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Child benefit instalment unpaid for older teenagers due to delay with forms

Several families who expected to be given the payment this week have not received it.

Image: Shutterstock/fizkes

FAMILIES WITH OLDER teenagers did not receive a child benefit payment yesterday due to a problem with forms that confirm eligibility.

The government must “urgently” send the payment to affected families, Opposition TDs have said.

An issue with how child benefit is processed for over 16s coupled with a change that was made last summer during the height of Covid-19 meant that some families who were expecting the payment this weekend did not receive it.

Child benefit can be received up until a child turns 18 as long they remain in school.

If they leave full-time education after they turn 16, their guardian is no longer eligible to claim the payment.

For 16 and 17-year-olds, the payment is only issued for July and August if the child returns to education in September and is usually paid in arrears.

Parents are asked to fill out a specific form to apply for child benefit for 16 and 17-year-olds and schools must confirm that the child is still a student.

While schools were closed last year, child benefit was paid during the summer because of the challenges the pandemic put on families.

However, several families who expected to be given the payment this week did not receive it.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for social protection Claire Kerrane said that “last year due to school closures, child benefit continued to be paid in respect of 16-18 year olds during the school holidays given the difficulties posed by Covid-19″.

“This year, parents were not informed that this would not happen again this summer and that instead, a form signed by the school was required in order for child benefit to continue to be paid,” she said.

“Schools are now closed for the summer and parents are unable to get the necessary form signed.”

Irish Single Parents Fight Back, a campaign group for single parents, said that the lack of payment has caused suffering for one-parent families. 

The group said it has been advised by the department that it will seek to reinstate and backdate the payments.

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The Journal has contacted the Department of Employment and Social Protection for further details.

TD Mark Ward said that paying the child benefit during the summer last year was a “vital lifeline for many families” as it “provided much-needed financial support”.

“The government must take direct and urgent steps to address this and ensure this crucial money is not withheld from families who need it,” Ward said.

“Child benefit is a critical source of income for families, especially to support older children,” he said.

“It is also relied on heavily by many parents in order to meet back-to-school costs, a costly time for parents.”

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