Caring for someone can be rewarding, but overwhelming at times. If you need some extra help, you may be able to access financial support via the Carers Payment, Carers Allowance, and Carers Supplement.
Let’s look at these three government-funded benefits, who they help, and how they can be accessed.
What is Carers Payment?
Because carers need care too, the Australian Government provides three avenues for carers to access financial support:
The Carers Payment
This is a fortnightly payment that helps cover basic living costs. It is for people who are unable to fully support themselves via substantial paid employment because they provide constant care for someone in their home.
The Carers Allowance
This is a fortnightly income supplement to help with the additional costs of caring for someone, on top of basic daily living costs.
The Carers Supplement
This is an additional annual lump sum payment that recipients of the Carers Payment or Carers Allowance receive each year.
To access these financial supports, the person being cared for must:
- be frail aged.
- have a severe medical condition, or
- have a physical, intellectual, or psychological disability.
Here is more detailed information about these three payments: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/carer-payment
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Am I eligible for the Carers Payment?
You may be eligible for the Carers Payment if you provide constant care to someone who is frail aged or is living with an illness or a disability.
The government uses medical reports to verify care needs. To be eligible for the Carers Payment, the person receiving care must:
- Need constant care in the home.
- Be frail aged, have an illness or disability likely to last at least 6 months, or have a terminal illness.
- Score high enough on the Adult Disability Assessment Determination 2018 (ADAT)
The ADAT involves two questionnaires, one answered by the carer and the other by a health professional. Responses to questions about the amount of care required for activities such as mobility, communication, hygiene, eating and cognitive and behavioural considerations, are used to calculate the ADAT score.
The Department of Social Services has produced this guide for answering the ADAT questionnaire: 184.108.40.206 Answering the ADAT questionnaire | Social Security Guide (dss.gov.au)
The Carers Payment is means tested. To receive the Carers Payment, both you and the person you are caring for must meet income and asset requirements, which are adjusted each year.
Here is more information about current income and asset limits: Income and assets test for Carer Payment – Carer Payment – Services Australia
Here is more information about who is eligible for Carers Payment: Who can get Carer Payment – Carer Payment – Services Australia
Both the carer and the person receiving care must also be Australian residents.
How much is Carers Payment?
Carers Payment: there are different rates of Carers Payment for single people and couples. The payment rates change twice a year to keep up with the cost of living.
Carers Allowance: The Carers Allowance is currently $131.90 a fortnight. This amount changes on 1 January each year to keep up with the cost of living.
Carers Supplement: A fixed rate of $600 per year is automatically paid as a Carers Supplement in addition to the Carers Payment or Carers Allowance.
The Carers Payment is a taxable Centrelink payment. Recipients can ask the tax office to set up an automatic tax deduction to help reduce the amount of tax that they must pay at the end of each financial year.
How do I apply for the Carers Payment?
You can claim the Carers Payment online via Centrelink, by following these steps:
1. Set up a MyGov account and use your Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN) to link your MyGov account with Centrelink: Setting up online accounts for Centrelink – Carer Payment – Services Australia
2. Prove your identity, and the identity of the person you are caring for: How to prove your identity with Centrelink – Carer Payment – Services Australia
3. Upload supporting documents to your Centrelink online account: Supporting documents for your Centrelink claim – Carer Payment – Services Australia
4. Complete extra forms as they apply to your situation: Other forms you may need to complete – Carer Payment – Carer Payment – Services Australia
After you have applied and have been approved for the Carers Payment you need to report on your income regularly and advise Centrelink if your situation changes. Here is a summary of your options and obligations while receiving the Carers Payment:
Can I work and still receive the Carers Payment?
You can work or study for up to 25 hours a week (including travel time) and still be eligible for the Carers Payment.
As the Carers Payment is means tested, you can earn a certain amount per fortnight before your payment is reduced to a part-rate payment.
You are required to regularly report income from all sources including work, investments, superannuation, scholarships, pension payments and certain assets.
What if the person I care for goes to hospital?
You can receive payments for up to 63 days if the person you care for goes into hospital, as long as you keep caring for them while they’re in hospital (e.g. running errands on their behalf and attending to their needs outside of the hospitals duties) and they are returning to your care when they are discharged.
What if I need a break, or am going on holiday?
While receiving the Carers Payment and Carers Allowance, you can have 63 days of respite each calendar year without losing your payments.
While you are having a break from caring, the person you care for can be looked after by a friend or family member or you can organise respite care for them while you are away.
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