Domiciliary Care Allowance

Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment to the carer of a child with a disability so severe that the child requires care and attention and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age. This care and attention must be provided to allow the child to deal with the activities of daily living. The child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months.

In September 2012 following pressure from parents and representative organisations, a review of the DCA Scheme was initiated by the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton involving a public consultation process and the establishment of a cross departmental steering group including representatives from disability organisations such as the Special Needs Parents Association. The review is due to be completed at the end of December 2012 at which point a report from the DCA Steering Group will be published for the Minister outlining recommendations for the operations of the DCA Scheme.


For more information on the DCA Scheme click HERE

Useful guidelines for filling Application Form

Additional Information

Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability, who requires ongoing care and attention, substantially over and above the care and attention usually required by a child of the same age. It is not means tested.

You can find the definitions for terms such as severe or substantially in the DCA Medical Guidelines (pdf). These are used by the Department of Social Protection when it is assessing applications for DCA. The guidelines state that the payment is not based on the type of disability but on the resulting physical or mental impairment which means that the child requires substantially more care and attention than another child of the same age.

The DCA scheme was administered by the Health Service Executive before it was transferred to the Department of Social Protection in 2009.

You can also read the information leaflet for DCA (SW127). The leaflet is available from your Intreo centre or Citizens Information Service.

Eligibility for DCA is not based primarily on the medical or psychological condition, but on the resulting lack of function of body or mind necessitating the degree of extra care and attention required. Each application is assessed on an individual basis taking account of the evidence submitted.

The Department uses a set of consistent and objective guidelines in determining the medical eligibility of children for the scheme. These guidelines were drawn up by a Group chaired by the Department’s Chief Medical Advisor comprised of senior medical personnel from the HSE as well as eminent professionals in the areas of physical disabilities which affect children, and child psychiatry/psychology.

The Group considered that the most appropriate way for the Department to conduct assessments for medical eligibility was by assessing evidence submitted by the claimant rather than by way of individual examination by the Department’s Medical Assessors as they are not involved in advice or treatment of the child. The new process in operation in the department involves the submission of a detailed statement by the parent or guardian of the child; a detailed statement by the child’s General practitioner; and any other relevant evidence from qualified experts who have examined the child. The evidence is assessed by designated departmental Medical Assessors who have received special training in Human Disability Evaluation.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed by a different Medical Assessor specially designated for this task. Where a person is not satisfied with the decision of a Deciding Officer they may appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

To apply, fill in a Domiciliary Care Allowance form (pdf). You can also get an application form by texting “FORM DCA” followed by your name and address to 51909 (standard text rates apply) or by dropping into your Intreo centre or social welfare local office or local Citizens Information Service.

You should complete Parts 1 to 5 of the form. Please ask your child’s GP/specialist to fill in parts 6 and 7 (the medical section) of the form. You should also attach any reports or other information you have about your child’s disability and the impact it has on their care needs.

Note: If your child has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) you are advised to have the medical professional/specialist dealing with your child complete an additional medical form called DomCare3 (pdf). The completed form will detail your child’s conditions, any specific care needs your child might have as a result of their disability and will help the Department’s medical assessor to form an opinion on eligibility.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterised by delays in the development of socialisation and communication skills. Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett’s Syndrome are generally referred to under this category.

When your child reaches 16 years of age he or she may qualify for Disability Allowance. If he or she continues to need full-time care and attention and you continue to provide full-time care and attention you can retain your carer’s payment.

Due to the increase in applications for Disability Allowance, it is important to send in an application for Disability Allowance at least three months in advance of your child’s sixteenth birthday. This will lessen the gap between payments lapsing if your child qualifies for Disability Allowance. It is also important to note that the criteria for Disability Allowance is very different from DCA and not all applicants who qualified for DCA will meet the criteria to qualify for Disability Allowance.

If you are currently in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance, reviews of existing recipients eligibility to continue receiving payments has been suspended since mid 2012 pending a review of the DCA Scheme and implementation of an upgraded scheme. This means that no child will have their DCA entitlement removed until further notice (even if they no longer meet the criteria).

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