How Centrelink assesses two singles living under the same roof

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Pauline is fresh out of a de facto relationship but is still living with her ex. She wants to know if she can apply for a single Age Pension. Today, Debbie explains how will Centrelink may assess her situation.

Q. Pauline
I have been in a de facto relationship for some years, however, we have now decided to part ways. We’ve always had separate bank accounts and our own assets and income. We have always split our living costs, including rent and utilities. Given the fact that neither of us is looking for another relationship and the cost of renting is so high, we have discussed remaining in the same house, each with our own space.

If we did this, how would it affect our Age Pension? Would be able to claim as singles?

A. Given that you have been in a relationship and live in the same house, Centrelink is inclined to consider that you are both still a couple. However, if your separation is legitimate and you can prove that there is a valid reason why you’ll remain under the same roof, you can ask Centrelink to consider your claim for a single Age Pension.

Centrelink would conduct an investigation and would require independent referees. It should also be noted that this is not the norm and there is no guarantee that your claim will be approved.

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Written by Debbie McTaggart

77 Comments

Total Comments: 77
  1. 0
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    If the pension for couples was equal to twice the single pension then this dilemma would not arise. Of course Pauline is entitled to the single pension.

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      Actually if he wasn’t on a pension it would still be an issue. Good luck with proving to Centrelink that this isn’t a scam.

    • 0
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      As we all are. It would be much simpler and less costly administratively to pay each individual as a single. Then Centrelink wouldn’t have to look into people’s bedrooms!

    • 0
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      Two people can live a lot cheaper than one so it’s good the partnered rate is lower than two singles. Afterall it is welfare and thankfully we will see a welfare card for all instead of cash in the bank.

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      Why don’t we stop paying welfare to rich fat cats instead of further persecuting the strugglers who built this country and who offered their services for far less cost than they produced so the fat cats could profit?

      You are a sick woman, Bonny. And no, it’s NOT a good thing that the partnered rate is lower than two singles, because it encourages family breakups and cheating and it unfairly deprives honest couples. Two can sometimes live cheaper than one, depending on circumstances. But two singles co-habituating enjoy the same cost saving advantage as a couple.

      And a welfare card is ONLY good for the company supplying the card (run be a relative of a corrupt politician actually!). It’s been proved a social and economic disaster and it’s blatant cruelty to even suggest it for people who worked and paid taxes for a lifetime and EARNED EVERY DAMN CENT OF PENSION AND A HELL OF A LOT MORE!

  2. 0
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    I hope Centrelink believe this just as much as I do (LOL)

    • 0
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      It is often the reason many chose to live a single life. The loss of independence isn’t worth it.

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      Rosret they lost their independence the minute they started relying on government benefits.

      Every couple on the pension would immediately “separate” if this sort of thing is okayed.

    • 0
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      Yeah Rae, I’m doing it right now.
      I just said to the missus “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you”
      OK, where’s my extra money CentreLink?

    • 0
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      Savvy neighbours, who previously gifted $2 million to their kids to ensure they would get full pensions, built a huge house that is almost a duplex, with individual living quarters at each end. This was so they could claim (untruthfully) that they are singles who just happen to share a house for convenience and get more pension money. Not sure if they were successful!

    • 0
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      Rainey – this is the point where they need total faith in their children. Not only have they thrown away their independence to their children but to the government as well. Historically the government usually proves to be a better master than one’s relatives.

  3. 0
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    As this will easily become more of an issue, where singles live in the same house due to increases in living costs, Centrelink need to clearly define what constitutes a ‘relationship’ such that 2 singles are regarded as a couple.

    Is it having a physically intimate relationship, attending social events together, not having a relationship with a third party, being regarded socially as a couple? There must be clear and understandable rules, not a “We’ll look at each case on its merits” as this just creates confusion and uncertainty.

  4. 0
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    good luck on that one

  5. 0
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    I know two couples living together and claiming single pensions.

    • 0
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      And what have you done about it?

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      I know of two men, both now deceased, who lived together for nearly 50 years in the flat they jointly owned yet were both considered as singles by the Dept of Social Security and after retirement each paid a single pension. In those times, same sex co-habitation was illegal so they each had a separate bedroom in case they were raided by police, something they joked about. A delightful couple who lived a seemingly fulfilling life together.

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      Rather than exhorting people to look through keyholes so that they can be outraged and dob in a neighbor, maybe we should pay everyone the same amount. This amount can be determined by averaging the two pension entitlements and reaching a payment somewhere in the middle.
      I would suspect that even if we paid everyone at the single level, we would save the difference by being able to redirect the Bedroom Police into other more productive activities. Maybe even chasing up companies who have decided to evade taxes.

  6. 0
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    betcha c/link doesn`t know

  7. 0
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    Just to muddy the waters a bit, here’s how Centrelink defines a couple.

    Member of a couple

    Under social security law, you’re considered a member of a couple if you and the person you have a relationship with are:

    married
    in a registered relationship – different sex or same sex, or
    in a de facto relationship – different sex or same sex

    You’re not considered a member of a couple if you and the person are living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis.

    You may still be a member of a couple if you are not physically living with your partner. For example, your partner may fly-in-fly-out or live away for work, such as military or oil rig workers.
    What is considered when assessing a member of a couple

    To determine if you’re a member of a couple, we may need to assess your relationship. We’ll consider the following factors:

    financial aspects of your relationship
    nature of your household
    social aspects of your relationship
    if you have a sexual relationship
    nature of your commitment to each other

    If you tell us you’re a member of a couple, we don’t usually assess your relationship against these factors. We may look at these factors if your circumstances change.

    We can decide you’re a member of a couple even if all of these factors aren’t part of your relationship.

    The last sentence really says it all. Regardless of what you think of your relationship, Centrelink can tell you exactly what your relationship is when it comes to handing out money. Talk about Big Brother, this definition could have been thought up by Eric Blair.

  8. 0
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    I would suggest that Pauline calls the Welfare Rights & Advocacy. It is a free service, they may be able to ponit you in the ight direction. Perth 93281751. I am sure they have similar groups in all States of Australia.

  9. 0
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    It is unfortunate that you are forced to live under the same roof but it is a reality I know is real, whatever others disparage. Rent is a real factor. It is unfair of others who are not in this predicament to criticise. A kind soul once said, “judege not lest ye bejudged”.
    Advise centrelink. They will send you a change of circumstances form. identify clearly why you are separate. the form is non-judgemental. There is a category of separation called ‘separated but living under the same roof (for economic reasons). Write you facts clearly. separate bank accounts, separate rental arrangements etc all are evidence. God Bless. Centrelink is not unreasonable. Your case is not unique. check with welfare rights or another NGO which deals with centrelink issues and they will reassure you about what is reasonable. There are grounds for appeal as well.

    • 0
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      I’m not criticizing, anonysubscribe, but what is patently unfair is that two singles living under the same roof and saving money by doing so are paid more than a couple living under the same roof and enjoying only the same savings as the single.

      BTW. I’m not a pensioner, so I’m not personally affected but can look at the situation objectively. The system is WRONG. Everyone should receive a full single pension, married or not. Singles can share costs just as easily as married couples – sometimes more easily!

    • 0
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      Rainey the only sensible, logical and moral action to take.

  10. 0
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    From March 30th, 2017 – so VERY recent…….
    A MELBOURNE age pensioner and his live-in lover have won the right to higher welfare benefits after a tribunal decided their sex life lacked an “emotional connection”.

    The man and woman shared a bed, but the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has ruled they were housemates in a relationship of “mutual convenience’’. The man, Mr T, can now receive up to $5686 extra in welfare because he will be paid the single pensioner’s rate of up to $888 a fortnight, instead of the $669 paid to each member of a couple.

    Centrelink ordered Mr T to pay back the extra money he had claimed as a single pensioner between 2013 and 2015. But Mr T appealed to the AAT, declaring he should not have to repay any welfare because “Centrelink is corrupt’’.

    So by Pauline’s example – If you can live in the same house, still have a sex life with your ‘house mate’ but with ‘no emotional connection’, there should be no trouble in both getting the single pension!

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