Centrelink Q&A: Can you claim the Carer Allowance and the Age Pension?

Carer holding hands with her charge

A reader wants to know if a relative on the Age Pension can also claim the Carer Allowance.

Q. Janice

My mother-in-law is nearly 92, living at home alone, almost immobile and very dependent for most things e.g. showering, food prep etc. She is currently on a level three home care plan.

Her sister (88) lives alone next door and spends a huge amount of time supporting her sister. The sister is on level 2 home care plan, is quite mobile and able to cook meals and bake, etc, despite a curvature of the spine.

In all fairness, and considering the amount of help my mother-in-law is getting from her sister, the sister should be entitled to a Carer Allowance as she has been supporting her sister for years and the load is increasing with each year. The sister is on a full Age Pension so I guess her assets are below government requirements.

 Do you think the younger sister could be eligible for a Carer Allowance? 

•••

A. You can claim the Carer Allowance and Age Pension, but like any Centrelink payment, there are several hurdles you must face before your payments will be approved.

The Carer Payment is a payment for anyone who cares for someone who needs ongoing daily care for at least 12 months or has a terminal medical condition. The current rate of payment is $153.60 per fortnight.

To be eligible, as a carer you will need to meet residency rules and provide daily care and attention to someone who needs it in their home or the carer’s home.

The person being cared for will also need to be assessed as needing care by a medical professional. A separate assessment may be required, but Centrelink may also accept existing medical information.

Unlike the Age Pension, there is no assets test, but there is an income test. The carer and partner’s – if they have one – combined income must be less than $250,000 a year before tax. There is no income test for the person being cared for.

Providing care can be stressful, but you can take a break from providing care and still get the Carer Allowance.

Carers can take up to 63 days off per calendar year and still be eligible for the Carer Allowance, however you must tell Centrelink if you are taking a break.

If the person being cared for is admitted to hospital or is in hospital, the Carer Allowance still applies if you:

  • keep caring for them while they are in hospital
  • the person in care is likely to return to your care when they leave hospital
  • you plan to still provide care when they leave hospital
  • if you don’t provide care for the person while they are in hospital, you can use your respite days.

Carers are also eligible for the Carer Supplement, which is an annual $600 payment.

For more information, visit Services Australia here.

Do you claim the Carer Allowance? Did you have any problems claiming the payment? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Can I claim rent assistance while travelling?

Written by 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'.

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