Some people with disability require care that can’t be entirely provided by paid support workers, so their families choose to take on some of the care themselves rather than having a support worker.
- It can be difficult to manage your finances if you care for someone with a disability as it may impact on your work options
- The Government provides a range of payments to support carers
- The Carer Payment is the gateway to some other supplements which could help you to be financially stable
If you care for a person with disability it can be tough to juggle your finances as their care may impact your ability to work and earn an income.
There are some Government payments available for carers in these situations, and this guide explains the Carer Payment.
There are regular criteria for eligibility for the Carer Payment, including that you must be an Australian resident and care for someone who is an Australian resident, but the other criteria includes that you:
- Must be caring for someone who has needs that meet a certain score on assessment tools
- Must care for someone who will need that care for at least six months
- Must come under the pension income and assets test limits
The eligibility of the needs of the person you are caring for is different depending on whether they are a child under 16 years old or an adult.
In most cases, a child must score high enough through the assessment contained in the Disability Care Load Assessment (Child) Determination 2010, have an illness or disability likely to last at least six months, or a terminal illness, and need care at home or in hospital.
However, you may also be able to receive the Carer Payment if you have more than two children with lower needs but who combined equal the needs of a child which would meet the assessment criteria, or if you care for a child and an adult who combined have that level of needs.
An adult must score high enough through the assessment contained in the Adult Disability Assessment Determination 2018, have an illness or disability which is likely to last at least six months, or a terminal illness and need constant care at home or in hospital.
While you need to be caring for your loved one for a significant period of each day you can spend up to 25 hours a week away from caring (including travel time) for work, volunteering, study or training.
The income and assets limits that you must meet to receive the Carer Payment can be found on the Services Australia website.
The rate of the Carer Payment depends on your relationship status and is paid per fortnight, as well as being updated on 20 March and 20 September each year.
The current rate is (as at 20 September 2021):
- $936.80 for a single person
- $706.20 each for a couple living together
- $936.80 each for a couple living apart due to ill health
How to apply
The easiest way to apply for the Carer Payment is through the Centrelink tab in your MyGov account, either online or on the mobile phone app.
If you click on ‘make a claim or view claim status’ and then click ‘get started’, there will be an option to start an application for the Carer Payment.
A series of eligibility questions will be given to you first and then you will be prompted to provide the information which Centrelink needs to process your application.
This could include income and asset forms detailing what you earn and what you own, medical reports and a review of the care you provide.
The medical reports you need about the person you care for can be collected from your health professionals.
If you can’t access MyGov online you can visit a Centrelink office to get your claim started and they will tell you what information you need to collate.
The Carer Supplement is paid annually if you care for a person with a disability or medical condition, as long as you are receiving the Carer Payment or Carer Allowance, or similar payments through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 1 July each year.
For those who are eligible, you will receive up to $600 each year under the Supplement, in addition to your regular carer payments.
However, you may be able to receive more than one payment of the Supplement for each person which you get the Carer Allowance for.
There is no need to apply for the Supplement, it will automatically be paid into your bank account.
If you share care of a person with someone who is not your partner, the Supplement will be split between you based on how much of the care you provide.
You can also get the Pensioner Education Supplement to study an approved course if you receive the Carer Payment.
This could be important support if caring for your loved one with disability has caused you to need to retrain for a different type of work.
For full-time students, the Supplement (as at March 2022) is $62.40 a fortnight and the rate drops to $31.20 if you are studying part-time with less than half of the regular course load.
You may also be able to access an Energy Supplement of $14.10 per person, per fortnight and a Pension Supplement – for utilities – of up to $75.60.
What if my situation changes?
You must notify Services Australia within 14 days of any changes to your caring situation.
This can include if the person you are caring for goes into respite care or longer-term accommodation.
It also includes if your income changes or if the needs of the person you are caring for decrease.
Services Australia can be notified online, or you can call, write to or visit a centre in person, the details of which can be found on the Services Australia website.
Remember to also update your details in your myGov account, particularly if your situation is changing because you’re moving house as Services Australia may need to send you letters.
Do you care for someone with disability? Tell us your story in the comments below.