Welcome to the fourth instalment of ‘Navigating the Funding Maze‘. Today I hope to give alittle more insight into Centrelink and some of the benefits you may be entitled to.
What is the Carer Allowance?
Carer Allowance (caring for a child under 16 years) is a payment that may be available if you are a parent or carer who provides additional care and attention on a daily basis for a child aged under 16 years with a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability or medical condition … just so you know … Autism counts.
Who is Eligible for the Carer’s Allowance?
You may receive Carer Allowance (caring for a child under 16 years) if you:
- are looking after a child with a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability who needs additional care and attention on a daily basis, or
- you care for 2 children with disabilities and the children do not individually qualify you for Carer Allowance (child) but together create a substantial caring responsibility, and
- you live with the child (or children) you are caring for.
To qualify for Carer Allowance (caring for a child under 16 years), you and the child you care for must be living in Australia permanently as:
- an Australian citizen, or
- the holder of a permanent resident visa, or
- a New Zealand citizen who was in Australia on 26 February 2001, or for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before that date, or was assessed as “protected” before 26 February 2004.
You do not have to meet income or assets tests to receive Carer Allowance.
What can you get?
This payment rate of Carer Allowance (caring for a child under 16 years) is effective from 20 September 2011.
You can get either:
- a fortnightly payment of $110 plus a Health Care Card for the child, or
- a Health Care Card for the child.
Which of these you receive depends on the level of functional disability of the child.
If you are receiving a Carer Allowance (caring for a child under 16 years) payment on 1 July each year, you are also paid an annual:
- Child Disability Assistance payment of up to $1,000 to help you with the costs of caring for a child with a disability, and
- Carer Supplement of up to $600 for each child in your care who qualifies you for Carer Allowance.
In some circumstances, you may qualify for back payment of Carer Allowance for up to 12 weeks before you lodge your claim.
You do not have to pay tax on Carer Allowance, Child Disability Assistance or Carer Supplement.
Why is the Health Care Card Important?
A Health Care Card entitles you to cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and various concessions from the Australian Government—these could include:
- bulk billing for doctor’s appointments (this is your doctor’s decision)
- more refunds for medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net
- assistance with hearing services through the Office of Hearing Services
- discounted mail redirection through Australia Post.
State and Territory Governments and local councils may offer concessions, such as:
- energy and electricity bills (NSW)
- health care costs including ambulance, dental and eye care
- public transport costs
- water rates.
Another benefit I have found is that you get access to cheaper tickets at the Royal Easter Show.
How to claim?
1. Contact Centrelink on 13 2717 or visit a Centrelink Customer Service Centre and our staff will ask you some questions to determine your circumstances and issue you with the appropriate claim forms.
2. Return your completed forms, proof of identity for yourself, your partner (if you have one) and for the person being cared for, medical reports and any other documents we have asked for to your nearest Centrelink Customer Service Centre.
Information sourced from Centrelink
What have your experience been with the Carer’s Allowance and Health Care Concession Cards? Do you have any lessons/scars?
Please feel free to add links to more relevant information you have found useful in the comments below.