The Rural Social Scheme provides a supplementary income for low-income farmers and fishermen or women who are unable to earn an adequate living.
To qualify for the scheme, you must be getting a social welfare payment. In return, people participating in the scheme provide services that benefit rural communities.
You work 19.5 hours per week. These hours are based on a farmer or fisher-friendly schedule. This ensures that participation on the scheme does not affect your farming or fishing activities.
If you get a place on the scheme, you are offered a contract from your start date up to the following 31 March. You may be considered for a further term following the initial contract, if you continue to meet all the criteria for the scheme.
To participate in the scheme, you must be 25 years or over and getting:
If you are actively farming or fishing, you may qualify for the scheme if you are getting one of the following social welfare payments:
You can retain your medical card while you are taking part in the Rural Social Scheme.
You must provide proof that you are actively farming. To do this, you must provide a copy of your application for the Basic Payment Scheme for the current year, including a valid herd number. If you are actively farming and have not applied for the Basic Payment Scheme, you should contact your local RSS implementing body for advice.
If you are a child or sibling of a herd number owner and you can certify that you are resident and or working on the farm and you are getting one of the qualifying social welfare payments, you may be eligible to participate in the scheme on the basis of your parent’s or sibling’s herd number.
If you are eligible but do not wish to participate in the scheme, your dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant can take the available place.
Alternatively, if your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting one of the qualifying social welfare payments and is actively farming, they can use your herd number to qualify for the scheme.
Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant can participate in the scheme, if he or she is under 66 and you are getting a State Pension (Non-contributory) which includes an increase for qualified adult for him or her.
To be considered eligible to participate in the scheme, a fisherman or woman must meet one of the following categories:
Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant can participate in the scheme, if he or she is under 66 and you are getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory) which includes an increase for qualified adult for him or her.
The rates of payment for new participants on the scheme depends on your qualifying social welfare payment.
The minimum weekly payment is €225.50.
|Qualifying payment||Rate of payment|
|Jobseeker's Allowance or Farm Assist||Minimum weekly payment of €225.50 plus €22.50 top-up.|
|One-Parent Family Payment||Minimum weekly payment of €225.50 plus €22.50 top-up.|
|Disability Allowance||Minimum weekly payment of €225.50 plus €22.50 top-up.|
|Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension||You continue to receive your pension with a top-up of €22.50.|
|Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-contributory) Pension||You continue to receive your pension with a top-up of €22.50 (The minimum combined payment is €225.50).|
|Qualified adult on a State Pension (Non-contributory)||Your spouse will continue to receive the increase for a qualified adult. Your rate on the scheme will be the difference between your increase for a qualified adult payment and €225.50.|
A Class A social insurance (PRSI) contribution is paid on behalf of all participants in the scheme. You are not liable for the Universal Social Charge (USC) on your payment.
Your income is liable for tax, although it is likely you will pay little or no tax.
The rules that apply to your original social welfare payment also apply to your Rural Social Scheme payment. This means that, if your dependant gets a job, their income will be assessed as means and your payment may be reduced.
Your payment cannot be reduced below the minimum rate of €225.50. To avoid any possible overpayments, if there is any change in your circumstances, you should inform your local Rural Social Scheme implementing body.
As this scheme is administered locally, you should contact your local implementing body for further information or an application form.
You can also read the department's Guide to the Rural Social Scheme.