Is there still a Centrelink payment for those recently widowed?

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Denice’s husband doesn’t have long to live and she is worried about her finances.

Q. Denice
I have been caring for my husband for seven years. He has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. We are nearing the end and life expectancy is only weeks now. I gave up work to care for him.

We receive a pension card, hubby has a disability card and I get the carers card. We do not receive any money from Centrelink. My husband has a property and some investment money. Due to this being our second marriage, his sons took us to VCAT to protect his assets. This has caused a great deal of stress over the years. We answer to an administrator now for the rest of his life, receiving an allowance every fortnight, which enables me to pay for bills and buy food and live a little. A document was signed to settle my husband’s financial affairs when he passes and cannot be changed.

As that document goes, I get to keep our home, which we both bought, and I keep our self-managed super fund. His sons receive his cash and his investment property in Victoria.

My husband is 64 years old and I am 61. We both have birthdays before Christmas this year. I do not wish to return to work as I’m very burnt out caring for him for so long and I’m keeping him at home with me until the end. I was a nurse and I have not got the desire to return to caring for others again.

What do I do for income and what am I entitled to with Centrelink? Is there a widow’s allowance for this situation?

A. I am sorry to hear about your situation. There used to be a Widow Allowance, but this payment ceased on 1 July 2018.

You may be entitled to the JobSeeker payment, although this is usually only granted to those actively looking for employment. If you claim the JobSeeker payment and meet the old Widow Allowance eligibility requirements you can be exempt from the mutual obligation requirements.

Unfortunately, those eligibility requirements are only available to women born on or before 1 July 1955, which means you will have to meet some participation requirements.

In September 2018, the government strengthened participation requirements for some people receiving an unemployment payment, including mature age Australians. These changes to participation requirements recognise that many older Australians are working longer.

Annual activity requirements of 10 hours per fortnight have been introduced for those aged between 60 and the Age Pension age.

As you are over 60, you will also be able to draw down on some of your super, but you should book an appointment to visit a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer to find out exactly how this and your other income and assets will affect any JobSeeker payment. You can book an appointment by calling 13 2300.

Do you think the government should bring back a widow allowance?

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Written by Ben

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