If you provide daily care and assistance to a friend or relative who has serious health issues or a disability, then you may be in receipt of Carer Allowance payments from Centrelink.
To be eligible for the fortnightly welfare payments, which are designed to assist with the cost of providing care in a private home, claimants must meet a set of criteria, including an income test which assesses the earnings of the carer and their partner.
Many Starts at 60 readers dedicate their own time to caring for elderly relatives, ill spouses and disabled friends or family members, but many are unsure of the facts when it comes to maintaining eligibility for the payments, with some telling us they worry about how much they can earn before losing the payments.
Before submitting an application to the Department of Human Services, carers must first ensure that they and the person being cared for meet the eligibility requirements outlined by the government.
The first requirement is that all applicants – including those being cared for – are Australian residents and they must permanently reside in Australia. If, for any reason, those involved in the claim cease to classify as Australian residents, payments will be stopped.
Carers must be providing additional daily care to someone because of either a disability, age or severe illness. While there is no assets test, like with the Age Pension, carers must adhere to an income test with their adjustable taxable income – including their partner’s income – totalling no more than $250,000 a year.
It is also necessary that the person receiving care scores highly enough on the Adult Disability Assessment Determination 1999 (ADAT), is likely to have the illness or disability for at least 12 months, unless it’s terminal, and for the care to be able to be administered in their home, the carer’s home or in hospital.
It is not always necessary to apply for Carer Allowance, for example if you are already in receipt of Carer Payment for a child under the age of 16. However, those providing care for someone over the age of 16 must submit an application for the payment through Centrelink.
According to the Department of Human Services’ website the “easiest way to claim is online” using your MyGov account, however claims can also be submitted at any Centrelink service centre as well as by calling the carer’s line on 132 717.
To submit a claim online log in to your MyGov account and go to Centrelink, then select ‘make a claim’, followed by ‘start a new claim’.
As published on the government’s official site, the current payments for Carer Allowance are $127.10 per fortnight, if you meet the Carer Allowance income test. This payment does not count towards your taxable income and rates are assessed annually on January 1 to align with the cost of living.
For those providing care to someone under the age of 16, a Carer Allowance Health Care Card for the child can also be issued.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.