16th Apr 2018

Can carer take paid ‘time out’ if her husband dies?

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Centrelink Q&A: Carer fears future
Janelle Ward

Jane cares for her husband and receives a Carer Allowance. She is concerned about the future and what would happen if her husband were to pass away. 

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Q. Jane
I am a carer for my husband and I am looking into the future, even though I don't like to think about it. If I outlive my husband, how will my Centrelink payment change? Do I go back on Newstart, do voluntary work and report every fortnight? I won't be eligible for the Aged Pension until I am 67!

After looking after my husband for so long I was hoping to rest and take stock for a year if the worse were to happen. Does Centrelink make any allowances for people like me who are literally ‘spent’ after being a carer for years?

We are not wealthy with assets or money in the bank and ‘holiday’ isn't in our vocabulary. I was born in 1959 so I am not eligible for the Widow's Allowance.

A. Centrelink says that in the event of the death of a partner, child or person in care, carers will continue to receive their payment for 14 weeks to allow them time to grieve and to seek other income support.



They may also be eligible for a Bereavement Payment, which is paid as a lump sum. The type of Bereavement Payment, and the amount, will depend on individual circumstances.

Carers receiving the Carer Allowance and an income support payment (other than the carer payment) that does not qualify them for a Bereavement Payment, may receive a Carer Allowance Bereavement Payment of up to seven instalments of Carer Allowance. This is paid as a lump sum.

For people who are no longer eligible for the Carer Allowance and have not reached Age Pension age, the department will assist in identifying the most appropriate form of income support – most likely the Newstart Allowance, subject to eligibility.

Newstart recipients aged 55 and over can meet their required work or job search activity –  known as mutual obligation requirements – by doing at least 30 hours per fortnight of suitable paid work, self-employment, approved voluntary work or a mix of these.

Centrelink says: “We may provide an exemption from mutual obligation requirements in the case of a major event, such as the death of an immediate family member.”

It adds that its network of social workers provides information, support and short-term counselling for anyone going through difficult times, particularly with the death of a family member, and can assist with the transition to new payments.

Make an appointment to speak with a social worker at your nearest service centre or call the Centrelink employment services line on 132 850.

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

Related articles:
Carer payments made simple
Newstart rates and thresholds
Applying for an Age Pension





COMMENTS

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tisme
16th Apr 2018
12:11pm
bereavement is only -payable if your claiming the carer payment I was told when my mother died recently
Joy Anne
16th Apr 2018
12:57pm
Carer payment should continue until they are eligible for aged pension if over 60. Newstart option is a disgrace for people who have not worked for years and been a carer for their husband. Centrelink have no sympathy for Australians. BUT I bet they do for immigrants and Muslims that live here as they are already giving them more then us Australians. I am angry and many others
Sundays
16th Apr 2018
1:22pm
My sister who has never worked cared for her dying husband, then our father. At 59, after the 14 weeks she had to go on Newstart. She mistakenly thought it would be automatic, but no, you must apply. Without family support she would have been in dire straits. Newstart is not enough long term which she quickly realised. She now has a couple of students living with her, and has a new lease of life.
patti
16th Apr 2018
4:14pm
I cared for my partner for 5 years, he had cancer, post polio and Dioxin poisoning, and it was hard work. I did not receive a Bereavement Payment, nor did my carer payment continue. I was transitioned to Age Pension and no longer got the Carer Allowance. It was hard to manage when my income was effectively halved after his death, as he'd been receiving Disability Allowance, which helped with the household costs. Housing costs don't change, however many people live there. And if I had had to go on Newstart I could not have managed at all, nor looked for work. I was worn out, needed a couple of years to recuperate.
Tib
16th Apr 2018
5:59pm
Some people forget that there are many men and women who have done physical work all their lives and are worn out but they are expected to go onto Newstart if they lose their jobs. That is no different from being a carer.
Dancer
17th Apr 2018
9:34am
Yes there is a difference, Tib, between doing physical work and being a carer - Carers often have to do physical work, ie lifting and/or transferring a person between wheelchairs, bed etc. - and they also have huge emotional and mental exhaustion on a day-to-day basis after caring for someone for years. I know - I did it for 6 years!
Stormy
17th Apr 2018
1:51pm
Yes Dancer. You are so right. There is a difference. I am now 70 years old and am a carer doing physical work every day of the week, no weekends free. People forget about that.
Dancer
17th Apr 2018
6:23pm
Sadly you are not alone Stormy... Take care of yourself - so that you can continue to care for your loved one.
PlanB
18th Apr 2018
2:58pm
When I was carer for my Husband -- whom I nursed at home 24 hours a day -- I did not even get the carers pension if he went into hospital for further treatment EVEN though I was living in the hospital and with him from 5 am till 10 pm of a night as the staff were so darn busy it was ME that also was looking after him there, At one time when I had to attend to paying some bills and I returned to the Hospital -- he was lying ina MESS.

When he died I did not receive any pension after that, I was 50
grumpyoldwoman
19th Apr 2018
1:22pm
What was the reason the Government Department at the time gave you for not giving you or your husband a pension???
PlanB
20th Apr 2018
8:36am
My Husband was given a disability pension, I was given a carers pension which was the HUGE sum of $20 a week and if he had to spend any time in hospital to get more pain sorted out the $20 was taken from me -- even though I was in by his bed from 5 am to 10om every day and even though I had been trained in Palliative care -- because at the time here was NONE in this area -- and I had been admineresting his morphine alone at home but with ALL the phone numbers of the Specialists he was under, which I might add were most helpful and treated me with great respect.

I was not given a pension after he died


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