Separated under one roof

YOURLifeChoices subscriber Pam is her husband’s carer but they are married in name only. She is keen to know how Centrelink will view their relationship when she applies for the Age Pension.

Relationships, Separated under one roof, single, partnered, age pension, centrelink, australia, seniors

YOURLifeChoices subscriber Pam is her husband’s carer but they are married in name only. She is keen to know how Centrelink will view their relationship when she applies for the Age Pension.

Q. Pam
My husband is on an Age Pension and I'm on a Carers Pension because I'm his carer. Even though we live in the same home, we have been living separated for some time.
Would I be eligible to apply for a single Age Pension or would I first need to get a legal separation?

A. Provided by Centrelink
In most cases, Australian Government payments and services you receive are affected by your relationship status - whether you are a single person or partnered. You can apply for Centrelink to formally recognise that you are "separated under one roof".

To determine whether two people are single or members of a couple, it is necessary under the Social Security Act 1991 to consider all the circumstances relevant to a relationship. Centrelink may ask you various questions about the relationship, including the following:

the reasons you are continuing to live together (e.g. cultural reasons or care needs);
how your relationship has changed;
whether you share the same bedroom;
whose name is on the lease or mortgage; or
how the household bills are paid.

A decision is made by weighing up the evidence of all the factors including evidence which indicates that no member of a couple relationship exists. If you do not agree with the determination you may seek review of the decision.

For information on how to apply, contact your relevant payment contact number.


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    13th Nov 2012
    This situation is much more common than realised.
    Be VERY careful before going down the separated path as Cenrelink is notorious for lacking in any understanding when it comes to matters Grey. (I refer to much less than 50 here).
    Two mentions above of names on mortgage and how bills are paid would put many to the sword.
    I suspect any perceived benefits of even a legal separation may well evaporate when examined closely.

    Be totally honest with yourself (yourselves).
    If motives are based financially forget it and if things are really that bad then simply move out.
    Harsh but reality isn't always what we either expect or desire.

    I speak from experience.
    15th Nov 2012
    If you chose to change your status with Centrelink - your husband would have to do the same. Then there are property, family, and other considerations too.

    You are not legally obliged to remain as his carer because you are married to him. Caring can be physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Many spouses do remain as carers to the point where they actually die before the invalid.

    If the reasons for your "separation" are connected with his condition, you could consider applying for aged care help in the home - or - if the caring is getting too much for you (physically, mentally) consider if it is time to apply for respite - or a more permanent move to a nursing home. Contact your GP and the Social Worker at your local hospital.

    If the reason for your "separation" is not connected with his disability (need for care) that is a different matter. Like any person, you can obtain a divorce after being separated for one year. You can still be living under the same roof during that year - but you must be able to prove to the Family Law Court that you live separate lives (financially, socially, physically etc). A property settlement can be done before the Decree Absolute. Contact "Relationships Australia" or your GP for counselling - or the Family Law Court of Australia for information and forms. You do not have to use a lawyer for a divorce - or property settlement - but it may be wise to do so if the situation is at all difficult or complicated.
    15th Nov 2012
    I forgot - there are various organisations for Carers. They provide information, advice, counselling, social support, and lots of understanding. When I was a carer for my husband, I found "Carers WA" very supportive. I particularly found their counselling services to be a lifesaver in learning to understand the many complex feelings and situations which arose.

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