additional Needs Payment


Supplementary Welfare Allowance
Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people who do not have enough income to meet their needs or the needs of their family. It is means tested.

For additional information…
Citizens Information Bureau – Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Free Travel Scheme
You may be eligible for The Free Travel Scheme if you are receiving Carers Allowance. The Free Travel Scheme allows you to travel, free of charge, on public transport and some private bus and ferry services.

For more information…
Citizens Information Bureau – Free travel Scheme

Tax Credits and Claiming Expenses

Before You Start – Important terms!!

What is a tax credit? Tax credits reduce the amount of Income Tax that you pay. The tax credits you are granted depend on your personal and family circumstances. Some tax credits are granted automatically and there are others which you must claim.

What is tax relief? Tax reliefs can directly reduce the income on which you pay Income Tax. Revenue will deduct the amount of the relief from your income before your tax is calculated. Tax reliefs can include medical expenses etc

Incapacitated Child Tax Credit
You can claim a tax credit if you are the parent or guardian of a child who is permanently incapacitated, either physically or mentally. You can claim a credit for more than one child if more than one child is permanently incapacitated. Child must be: -Be under 18 years of age and permanently incapacitated -Be over 18 years of age, have become permanently incapacitated before 21 years of age and be unable to support themselves -Have become permanently incapacitated aged 21 years or over while they were either in full-time education or in full-time training for a trade or profession and the training is expected to be at least 2 years

You will need a Form ICC2 certified by the child’s doctor or consultant The tax credit can be claimed by employees paying PAYE as well as by self-employed people.

For more information…
Incapacitated Child Tax Credit (

Home Carer Tax Credit
If you are married or in a civil partnership and you care for a dependent person, you can apply for the Home Carer Tax Credit. You must be jointly assessed for tax as a couple. When you get a tax credit, it reduces the tax you pay by the amount of the credit.

For more information…
Home Carer Tax Credit (
Home Carer Tax Credit (

Single Person Child Carer Credit (SPCCC)
If you are working and care for a child on your own, you may be able to claim a tax credit called the Single Person Child Carer Credit (SPCCC). Tax credits reduce the amount of tax that you have to pay. The SPCCC is given to the person who lives with the child for the whole or greater part of the year (more than 6 months) – called the primary claimant.

For more information…
Single Person Child Carer Credit (

Tax Relief On Medical Expenses
You can claim tax relief on medical expenses you pay for yourself or for any other person. You can claim tax back only if you cannot recover the expenses from any other source. You cannot claim tax back for amounts already received or due to be received from HSE, insurance etc. A wide range of medical expenses, private treatments and assessments are eligible. These are constantly being updated and added to. A range of additional costs are also eligible for tax relief if prescribed by a doctor – see link for details. Tax relief on medical expenses (

For more information…
Additional health care expenses for a child (

You can claim tax relief on the cost of medical treatment you get outside Ireland (treatment abroad). If the treatment abroad is available in Ireland you cannot claim travelling expenses for this care.

If the qualifying health care is only available outside Ireland, you can also claim reasonable travel and accommodation expenses. If the patient is a child, the expenses of one parent are usually allowed and, exceptionally, of both parents where it is clear that both need to be with the child.

Tax relief on medical expenses (

Tax Relief on the Costs of

Employing a

Home Carer You can claim tax relief on the cost of employing a carer if you employ one for yourself or for another family member. Tax relief on employing a home carer ( You cannot claim tax relief for employing a carer if a Dependent Relative Tax Credit or an Incapacitated Child Tax Credit has already been granted.

Tax relief on employing a home carer (

In the case of children receiving treatment for cancer (that is, child oncology patients) and children with permanent disabilities, you can claim tax relief on the following as health expenses.

Tax relief on medical expenses (

Vat Refund on Aids, Appliances and Housing Adaptions

You can claim a refund on VAT paid for certain aids, appliances and housing adaptations needed for your child, for example, a communication aid designed for a child unable to speak or a special support chair. The relief is not allowed on services or when renting aids.

Health Schemes

Health schemes are available from the HSE to support with the costs of medical care. Some are means/income tested and
some are illness specific.

Medical Card
If you have a medical card issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE), you can get certain health services free of charge. Normally, your dependent spouse or partner and your children are also covered for the same range of health services.

To qualify for a medical card, your weekly income must be below a certain figure for your family size. Cash income, savings, investments and property (except for your own home) are taken into account in the means test.

For Additional information…
Medical cards –
Citizens Information Bureau Medical Card

Useful Tips…
If you do not qualify for a medical card on income grounds, you may qualify for a GP visit card

Discretionary Medical Card
You may not qualify for a medical card for your child based on the means test. But if they have medical expenses, they may qualify for a discretionary medical card especially if they are receiving DCA or DA.

A discretionary medical card gives you the same services as a means-tested medical card

For more information…
Discretionary medical cards –


Prescription Charge Limit – Medical Card Holders
If you have a medical card, there is a charge for prescribed medicines and other items that you get on prescription from pharmacies.

The prescription charge is €1.50 for each item that is dispensed to you under the medical card scheme, up to a maximum of €15 per month per person or family.

You can set your family up as a family group on the HSE website and print off a family certificate to give to your pharmacist. This will show all of the members of your family so that the pharmacy will not collect charges above the monthly limit.

For more information…
Prescription charges for medical card holders –

Useful information…
People who qualify for the Long Term Illness Scheme are entitled to get the drugs and medicines for the treatment of that illness free of charge.

GP Visit Card
If you are not eligible for a medical card you may be eligible for a GP visit card. A GP visit card allows you to visit a participating family doctor (GP) for free.

The GP visit card does not cover hospital charges. Prescribed drugs are not free but may be covered by the Drugs Payment Scheme. The GP visit card does cover visits to GP out of hours services. Blood tests to diagnose or monitor a condition are covered.

For more information…
GP visit cards –
GP visit cards (

Useful information…
If you get Carer’s Benefit or Carer’s Allowance, at full or half-rate, you are eligible for a GP visit card.

Drugs Payment Scheme
Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, you and your family only have to pay a maximum of €80 each month for approved prescribed drugs and medicines, and certain appliances.

For additional information…
Drugs Payment Scheme (
Drugs Payment Scheme –

Long Term Illness Scheme
If your child has specific illnesses or conditions as listed on the HSE Long-Term Illness Scheme, your child may be allowed to obtain treatment, medicines, and equipment directly related to their illness free of charge. The HSE website below lists the eligible medical conditions and approved medicines and appliances.

For more information…
About the Long-Term Illness Scheme –

Useful tips…
Children can have both the Long-Term Illness Card and their Medical Card. Both schemes are separate, and neither is means-tested once your child has their Domiciliary Care Allowance or Disability Allowance. The main benefit of having the Long-Term Illness Card is that you do not have to pay any prescription fees, even the €1.50 per prescription when you have a Medical Card.

Free Nappy Scheme – Children over age of 3

The free nappy scheme is available to children over the age of three years who have not been toilet trained because of a disability. Each child is allocated an average of three nappies per day depending on their needs, which are distributed to parents by local health nurses.

For more information…
You should contact your local Health Centre or your Public Health Nurse and be persistent as the scheme does exist but few know about it.

European Health Insurance Card
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) lets you get healthcare when abroad for free, or at a reduced cost. You can use the card in any European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland. It covers you if you’re on holiday, or on a short-term stay of no more than 3 months.
Each family member needs their own EHIC. The card is free and there’s no charge to apply.

For more information…
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) –
The European Health Insurance Card (

Useful information…
The European Health Insurance Card does not entitle you to travel abroad with the aim of getting public healthcare. It covers unplanned healthcare for Irish residents who become sick or injured while travelling in another country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

Treatment Abroad Scheme
The Treatment abroad scheme (TAS) covers the cost of planned treatment in another country in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), United Kingdom or Switzerland. If the patient is under 18 or needs assistance when travelling for medical reasons, we will consider providing travel expenses if we approve their application. The treatment must be within Irish law and either:

  • not available in Ireland, or
  • not available in the time normally necessary to get it in Ireland – taking into account your health and the likely course of your condition or disease

For more information
Treatment abroad scheme –
Treatment Abroad Scheme (

Useful information…
Follow this link to help you understand the difference between the Treatment Abroad Scheme and the Cross Border Healthcare Directive.

Cross Border Healthcare Directive
If you are entitled to public health services in Ireland, you may choose to access those services in another member state of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), which also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and be repaid the cost if you meet the requirements. This is provided for by the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive. You will be repaid the cost of the public healthcare treatment in Ireland, or the cost of your treatment abroad, if that is less. It does not include other costs such as travel.

For more information…
Cross Border Directive – Types of healthcare available –
Cross-Border Healthcare Directive (

Useful information…
In general, the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive only covers treatments that are available in Ireland while the Treatment Abroad Scheme covers treatments that are not available in Ireland. It is important to make sure you apply under the correct scheme. For information to help you understand the differences between the health schemes follow this link

Housing, Transport, Aids and Equipment

Housing Adaptions and Aids

Housing Adaption Grant For People With A Disability
The grant can help you to make changes and adaptations to your home, for example, making it wheelchair-accessible, extending it to create more space, adding a ground-floor bathroom or toilet or a stairlift. The scheme is administered by local authorities. The maximum grant under the scheme is €30,000, which may cover up to 95% of the approved cost of works.

For more information…
Housing Adaptation Grants for people with a disability –
Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability (

Useful information…

Mobility Aids Grant Scheme
The Mobility Aids Grant Scheme helps you pay for basic work to address mobility issues for a person with a disability at home. For example,  difficulty getting into the bath or shower, the grant could cover the cost of installing an accessible shower. The effective maximum grant under the Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme is €6,000, which may cover 100% of the cost of works. The scheme is administered by local authorities.

Useful information…

Aids, Appliances and Assistive Technology
The HSE provides a range of aids, appliances and assistive technology for people who have a clinical requirement for devices which can support them in their daily living. These items must be prescribed by the relevant professional but it can be useful to understand the aids and appliances that are covered under this scheme. Prescribed aids and appliances are usually free to medical card holders – confirm

Categories of aids and appliances include: moving and handling, augmentative and assistive communication technology, standing and walking aids, aids for daily living, bed and mattress aids/appliances, therapeutic aids, wheeled mobility aids.

Health professionals who can prescribe include: physiotherapists, occupational therapists, public health nurses, speech and language therapists, clinical engineers with the appropriate skills and competencies. If you are not sure who to contact regarding your child’s needs for aids and appliances you should contact your Local Health Office.

For more information…
Aids and appliances –
This is an information page for medical professionals but it can be useful to understand the aids and appliances available to be prescribed under this scheme.

Vat Relief On Aids, Appliances and Housing Adaptions
You may reclaim Value-Added Tax (VAT) on certain aids, appliances and housing adaptations for use by persons with disabilities. The relief applies to VAT on the purchase of aids and appliances designed to assist persons with disabilities.

Examples of eligible goods are:

  • necessary domestic aids (for example, drinking and eating aids designed solely for persons with disabilities)
  • walk-in baths designed for persons with disabilities
  • commode chairs and similar aids
  • lifting seats and specified chairs designed for persons with disabilities
  • hoists and lifters designed for invalids, including stairlifts
  • communication aids designed for those unable to speak
  • stairlifts.
  • level access bathroom.

For more information…
Apply for refund of Value-Added Tax (VAT) on aids and appliances for persons with disabilities (
VAT refunds on aids and appliances used by people with disabilities (

Vehicle Adaption and Transport Entitlements

Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme
The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme provides a range of tax reliefs linked to the purchase and use of specially constructed or adapted vehicles by drivers and passengers with a disability.

Under the scheme, you can claim:

  • Remission or repayment of vehicle registration tax (VRT)
  • Repayment of value-added tax (VAT) on the purchase of a vehicle
  • Repayment of VAT on the cost of adapting a vehicle
  • Exemption from payment of motor tax.

For more information…
Scheme for persons with disabilities (
Tax relief for drivers and passengers with disabilities (

You can also contact the Irish Wheelchair Association or Disabled Drivers Association for support and advice.

Useful information…
If you qualify for the scheme, you may get some additional exemptions and benefits including:

Disabled Person’s Parking Permit
You can apply for a parking permit to allow you to park in disabled parking spaces in Ireland and the EU if you are a person with severe restricted mobility or are certified as blind or are the driver of the vehicle. It is valid for 2 years from the issue date.

In Ireland the Parking Permit enables the permit holder to park the vehicle in designated on-street accessible parking bay free of charge for an unlimited duration unless otherwise stated.

For more information…
Disabled Person’s Parking Card (
EU Parking Card – Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (

You can also contact the Irish Wheelchair Association or Disabled Drivers Association for support and advice.

Guides to government supports for your child and family

Family Carers Ireland and Citizens Information Bureau have created useful booklets with information on the range of benefits, entitlements and supports available and important information about how to apply.

You can also contact both of these organisations service for advice and support.

Note: Some of these booklets contain information related to caring for a child or for an adult.

Financial Supports – Charitable organisations…

See information below on Irish charities providing financial supports for families. Each organisation has it’s own eligibility criteria and referral process.

Illness/disability specific financial supports

Some illness/disability specific support organisations provide families with financial support to assist with the costs of their child
requiring medical care or being in hospital

Search our database to find support organisations.