Are you on the right carer payment?

As we age, unfortunately those around us are also ageing. That means we are often in a position to take on more and more caring responsibilities.

Centrelink has two payments for people caring for others, the Carer Allowance and the Carer Payment, and even if you do not qualify for the Age Pension, you may qualify for carer compensation. 

But first, what’s the difference between the two, and what’s the Carer Supplement?

Carer Allowance

The Carer Allowance is a fortnightly payment of $153.50 for people who are looking after someone who is either disabled, has a medical condition or is frail aged.

To be eligible, you and the person or persons you care for need to meet residency rules and you must be providing daily care and attention to someone either in their home or your home. 

There is no assets test for the Carer Allowance, but there is an income test. To be eligible you and your partner’s combined adjusted taxable income must be less than $250,000 per financial year, before tax. There is no income test for the person you care for. 

There are also some medical requirements. The person you care for: 

  • needs care for at least 12 months, or has a terminal medical condition
  • is assessed as needing care by a medical professional
  • can be cared for in their home or your home.

You can receive multiple Carer Allowances for two adults and more than one child. 

As part of your claim the treating doctor will need to fill out a medical form. However, if the recipient of your care is registered with Centrelink, they may be able to use any existing relevant information. You will be notified if you need to provide an updated medical form. 

If you share care with another person, you will only receive a part payment.

Centrelink gives the following example: 

Mary and Susan are sisters who share the care of their father, Jim. He’s been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition. Susan provides care over weekends while Mary provides care during the week.

When Mary and Susan each start their claim, if granted, Centrelink will give each sister a part payment based on the percentage of care they provide.

To apply, you will need to prove you and your partner’s identity and the identity of the person you are caring for. Suitable documents or evidence include an Australian birth certificate, Australian citizenship certificate or Australian passport, and an Australian driver’s licence. You will also need a Medicare card.  

As well as these identity documents, you may need some supporting documents to complete your claim. Some documents will show as ‘required’ in your claim and must be provided. Having them ready before you finalise your claim can speed things up. 

You may also need some ‘supplementary’ documentation such as your tax file number, bank account details, your relationship status, employment status and some medical information. Centrelink will let you know if they need any of these documents. 

But don’t be tardy, you have 14 days to provide them, or Centrelink may reject your claim. 

You can claim through your myGov account or at a service centre. For guidance on where to start, check out Centrelink’s guide here

This payment is reviewed and indexed on 1 January every year and is not taxable.

Carer Payment

The Carer Payment is slightly different.

According to Centrelink, you may be eligible for this payment if you: 

  • provide constant care to someone who needs care for at least six months
  • are caring for someone at the end of their life.

Constant care means you provide the bulk of their care, and your support stops you from working full time.  

You must meet these residency rules and the income and asset tests, not just the income test as for the Carer Allowance. 

The person you care for must: 

  • have a disability or medical condition likely to last at least 6 months, or have a terminal illness
  • need constant care in their home, your home or in hospital.

The treating doctor will need to complete a medical form and you will need to detail to Centrelink all the care you provide. If the recipient of your care is already on Centrelink payments, that will support your claim. 

If you share the care with another person, both of you may be able to claim the Carer Payment, but each carer will need to submit their own claim. 

If you aren’t eligible for caring for one person because they are low needs, you may be eligible for the Carer Payment if you care for two people with lower needs, for example, both of your parents or an adult and a child under 16. The treating doctor must fill out a form for each person you care for. 

Unlike the Carer Allowance, which is a set amount, there are different rates for the Carer Payment depending on your circumstances. You can find the rates here.

The Carer Payment is taxable if you or the care receiver is of Age Pension age, but you can ask Centrelink to deduct tax, to reduce the amount you will have to pay at the end of the financial year. 

The Department of Social Services reviews payment rates on 20 March and 20 September each year.

You can start your claim here.

Carer supplement

There is also a carer supplement, which is an automatic annual payment of up to $600 for eligible Centrelink recipients who are caring for someone who is ill or disabled.

You must be receiving one of the following:

  • Carer Allowance
  • Carer Payment
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Partner Service Pension and Carer Allowance
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Carer Service Pension.

If you receive any of the above payments, Centrelink will automatically pay out the supplement. 

If you are receiving a part payment of a Carer Allowance, you’ll get a relative part payment of the carer supplement. So, if you are on 70 per cent of the Carer Allowance, you will receive $420, which is 70 per cent of $600.

If you receive multiple Carer Allowances because you are looking after multiple people, you will receive a supplement for each payment. 

So, for example, if you are receiving a full Carer Allowance for two people you will receive $1200. 

The payment is not taxable and is paid in July each year. 

Are you on a carer payment? Did you find it easy to apply? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Centrelink Q&A: Will my furniture affect the assets test?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. May I comment on one aspect of the carer payment.
    My wife had alztheimers and I loved caring for her at home for 8 years at home.
    I received the carers payment on and off at home.
    In 2020 she needed care, some aspects which I could not provide and she was admitted to an aged care home.
    Except when the wa premier locked out family members, for which he will never be forgiven and 2 bouts of covid I cared for my wife within the agedcare home for 4 years.
    I arrived at the home by 9.00am and left at 8.00 pm and worked hand in glove with the lovely aged care staff.
    I am a self funded retiree and was taxed (means tested) between $30.00 and$50.00 a day in addition to paying the rad and other costs.
    My point is that the carer payment was not available to me as my carer time was in an aged care home.
    Age abuse, by govt underfunding to terminally ill Agedcare residents is just a disgrace.
    My darling recently passed after a 12 year journey.
    I enjoyed every day of my time with her but for a country like Australia to not look after the elderly in a compassionate way is a national disgrace.

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